You know the little kid who won’t stay in the corner for misbehavior? He’s also the one who figures out how to place the right amount of chairs and boxes on top of each other, up against the refrigerator, after being told that cookie jar is off-limits.
And then there’s the time he managed to get out of his seatbelt after hearing “Now I know you’re not smart enough to unlock it!” It’s usually during the instant you are heading down the road at seventy-five miles an hour with no chance to pull over, when you hear him yelling in delight from the backseat “I’m out!”
His determination to upset and go against your rules and directives never seems to end. You’ve had it! What disrespect! This kid is set on overthrowing any sort of authority in the family! What kind of future is he destined for? What kinds of parents would let this happen?!
The kid demonstrates over and over a pattern of defying expectations and limits. He has a natural inclination to prove that he is not going to be stopped. And much to his parent’s chagrin, he will most likely continue this behavior regardless of how they feel about it.
This type of mentality reminds me of a character in the book “The Fourth Estate” by Jeffrey Archer (1996, Harper Collins), who is running from the Germans during Adolph Hitler’s mass invasions of neighboring countries. The young man of seventeen faces some harrowing situations, which threaten to be his final capture and death.
I’m sure that many people will cheer for him. Even though many of the adults in this story are in grave disagreement of his actions and spending a lot of energy to make him stop; any reader with a soul can appreciate why he is taking such risks. Most adults with the book in their hands will be on the edge, hoping the soldiers are the ones giving up.
Nevertheless, at home and school, we encounter the traits of determination and persistence in young people who refuse to sit and be told to accept limitations and rules. We pull our hair out and exclaim “Why do I have to repeat myself!” We expect the spirited child to take stock of adult values and end his desire for freedom.
In my book “Jungle Pack: Therapy Workbook and Journal” (Tate Publishing, 2014), there is a section which helps to look at the different sides of a behavior, pushed by a trait which often receives negative attention. There is no excusing a child’s or teenager’s violation of boundaries. It is possible in most cases to help someone find a route to exercise such traits, which by the way are lasting. In quite a few cases, a parent will be glad to see their child use this spirit in the future where tough work requires it.
David Peace, Author of Jungle Pack: Therapy Workbook and Journal