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Children should not be too well behaved

Children should not be too obedient
Children should not be too obedient | ©: bramgino - Fotolia

Parents complain about all sorts of things in their children: they are a problem child, a rebel, a know-it-all; however, those attributes have their merits as well. Problem children are usually very self-confident, little know-it-all have a greater knowledge base than their peers. There is one behaviour, though, no one complains: when kids are too well behaved. They have the reputation to do what they are asked; they don’t nag and moan and are in general the best kids ever.

What often is overlooked that those characteristics, like all the other ones as well, have their good and negative sides. Granted, having a child who takes the moral high-ground or is a little know-it-all, life can be a little more difficult than with a forever sweet and well-behaved child. However, brave children have one major drawback, which may be worse than anything else. They do what they are told, and that is precisely the problem. Many parents want and, unfortunately, expect exactly this from their children. To a certain extent, that's okay. Yet, if children never rebel, and also is not allowed to do so, then there is indeed a serious problem. It goes without saying that, to a certain degree, children have to obey. Especially if they are very young. However, they need the freedom to rebel as well - at least every now and then. We must move away from restricting our children and move instead towards more freedom. The reason is if children only do what parents ask them do, where does that leave their own identity?

Life without a developed personality

If children never learn to stand up for themselves, and just blindly submit, this can have dire consequences during adolescence as well as throughout adulthood. Every child inherits this rebellious, assertive features; however, not to the same degree. If this side of children never shows, it would be recommendable to have a closer look why. Highly adjusted children suppress their own personality. A child who never oversteps the line is a highly adjusted child. This in turn represents the loss of part of its identity. They have to behave the way their parents expect them too and likewise behave in a way to give their parents what they want to see. This can either mean to act against their own beliefs and values or just blindly obey. This kind of behaviour has serious consequence in life because without independent personality they will continue to please others during adulthood, which significantly limits their chance to find true happiness.

It has been proven that very quiet children, in average, have little self-confidence. That’s obvious because, by default, man is not of a quiet and peaceful nature. In most cases, introversion is not a genetic predisposition, but rather a learned behaviour. If children always do what their parents want, they have little choice but to either rebel or to adjust and be a well-adapted child. The latter makes life easier in many ways; therefore many choose this path. However, this inevitably leads to the fact that they are not noticeable. They easily disappear in the rest of the “well adjusted” mass. This also means that they get less attention than the proverbial “squeaky wheel”. In this context, it is easy to see that soon they may feel less important for who they are or what they want, because, evidently they do become less attention. It seems that what those quiet kids do is much less appreciated than that what more outgoing kids do. And this where appreciation is one of the most important things in life. Everyone has the need to be noteworthy. However, some are already brought up in a way that it will be very hard for them later on in life to feel appreciated. They meet the expectations of their parents and behave exactly as expected by them and society. Later on in life they are almost invisible. That might be suitable for employment in a secret service agency but certainly not for anything else.

Children must be allowed to be independent

Awareness is needed whenever children appear not to have an own opinion, where there are no conflicts. If you do not have any problems with your own kids, this is suspicious and certainly not a good indication for great parenting. Instead, this is a clear indicator for subjugation. Still today for many parents their status in society is important. The problem with this is, if the child makes a mistake, the parents feel offended. They will argue with their children, complain about what they have done and coerce their children into not making any more mistakes. Their thinking is that the behaviour is a reflection of their parenting.

Childrearing: form the kids for a good character
Childrearing: form the kids for a good character
©: Sandy Schulze - Fotolia

Perfectionists, for example, expect so much of their children, that at the end, the young person is so overwhelmed and does not dare to do anything anymore. Purely out of fear to do something wrong. However, mistakes are important. Without them, we would not be able to understand or grasp a lot.

The problem though is, sweet and well-behaved children will not achieve much in life. A proverb says: Who does not venture out, will gain nothing”. In many ways, this saying is true. The “good child” becomes spineless and does not know how to stand up against those brave and strong personalities he encounters at school, the workplace and society in general. The idea is, if children are always good, they need to be urged to leave their comfort zone once in a while. They need to learn to use their brains, learn to think for themselves and make their own decisions.

Children have more than only one characteristic

As a parent, it is crucial not to put your child, unconsciously or otherwise, into a box and be done with it. No child is only rebellious, a know-it-all or all well behaved. Every child has many of these characteristics. Every child has their own individuality. If a child is labelled as “the good child” it will do its uttermost best to fulfil this expectation. However, the same goes if you brand your child to be a rebel. A good example is siblings. It is not uncommon that one is the good child and the other the rebel. Usually, they are treated accordingly. The rebel gets much more into trouble for his unruly behaviour then the well-behaved child. It is also not unusual that whenever trouble arises, that the rebellious child, without further thinking, is considered to be at fault. After all, who else could have instigated the “good child”? Parents need to remember that children have a knack for fulfilling what is expected of them.

In any case, it is recommended to parents not to have a “cemented” image of their children as this would inhibit their free development. Children should be exactly as they are and not as their parents would like them to be. It is important to give children space and provide them with the necessary freedom to be discovered all of their characteristics. Even it is hard not to put children in “their specified boxes”, the prenatal view of them should regularly be revised and refined. An ongoing dialogue with children is necessary to reassure them times over that they can be whoever they want to be, despite any parental expectations. Just as the rebel in the family is allowed to be a good kid, so is the quite one allowed to rebel every now and then. It is important for children to develop a multifaceted personality to give them a healthy repertoire for responding appropriately to the many challenges in life.

Conclusion - Children must be allowed to be the way they are

Children should be accepted as they are without being turned into what the parents would like to have. Missed dreams and desires of the parents are not to be projected onto their children nor are to be restricted in any way other for their protection. Needless to say, children need protection from the dangers of the world, yet, at the same time they must be well prepared to deal with them independently. However, that won’t work if they are always just do what they are told to do. They need to learn to weigh up situations and then decide. This is the only way that children learn to respond to individual situations in life and accordingly create a happy and fulfilled life. Those too well-behaved children are often not able to do that or, alternatively, they have to fight hard for everything they want, later in life. The reality for those children is that all the developmental stages they were denied earlier in life they have to learn as adults. However, this is a complicated and long drawn process and it was better if they had the chance to go through this development throughout their childhood. After all, this is what childhood is all about: to develop and grow up.

Well-adjusted children we appreciate - maladjusted children, however, are a nuisance in youth work

That’s how we know it: we love the good children and young people, the maladjusted children, however, are the troublemakers, the objectors and we encounter difficulties in dealing with them. After all, it is much easier and more pleasant if there is peace and quiet in the youth group. Did you ever realise that the quiet and well-adapted children have little confidence? The noisy kids, the “squeaky wheels” have much more confidence, even they not necessarily do a better job.

Within the youth group, the “forced to compliancy “children should find possibilities to develop their own opinions and represent them besides learning how to trust themselves.

If, indeed, we are bothered by the fact that we do not have well-adapted children in our youth group, we need to investigate why we are bothered. As already written above: low maintenance children will have it much harder in life. In other words, one day, even the compliant children will rebel and trying to break free. They will refuse to do certain things and in the worst case scenario the pendulum will swing right to the other side.

Self-confidence and self-development only work if the child receives the freedom to develop those attributes. This includes allowing them to make mistakes, the freedom to find their own place within the community, to solve disputes and to measure up against others. Permanent rebuking by parents, teachers or group leaders seems oppressive and restrictive. Of course, you cannot tolerate every whatsoever behaviour, but you can try to talk to the young people without raising your finger at every conflict.

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
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