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6 Reasons Why Rebellious Kids Turn Out To Be More Successful

6 Reasons Why Rebellious Kids Turn Out To Be More Successful

Does your child get sent home with a note from the teachers because of disobedience, defiance or maybe talking back to almost everyone? Here’s a silver lining for parents of rule-breaking children: such surly kids with a classical defiance to authority could end up being very successful in life.

A new study published in Development Psychology suggests that your naughty child will probably grow up to have more occupational success and earn more than his/her well-behaving peers. The researchers measured occupational success by using an index that ranks careers based on prestige and socioeconomic status.

The notion that well-behaved kids don’t always finish first over the long run is not unheard of. Previous studies have found the character trait of “agreeableness” is negatively correlated with income and earnings. Perhaps on cue, these findings echo the popular Americanism attributed to legendary baseball manager Leo Durocher: “Nice guys finish last.”

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Rebellious children tend to have higher incomes as grownups

Researchers with the University of Luxembourg, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Free University of Berlin tracked data on 745 people in Luxembourg from the time they were about 12 years old in 1968 until 2008, when their average age was about 52. They discovered that those who defied authority as children tended to have higher incomes as grownups.

In other words, after accounting for the impact of IQ-level and class background, the researchers found that “rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority” was the best predictor of which students ended up making higher incomes. The writers called this a “surprising finding” and admitted there were reasons to be cautious about it. But they did float theories on why this might be the case—theories that align with what other experts have said on the matter.

Keep in mind that many of what we see as disobedience or illicit activities in children is actually just natural, curious, exploring, learning behavior. Ross Levine, co-author of another paper for the National Bureau of Economic Research that identifies a number of characteristics in youths that tend to be associated with entrepreneurial success later on in life, says: “Those people who become the most successful entrepreneurs tend to have the unique combination of cognitive and non-cognitive traits.”

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Here’re six reasons given by researchers why rebellious children often turn out to be more successful.

1. They are more willing to be more demanding during critical junctures

“We might assume that students who scored high on this [rebellious] scale might earn a higher income because they are more willing to be more demanding during critical junctures, such as when negotiating salaries or raises,” explained the Researchers with the University of Luxembourg, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Free University of Berlin. This means that a rebellious child can grow up to be more heard in the workplace, especially when decisions need to be made quickly and efficiently.

2. They have higher levels of willingness to stand up for their own interests

Another reason rebellious kids succeed as grownups might be that childhood troublemakers “also have higher levels of willingness to stand up for their own interests and aims, a characteristic that leads to more favorable individual outcomes—in our case, income,” said the researchers with the three universities. Making yourself heard in the workplace definitely leads to a higher salary.

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3. They tend to push boundaries and reach for more and/or better

Alison Roy, lead child and adolescent psychotherapist at East Sussex Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the UK suggests that these “rebel” kids not only stand up for their interests, but also push the boundaries and engaged in “risky” activity. “Children who have been responded to, led to believe – in a healthy way – that their voice is valued, that all they have to do is object and action will be taken – they will push boundaries. And this is really healthy behavior,” she is quoted saying. Rebellious children question the status quo, which can lead to serious progress!

4. They tend to stay in school longer and are more likely to pursue higher education

It turns out that kids who defy their parents stay in school longer and are more likely to pursue higher education, according to the study in Development Psychology. This can be taken to mean that the kids are better qualified and thus better placed for higher pay and occupational success. Even those kids who drop out of college don’t necessarily fail. The paper for the National Bureau of Economic says 54 percent of these college dropouts tend to have entrepreneurial success without college degrees. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Page who dropped out of college to start Facebook and Google respectively.

5. They tend to be more likeable, even after meeting them for just a short time

Other studies have found that people who are more likely to break the rules are more likeable, even after meeting them for just a short time. Likeability can lead to success because even secondary connections that are memorable lead to friendships, professional relationships, and more. In addition, likeability is not usually associated with more extreme anti-social behavior, such as violence or intimidation. Interestingly, studies estimate that between 40 and 60 percent of the population carry the “rebel” gene linked to rebellious behavior.

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6. They may be more successful for unethical reasons

Researchers in the study published in Development Psychology point out a more concerning reason that children who exhibit rebellious behavior can grow up to be more successful. “We also cannot rule out that individuals who are likely or willing to break rules get higher pay for unethical reasons,” the researchers wrote in the recently published paper.

In view of these findings, it is important to ask ourselves two important questions: firstly, is an obedient child cause for concern or celebration? Secondly, and this is important, is an obedient adult cause for concern or celebration? Obviously an obedient adult is not quite so attractive.

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Published on March 19, 2019

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success

How Your Attitude Determines Your Success


Do you remember the last time you faced a major setback–when you felt so low, that nothing seemed to make you happy? No matter how hard you tried, you just felt like the world was against you. Perhaps it was a bad relationship, or the loss of a loved one… maybe something bad happened at work? Whatever it may be, could you recall how your attitude was towards that situation?

Often when we’re caught in an unhappy situation, we feel limited and sometimes trapped. We want to get out of it as quickly as we can, but it’s never quite that simple.

Unfortunately, some people can remain in that terrible situation for weeks, months or even years; while others may come out strong and ready to start over–or continue from where they left off–fairly quickly.

So what sets these two groups apart?

The answer is their attitude.

Attitude is everything when it comes to achieving a goal, and tackling a setback or problem. 

When you’re able to have a positive mindset, you’ll be able to break free of your limitations that are holding you back.

A positive attitude also goes a long way in ensuring you come out victorious from whatever limitations that were holding you back before. It transforms not just your mental state, but your physical and emotional well being. It is the key to lasting total transformation.

Positive Attitude Brings About Positive Health 

When you’re stuck in a rut, often the first thoughts that run through your head are negative, thus your outlook likely becomes pessimistic. But, if you can transform those thoughts into more positive ones, then you’re on your way to talking yourself out of that rut, which allows you to move forward.

Of course, positive thinking doesn’t mean ignoring all the bad or unpleasant feelings altogether. It just means that you approach unpleasantness in a more positive and productive way–instead of taking everything as a victim to negative circumstances, you see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Be aware of self talk!

These automatic thoughts can be positive or negative. Some of your self talk comes from logic and reason, while other self talk may arise from misconceptions that you create. Others could come from external sources such as negative people around you, or messages from the media.

The key is to surround yourself with positive influences that can help turn those negative thoughts into positive, more productive actions.You’ll not only feel better about the situation, but in the long run, positive thinking can lower your levels of distress and depression and give you better coping skills during hardships.

Researchers studying the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health have also found that positive thinking may provide increased life span, better cardiovascular health and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and even greater resistance to the common cold!

It’s unclear why people who engage in positive thinking experience these health benefits, but one theory is that having a positive outlook enables you to cope better with stressful situations, which reduces the harmful health effects of stress on your body.

It’s also thought that positive and optimistic people tend to live healthier lifestyles — they get more physical activity, follow a healthier diet, and don’t smoke or drink alcohol in excess.

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Suffering is Inevitable, So It’s Best to Accept It 

Now, one thing that everyone goes through at some point, is suffering. It’s a harsh reality, yet you can’t actually avoid it. We experience suffering as the result of unhappiness, fear, anger, loss or frustration. In fact, it would be hard to even imagine the feeling of happiness if we never experienced suffering! How would we ever compare it?

So instead of wallowing in sorrow about the suffering you have endured, take the suffering as an opportunity for change. Did you get laid off from your job? Perhaps this would be a good time to re-assess your career goals.

Rather than feeling negative and stuck, use your time and energy to find opportunities which will put you ahead. With the right attitude, anything can seem possible.

This may sound crazy, but suffering is the secret to being successful! 

Here’s what I mean. It’s impossible to think of new ideas or understand new experiences without stepping outside of your comfort zone. Anyone who has met great successes has also faced many failures, as nobody wins on every try.

To propel you toward success, find a way to track your progress and to set and celebrate small benchmarks. It may be helpful to conduct a weekly review to assess where you are and acknowledge all of the small wins of the week. Every accomplishment, no matter how small, is an achievement; so, be sure to take note of them.

Tracking your progress is also a great way to find and mitigate triggers and hindrances that impede your progress. The point is, you’re making progress; even if it feels like suffering, you can see that it’s leading you to joy.

Remember, don’t compare yourself to others. Only compare yourself to who you were yesterday. Each step you make towards progress is making you a better version of you.

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Gratitude Goes a Long Way in Shaping Attitude 

Now, this may seem difficult to do when you’re already feeling down, but having gratitude is a very useful when you’re trying to navigate your way out of a setback. Being grateful for existing accomplishments and the supports in your life will help you see them more clearly, build your own confidence, and give you a better overall outlook on what your limitations really are and what you have to do to overcome them.

With a grateful attitude, you limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Being grateful, even during the toughest of times, steers your attitude towards a more positive one, allowing you to get back on your feet much more quickly. Many studies done on gratitude have shown positive results for people who practice regularly, such as improvement in relationships and in mental health. There’s even studies that show higher motivation in work settings due to a simple ‘thank you’ from managers to their subordinates.

Believe in Yourself and Your Truth

This is often easier said than done, but is also the most empowering truth to overcoming your setbacks and limitations in life.

Many people find it hard to keep a positive attitude during tough times because they lack inner confidence. They doubt their abilities because of the ‘failure’ that they’re experiencing, and don’t think that they can rise above again.

But, confidence doesn’t just come from talent, luck or easy opportunity. Confidence comes from overcoming difficulties and facing your fears head on. 

Confidence is a result of getting out of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more confident you’ll be, and the more positive your attitude will be. Confidence will help you see your goals more clearly, find your strengths within, reach your goals and overcome your limitations much more quickly.

Here’s a quick story about my own struggles helping me get ahead:

When I first started Lifehack, it took a long time to gain a solid readership. Just getting 100 visitors was a challenge and took a good bit of time. I had great ambitions for this site, yet it seemed like I was doomed to fail. I received plenty of criticism, too. Some people thought that the world didn’t need yet another self help site, others offered the opinion that there was something wrong with the idea itself and I was making a mistake.

It was hard for me not to listen to them and, at some times, agree. But, persistence is key, and in the end I chose to believe in my truth.

I worked tirelessly changing the site layout, restructuring articles, and making the site more user friendly. Slowly, I expanded to a team with the hiring of some extremely dynamic and talented people. With each determined effort, the site grew in popularity, and a few years later, we had influenced millions–and continue to do so.

Pushing myself out of my comfort zone and facing every challenge head on were the greatest contributing factors to increasing my confidence. So welcome the challenges that come; don’t avoid them, as they’re all opportunities in disguise to feed your growth.

Your Attitude Sets the Tone for Success 

Do you see the importance of having a positive attitude? It is so much more than a mindset or state of mind. Your attitude sets the tone for every action and behavior that follows after, and that will determine how long it takes for you to break free from your current circumstance.

So if you’re currently in an unhappy situation, why not give it a try and look at things from a more positive outlook? As mentioned, not only does having a positive attitude bring about favorable outcomes, it also brings about positive health in the long run.

Embracing hardship as it is, and using it as a learning experience to grow, will also make you stronger. And, whether you’re going through good or bad times, practicing gratitude will no doubt help to limit the damage of negative influences, and strengthen the impact of positive ones.

Lastly, in any circumstance, you are your greatest barrier to success, which is why it’s important to always believe in yourself!

You will always have the power to be in control of your situation because your attitude is determined by you. So start harnessing all that positive thinking to turn those limitations into strengths!

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Featured photo credit: Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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