The Upside Of Being A Naughty Kid

The surprising link is brought to life by Alain de Botton, the philosopher, and founder of The School of Life, an educational company delivering daily advice on life issues. He is the author of many best-selling books, including “How Proust Can Change Your Life” (1997), “On Love: A Novel” (2006), “The Course of Love: A Novel” (2016) or Status Anxiety (2004). You may check more of his great work here.

In a recent post, the internationally bestselling author talks about the connection between naughty children and great parents.

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The Swiss-British writer asks us to draw a picture in our head depicting a typical day within two types of families. In one family, the children are quiet, respectful, even compliant. They don’t make a fuss about anything and do things properly: they ask their parents how their day went, they talk about school and appreciate the food on the table.

In the other family, things are quite different. The kids are running all over the place making a mess, they’re picky about food and refuse to come to the table. They mock their parents’ remarks, call their mother a plain idiot and show a complete disinterest when parents ask them about homework, storming out of the room while stating school is stupid and a total waste of time.

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From the outside, everything seems impeccable in family nr.1 but if you enter a child’s mind, you may be surprised at how different things actually are.

The kid from family one might be overwhelmed by an array of emotions but he chooses to keep them inside out of fear they will not be accepted by their parents. Their parents have not been so open as to let the kid be himself and have not shown them that sort of tolerance. Something that has forced the child to bottle up feelings, sometimes to a great extent.

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They fear their parents will get angry if they express their true feelings, like feeling bored, fed up or being lazy. The criticism received from a parent may be so damaging for them that they choose to shut up and hide their feelings altogether.

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Where the naughty children live, the atmosphere may be rowdy and erratic, but the offspring are totally free: free to yell and say what’s bothering them, unrestricted to make their own mother an idiot and relaxed enough to not pay any attention to whatever their parents are talking about.

HNM Photography

That’s because both parents and kids know, in their heart, that they love each other sincerely and that a bit of rudeness won’t hurt anyone. The climate is warm and strong, able to soak up the all the kid’s ‘negative emotions’: anger, aggression or disappointment.

In this regard, the good child might encounter some problems in adult life, due to being so compliant and hiding his emotions all this time. Turning into inadequate and frustrated adults, subjects of concealed depression even.

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On the contrary, being raised in an unconfined environment, the naughty child will have had time to express freely and creatively. Allain de Button calling the naughtiness ‘an early exploration of authenticity and independence.’

Naughty kids can make all the mistakes in the world and by the time they’re all grown up, they would have practiced embarrassing and ridiculous things. They are used to criticism and they take it well. Plus, they grow up to become very comfortable in their own skin.

If you allow your child to be as naughty as he can, you’re likely to be a fantastic parent. Pass this on!