Think that rebellious streak in your kid’s attitude is just a cause for concern? Not entirely. A kid who is set in their ways, assertive or always challenging the status quo is actually demonstrating qualities that all have to do with a healthy sense of boundary-pushing. And that’s a good thing, if you want to raise an independent-thinker.
How do you help your kid use their rebellious drive to do great things for themselves and for the world? Here are 4 signs of rebellion that might show up in your kid, and how to encourage its positive aspects.
1. He’s a lone wolf
If your kid seems to prefer to spend time alone rather than mingle with others, this isn’t necessarily a sign that they are anti-social. Introverts tend to be deep thinkers and get deeply involved in solitary projects. Since they’re not always connecting with lots of new people, these kids tend to take the friendships they do have very seriously.
However, take note—being an introvert doesn’t mean spending an inordinate amount of time locked away in a bedroom or withdrawing from the family. Just make sure you recognize your child’s mood after spending time alone. If solitude energizes him, encourage creative solitary activities like sculpting, building, painting, etc.
2. She calls you out on your crap
Some kids are naturally—ahem—critically-minded and aren’t afraid to show it. The positive side of this is that kids of this type are observant, interested in understanding how things work and how things could be improved. However, there’s a fine line between constructive criticism and a plea for attention.
When your kid makes a shameless assessment of the world around them, ask them to consider how it could be better for everyone, or how he might do it differently if he had control. Teach your kid how to formulate a well-thought out opinion is one of the best life skills they can have.
3. He plays rough and risky
Rough-and-tumble play has proven to give kids the ability to deal with manageable quantities of fear, to practice “keeping their heads” and behaving adaptively. A kid with a penchant for rough play gets a chance to build social and emotional intelligence and become a positive loser as well as positive winner.
Kids wouldn’t want to keep playing if they’re constantly on the losing side, so it’s important for everyone to take turns in order for the fun to continue. As long as they’re fair in their play, and compassionate in both “winning” and “losing,” there’s no reason contact-play should be discouraged.
4. She challenges authority
If your rebellious kid wears her defiant attitude on her sleeve, chances are she’s not just an independent thinker, but also has the potential to become a great communicator. To leverage these gifts, try to work with your kid rather than against, when he challenges you or other authority figures.
Try to understand your kids’ point of view, and encourage them to think how about the situation could be better for everyone, or how they might create a better situation if they were in a position of authority. Rather than simply “reacting” to rules, teach your kid to think things out.