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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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Last Updated on July 10, 2019

30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

A Few Home Truths

    “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
    ― Mark Twain


    “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
    ― Leonardo da Vinci


    “Someday is not a day of the week.”
    ― Janet Dailey


    “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
    ― Israelmore Ayivor


    “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
    ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


    “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
    ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


    “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
    ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


    “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
    ― Matshona Dhliwayo


    “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
    ― Abraham Lincoln


    “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
    ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


    “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
    ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


    “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
    ― José N. Harris


    Some Practical Advice

      “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
      ― Hilary Mantel


      “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
      ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


      “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
      ― Pablo Picasso


      “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
      ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


      “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
      ― Clifford Cohen


      “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
      ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


      “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
      ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


      “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
      ― James Jones


      Some Tough Love

        “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
        ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


        “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
        ― George Bernard Shaw


        “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
        ― José N. Harris


        “What is deferred is not avoided.”
        ― Thomas More


        “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
        ― Chuck Close


        “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
        ― Roy Bennett


        “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


        “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
        ― Debasish Mridha


        When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

          “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
          ― Denis Waitley


          “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
          ― Karen Lamb


          Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

          It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

          More Motivational Quotes

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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