“No, I don’t want to wear that! You can’t make me!”
Does this sound like a familiar line you’ve heard from your sweet little child before?
While many parents have been quick to discipline such behavior in the past, new research is showing that stubborn kids actually turn out to be richer and more successful, and that there’s nothing to worry about. The study suggests that we may want to spend time understanding and supporting our strong willed little ones, rather than discouraging their behavior. We may have a few more “arguments” with our children as a result as they grow up, but we’ll be happy later down the road that we stayed patient and let our children develop into strong willed and successful adults.
Psychology has already shown us that the “No phase” is a very healthy and important step in a child’s development and individuation process, and a recently completed study found that stubborn children often grow up to be more successful and richer than their peers.
The study, which tracked students from their late primary years until well into adulthood, found that children who frequently break the rules or otherwise defy their parents often go on to become educational over-achievers and high-earning adults.
700 children between the ages of 8 and 12 years old were evaluated for non-cognitive personality traits such as academic conscientiousness, entitlement and defiance. 40 years later, as the children reached 50 years of age, researchers followed up with the participants and recorded how they turned out; rule breaking and defiance of parental authority turned out to be the best non-cognitive predictor of high income as an adult.
They found that stubborn children tend to be driven by their goals more so than their peers, enabling them to achieve more as adults. If you notice that your child isn’t afraid to break your rules here and there and sometimes debates what you tell them, this is actually a potential indicator of future success. Many of the adults who achieved the highest levels of wealth were observed to be rule-breakers as children.
Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirmed that agreeable individuals earn less than others.
Therapists explain that as they grow up, strong willed and stubborn children are more likely to do what they think is right, rather than what their friends or peers are doing. A major benefit of this behavior is that it can keep children out of trouble in high school and college; it enables them with the power and ability to say no to peer pressure when friends are engaging in unhealthy activities, behaviors or ideas.
When understanding how to parent a strong willed child, psychologists and parental trainers have a few healthy pieces of advice:
1. Stay Calm, Listen To, And Understand Your Child
It’s normal to feel frustrated when our children don’t quickly acquiesce to our rules or demands, but it’s critically important that as parents we do our best to stay calm in such situations, and attempt to understand the reasoning of our little ones. Keep a calm voice, refrain from yelling, and listen with your heart as to why your child refuses to wear their shirt today. If it’s because their favorite superhero also doesn’t wear a shirt, then their pure hearts are actually motivated towards a good cause. Let them know that you understand, and praise them that they too are a hero of kindness and justice, and see if you can negotiate a little by explaining that even superman wears regular clothes during the day, and a cape when he needs to help someone.
2. Establish A Connection. Don’t Impose Your Will
Often, we may feel inclined to overpower a defiant child. Yet doing this often does more harm than good for our children and leads to resentment and further problems, such as being unable to say no to overpowering peer pressure during adolescent and adult life. Teach your child empathy, so that they too become kind and caring, and give them consequences when they go too far. Connect heart-to-heart with your child through listening and understanding. By being on the same team as our children, we often disarm their desire to rebel. Show them that we too struggle with putting our empty cup in the sink, but with a hero’s passion and determination, together we can do it!
3. Encourage Their Drive Towards A Good Cause: Inspire Them
If parents can use positive reinforcement to motivate their children to do well in school or can help direct their passion and drive towards a meaningful and compassionate purpose, these children can become wonderful and motivated leaders who will do the right thing, even if they have to do it alone. Help them pick up trash around the neighborhood to save the environment, help them learn to be kind and sit with the lonely kid in the cafeteria, help them volunteer to help feed the homeless, help them walk the puppies at an animal shelter. These successful and stubborn children won’t give up easily, and spend more time and energy finding valuable solutions when compared to their passive peers.
Author Maureen Healy gives some wonderful advice on parenting Indigo children when she says, “Indigos see, feel and experience life differently than their more mainstream counterparts. They tend to have an usually high level of creativity, sensitivity, giftedness, and angry energy to channel. This angry or warrior energy that defines many indigos isn’t a bad thing. It is the energy that breaks down broken systems (think: public school systems) and creates better ways of doing things. Of course, the challenge is to raise indigo kids to use their incredibly sensitive, highly responsive, and fierce energy as a force for good.”
So the next time your beloved little one comes to you to negotiate a new bedtime, take a deep breath, and lovingly listen. Showing empathy and understanding towards their positive and strong willed little personalities will enable them to become more successful adults who can help to make our world a better place.
Have you had an interesting experience raising a stubborn and successful child?
Let us know in the comments.
Stay strong; committed to patience, understanding and compassion.
You are Loved.