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So Your Kid's Not a Perfect Angel? Great! Why Your Disobedient Child Is Actually Awesome

Photo by Curtis Kim / Stocksy United / 731839
Photo by Curtis Kim / Stocksy United

By Cheryl Flanders

Somewhere on the planet, a child exists who does exactly what his mom asks of him right when she asks him to do it. You envy that mom, because your child…well…he never does what he's asked—like ever.

You’re raising that child—the one who doesn’t obey—and just thinking about the wonder mom who gets her child to do what she asks on the first request every time makes you wilt a little.

Well, parent of the willful child, consider yourself lucky!  

Look at it this way: Do you really want a fully compliant child who automatically obeys every command? Or do you perhaps want to raise a child who grows into a confident and curious thinker who can stand up for himself and what is right?

It’s true, there are times when your child will need to do what you say. He can’t run into a street. He can’t ride in the car without being secured. But, as with all parenting, there are battles to pick. And in the war for obedience, safety is a good gauge for choosing those battles.

But instead of focusing on blind obedience for obedience’s sake, what if you adjusted the lens to see your strong-willed, “I-won’t-put-my-coat-on” four-year-old as the brave explorer he is? Look at your child as someone who will grow into a young adult who will ask questions instead of following blindly, who will think independently and stand up for himself when needed, and who will lead creatively with compassion and integrity.

And remember, don’t assume your child is always disobeying just for the sake of rebellion—it’s possible that your freedom-loving child is so distracted by the wonders of the world that obedience winds up playing second fiddle to running against the wind, seeking out rocks in the dirt, and engaging in outdoor learning and play.

Yes, somewhere on the planet there may be a wonder mom whose child unquestioningly complies with every request, whether big or small. But as you think about your child—the one playing happily outside without a coat, seemingly unconcerned that you’ve counted to three and three-quarters—consider pulling back a little on small battles like these (unless, of course, it’s dangerously cold) and changing your perspective. Your math skills may find a more productive place outside counting gray and brown rocks with your future leader of the free-thinking world!
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