01 Jun

Don’t raise an obedient child. What did we just say? Yes, its true

raising disobedient kids


As parents, we often like obedient children. It saves lots of effort and time when the child obeys our instructions. But then an obedient child may miss out on the all-round development of his/her personality. When the child is not in the company of his/her parents and has to take an independent decision, he/she is at a loss. And this situation may result in getting hurt, getting lost, etc.

This quote stands true for such children. “ Obedient children grow into obedient adults. They’re less likely to stand up for themselves, more likely to be taken advantage of. They’re also capable of simply following orders without question, without taking responsibility for their actions”.- Dr Laura Markham

What is it to raise an obedient child:

We somehow got into the wrong notion that raising obedient kids is the ultimate goal of parenting. This may be related to our own upbringing or our culture. When we stress on raising obedient kids, we focus more on chores getting done than on the kids.

This makes our job easy. When we see children being obedient, we appreciate the parents. But then we don’t want an obedient child to grow into an obedient adult. We often make fun and ridicule an adult who is obedient and cannot stand on his/her own.

What is the problem with raising an obedient child?

As parents when we demand obedience from our children, it takes away their inner voice to determine and take a decision on what feels right or wrong. It becomes very difficult for the child when the parents or caretakers are constantly making decisions for them and are not giving an option to choose or decide. The disadvantages of being obedient are-

1. The child will be unable to make an independent decision when it is most needed.

2. He /she will depend on parent’s instructions to deal with any small situations.

3. An obedient child is looked upon as a good child, but then this child may not have the forethought to see through a situation.

4. Such kids are subjected to peer pressure at its worst since they don’t know how to handle the situation in the absence of their parents.

5. A false self is created in an obedient child. The child thinks that being obedient is the only way to receive the parent’s love.

6. A parent can force obedience to the child but will fail to identify the causes behind the child’s behaviour.

7. As a parent when we demand obedience from our child, it doesn’t help to build trust or bonding so crucial for the parent-child relationship.

8. We parents are lead to believe that obedient children mean successful parenting. But now we realize that obedient children are cause for concern.

9. The obedient child will grow into an obedient adult with no individuality and whose only job is to listen or take orders from his/her boss.

When is disobedience among a child regarded as a problem?

When a child is disobedient, parenting seems to be challenging. The parents have to put an extra effort to convince the child to do something. In this way, disobedient children test the patience of the parents before they agree to follow the instructions.

Sometimes the parents are put in embarrassing situations when the child refuses to listen. Also, disobedience can put the child into dangers which he/she may not be capable to handle. Due to these reasons, the parents start regarding disobedience as bad behaviour and try to discipline the child with negative results.

Merits of raising a disobedient kid:

Parents have to realise that disobedience in children is not a negative trait but actually, a behaviour that is natural, curious, exploring, thinking, questioning, learning or reasoning behaviour. It is their way of reacting to situations over which they have no control. And in this process, they become smarter and are able to stand on their own feet.

1. Creative:

Disobedient kids would not take orders blindly from their parents. They would find different and often creative ways to do things which is different than what their parents have expected.

2. Self-motivated:

Such kids are often self-motivated. When they set their mind on some task, they will not stop until it is done however difficult it is. And when the task doesn’t interest them, no amount of pressure by the parents would make them do.

3. Risk takers:

The disobedient kids are risk takers. They will put aside all the cautions and warnings when they feel they can take the risk. The outcome may be success or disaster which they accept positively.

4. Rebels:

Disobedient kids often become rebels when the parents insist on obedience. They chart their own way and make their own decisions. Rebels have reached great heights and achieved feats which would not have been possible if they were under the shadow of their parents.

5. Leadership qualities:

Such kids often exhibit leadership qualities. Not only will they refuse to take the beaten path but also motivate others to follow the path, they have charted out.

6. Independent thinkers:

They are independent thinkers. When faced with a situation, they think, analyse and then react in a way that satisfies them and not their parents or elders.

7. Angry outbursts:

Disobedient kids tend to have angry outbursts as they struggle with their emotions. They shout, cry, stomp their feet etc. if things don’t happen as they wanted.

8. Make their own rules:

They will prefer to make their own rules and policies rather than follow the parent’s guidelines. Strong-willed kids are sensitive and are very concerned about fairness. They often blame their parents that they are not fair even when they are fair.

How to strike a balance between obedience and disobedience in a child?

We as parents should understand that an obedient child will follow the instructions blindly without understanding the repercussions of the actions and not take any responsibility. Also, we never know, there will be situations when the child must obey without being told twice, especially during emergencies.

The children should be empowered enough to understand when they must obey and when they can question the authority. Finally, we have to understand that a child is not a robot. He/she will try to understand what and why something is happening and disobedience is one of the main behaviours that help in this understanding.

How to channelize a disobedient child in the right direction?

  1. When raising a strong-willed child, we have to understand that the child will be an independent thinker and at the same time well-behaved.
  2. Supporting such a child, first and foremost we need to understand the behaviour and thought the process of the child and why he/she is exhibiting disobedience.
  3. Also, accept that disobedience is a normal trait in the children. This is the way they learn using the trial and error method.
  4. A strong-willed child may often put himself/herself into dangers. As parents, we have to be watchdog our strong-willed child but without any interference and at the same time step in when our child may be in a dangerous situation.
  5. Communication is the key to handle strong-willed children. Screaming and shouting at such a child will only bring about a negative reaction. Being calm and reasoning would yield better results.
  6. Pick the right time or moment to speak to your child when he/ she is in the right frame of mind. Be firm when you have to say no. Leave no room for haggling or negotiations.
  7. Whenever your child exhibits positive behaviour, remember to appreciate and reward the behaviour such that the behaviour is reinforced.
  8. Instead of obedience, seek cooperation from your child. This would be a win-win situation for both you and your child.

Closing thoughts:

Gone are the days of, ‘’spare the rod and spoil the child”. In our childhood children were expected to be obedient and if not they were forced to be obedient with the threat of punishment. Disobedience was not tolerated. The present generation of kids is smart and well-informed.

They have the ability to question the authority and at the same time not afraid of venturing into unknown territory. They will follow their heart to fulfil their passion. Such children are perceived to be disobedient but we never know what heights they may reach which as a parent we may never even dream of.

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Radhika is a freelance poet, writer and teacher settled at Secunderabad. She is also a life skills trainer for children. Her articles and poems have been published in Woman's Era, Teacher Plus, The Hindu and websites like wow parenting. Her husband Rayudu and son Prashanth support and inspire her in her endeavours.