All kids are wild. Little ones love exploring the world. Children enjoy playing and climbing trees, and let’s not forget that they adore muddy puddles and colors.
Being wild might be romantic and needed in our tech society. However, when this wild side becomes dangerous, we should ask ourselves why and how sweet kids get out of control. Because sometimes it’s not about ‘bad’ parents.
Some kids are constantly screaming, moody, needy and even aggressive. And let’s be honest, sometimes when we hear children swearing, we blame their 'awful' parents. Many moms and dads become a target of verbal abuse. Non-parents love giving advice to parents, and parents love shaming other families. It’s a constant battle of right and wrong.
The truth is that in this dynamic and over-stimulating century kids grow up fast and society plays a crucial role in this process.
On top of that, human beings are unique, and as individuals, kids carry some personality traits that even parents can’t change.
So here’s why we should stop blaming it all on parents:
15 Paradoxical Parenting Principle
Wild or not, there’s no doubt that kids are sweet, curious, innocent and adorable… At least the cuddly creatures we see on the big screen. In real life, things are a bit different.
Even if we want to keep our babies in a glass globe just like the Little Prince and his Rose, we can’t change the facts: some kids are ‘bad’ even with ‘great’ parents.
This is known as the paradoxical parenting principle. In other words, polite parents might have rude kids, people with a criminal record might have innocent children, and modern hippies might have total nerds.
It’s funny and sad at the same time. Simply because, as psychologist Miriam Adahan says, we all try to be rebels and go against our parents.
14 Nature Versus Nurture
But why do good parents have bad kids? The nurture-nature debate in psychology is one of the most intriguing fields of research.
Some people believe in tabula rasa or the belief that all people are born blank, in a state of mental blankness. According to this concept, life and experience imprint personal characteristics in people’s mind.
On the other hand, other people believe in the importance of genetics and biology.
Scientists have tried to find the answer by studying identical twins separated at birth. The conclusion is that... we can’t say for sure. As Dr. Beben Benyamin from the Queensland Brain Institute says, “What is comforting is that, on average, about 50 percent of individual differences are genetic and 50 percent are environmental.”
So it’s not all about bad genes or bad upbringing.
13 Blame It On Them
Are kids wild at birth or do ‘bad’ parents drive them mad? We don’t know but one thing is for sure: when other people blame parents, their accusations may worsen the problem.
As mentioned earlier, parenting has become a battle: some parents blame non-parents for their lack of understanding, while some non-parents see people with kids as old-fashioned. Balancing between work and family life… The truth is out there!
However, all these blame games lead only to bad role models for kids. As the famous psychologist Bandura proves with his classic “Bobo dolls” studies, kids copy aggressive behavior. So if they see someone disrespecting their parents or the people around them, they might start doing the same. Therefore, educating and expressing love is crucial.
12 Guilt Bombs
Blame and guilt go hand in hand. Usually, parents feel guilty most of the time. Questions, such as “Am I a good parent?,” occupy a huge part of each parent’s head. It’s normal to be insecure, especially if it’s your first child. That doesn’t make you a bad person.
Just remember that children are smart. And just like predators, when they feel a slight sight of insecurity, they might take an advantage of you to get their way. Lying, blackmailing, playing the victim and tantrums, that’s all part of the game. Well, let’s admit it – adults are also manipulative to a certain degree.
However, we shouldn’t let that become a way of life. The most important thing is to stop dropping guilt bombs as that might lead to a manipulation explosion.
11 Love Too Much
As a result of our insecurity, we can start questioning our parental skills… and we might become too ‘good’. Giving love to our child is important. However, when this love grows into an unhealthy relationship where kids are treated as queens and kings and everyone else is left behind, we should try to become ‘bad’.
Spoiling our kids can make them wild as they don’t respect boundaries, criticism, and independence. Parents are so scared to tell off their kids that sometimes kids act aggressively and abusive towards others without any consequences. As the English writer Aphra Behn says, “There’s no sinner like a young saint.”
It’s good to be a friend of your child, but most of all, be a parent and give them tough love.
10 Consistency Is Everything
We often associate ‘bad’ parents with aggression, verbal abuse, neglect, or substance abuse problems. However, even the cutest stay-at-home mom can have wild kids. Why? Due to lack of consistency.
We all can lose our temper and shout. That said, when there are no clear triggers behind our outbursts, kids get confused. Crying and laughing, shouting and praising, cuddling and being distant, two extremes at the same time might be too confusing for the little brain that’s constantly learning and exploring.
Also, when there’s no consistency between the two parents, kids might develop preferences for one of the parents. Some psychologists claim that moms should be associated with food and care, while dads with rules. But it’s not only about the baby’s schedule. There must be consistency in everything - parents should treat all kids equally.
9 Attachment Styles
Lack of consistency can lead to some problems in the child’s attachment. Famous researchers, such as Bowly, Ainsworth, and Bell, have explored these problems in depth, concluding that children can develop secure attachment, ambivalent attachment, and avoidant attachment. In addition, Ainsworth claims that the maternal sensitivity is a major factor in the development of the child. According to Jacobsen and Hoffman, securely attached kids view themselves of worthy of respect, while avoidant kids find themselves useless. It’s even worse for ambivalent children that might use their emotions as a way to gain attention.
Although parenting styles are important, we shouldn’t forget that there are some innate differences. Schaffer and Emerson report that some babies prefer more cuddling than others. So some wild kids are just born this way.
8 It Can Come Down To Psychopathology
Talking about innate characteristics, sometimes parents can’t do anything about their wild kids. Sadly enough, some kids are born evil without the ability to feel empathy or compassion. Well, all kids show conduct disorders, which are normal not pathological. Kids are allowed to be moody. It’s okay for them to be rebels. It’s perfect when they want to explore more and more about the world around them.
Labeling is not good, though, I agree. Still, some kids can be diagnosed with an oppositional defiant disorder or conduct disorder. Oppositional defiant disorder is a weird condition: kids act as adults or act out. On the other hand, conduct disorders are scary as they are marked by aggressive behavior. Violence against people, animals, and property are some of the devouring consequences.
7 Learning Disabilities
Before we discuss the topic of learning disabilities, we should emphasize that kids with a learning disability are not bad and teachers and parents should stop punishing them for what they are. The truth, though, is that kids with a learning disability can also have some behavioral problems. And that’s nothing to do with bad parents.
The spectrum of learning disabilities is very broad. Some of the most common problems are dyslexia and AHDH. On top of that, we should stop thinking in terms of verbal and reading problems. Many kids suffer from a nonverbal learning disability, which is related to their spatial awareness. That can lead to inappropriate social behavior, poor social skills and fear from new situations. In fact, researchers suggest that up to 80% of kids with Asperger’s syndrome also have a nonverbal learning disability.
6 Head Injuries
One of the worst things that can happen to parents is to see their own child suffering. In our world accidents happen every day. Crashes, assaults, incidents at home, and the list goes on and on.
Head injury is one of the worst consequences, which can lead to many neurological and behavioral problems. Personality changes, memory loss, and aggressive behavior are only some of the issues related to head injury. Mood swings, self-centered attitude and even inappropriate sexual behavior are also among the painful consequences.
One of the reasons why people change after a brain injury is that certain areas, such as the frontal lobe and the amygdala responsible for the emotional responses, get damaged.
Physical injuries also lead to frustration and suffering.
5 Emotional Trauma
There’s another type of injury that can lead to emotional and behavioral problems and make kids wild: emotional trauma. Divorce, missing parents, abusive relatives, and poor conditions can cause stress, emotional pain, and low self-esteem.
Maybe one of the worst forms of abuse is sexual trauma. Statistics show that one out of three girls and one out of five boys have been victims of sexual abuse. That can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, habit disorders, self-harm, and unusual sexual knowledge. On top of that, kids can become suicidal.
The sad truth is that many kids become victims at the hands of a family member or an adult they trust. The most important thing parents should do is listen to their kids and pay attention to their words.
4 Society And Pop Culture
Today’s world offers a lot of distractions. Kids and adults get over-stimulated by technology and possessions. Being wild is not about being close to nature anymore.
To be wild for some kids is to act as adults. And we can see young girls wearing make-up, young boys following stereotypes about women in general, and young people getting involved in risky behavior.
It’s normal for kids to be curious about the world. But when our pop culture bombards us with false morals, kids can become disrespectful and greedy. Even if parents don’t let their children watch TV, our little ones will be still exposed to today’s pop culture. We cannot and shouldn’t isolate and lock our babies... but we can help them follow a good role model.
3 General Temperament
Sometimes it’s not about the external factors in our life but our personality. Back to the nurture-nature dispute, we all have some unique temperament traits. Which means that sometimes parents can’t change their kids.
Many different classifications exist. For instance, there are four classic types: Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Choleric and Melancholic. If we follow this old but known division, we should say that sanguine personality types are risk-oriented and choleric types are so goal-oriented that forget about the importance of their social life. Thus, we can conclude that these kids will be more difficult compared to the relaxed phlegmatic and the quiet melancholic types.
Actually, it’s interesting to mention that this ancient typology is based on the medical concept of humors, or the existence of various bodily fluids.
2 Baby's Astrological Symbol
Temperament types might sound too abstract to some people, just like astrology. Some people don’t believe in astrology but we should admit the importance of birth charts. Zodiac signs, planets, and ascendants, many factors might influence our kids, wild or not.
Of course, each person is unique, but in general, there are four elements in the popular Western astrology that might predict one’s personality. Fire signs (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius) are ambitious, Earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn) are more practical, Air signs (Gemini, Libra, Aquarius) are communicative and Water signs (Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces) are sensitive.
In addition, the Chinese horoscope is also very influential with its 12 animals.
If we accept that astrology plays a role, parents have nothing to do with that. Well, maybe only if they’d planned the birth of their child at a certain month.
1 Free Choice
Last but not least, when we talk about wild kids and ‘bad’ parents we should realize that our free will also plays a significant role.
Kids can choose to be difficult. Sometimes they want attention, sometimes they want things their way, sometimes they don’t know what they’re doing, sometimes they just copy the behavior of their friends or due to peer pressure they act mean.
Although there's a theory in psychology, known as affective forecasting (coined by Wilson and Gilbert), that claims that people can predict their emotions and reactions, the world is so diverse that we can't be sure about the future.
Instead of blaming 'bad' parents and punishing wild kids, people should try to understand and help each other. Because there's good in this world.
Sources: EmpoweringParents.com, Parenting.com, PsychologyToday.com