bad behavior

4 Bad Things Your Kids Do That Should Make You Proud

I grew up on movies from the Eighties, especially those starring John Cusack. In one of those movies, he plays a character named Gib, a college student who is traveling across the country with another student named Alison. When they lose all of their money, they end up sitting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter with only gum to satisfy their hunger. Much to Alison’s dismay, Gib starts complaining, “I’m starving. I’m freezing to death. My feet are killing me. I just swallowed my gum.” Finally, Alison challenges him by saying, “Your incessant complaining isn’t doing us any good. Can’t you look on the bright side?!” Then it starts pouring rain.

When it comes to raising kids it can be tough to see the bright side when your kids exhibit bad behavior. We can start to see our kids going down a troubling path or how it will hurt them if that behavior continues. However, there are some positive revelations in the behavior we miss because we are so focused on the negative. While the bad behavior is by definition bad and in need of correction, it’s equally important to recognize the character traits that will serve them well in life. Here are 4 bad things kids do that can make you proud, at least partially.

1. Lying

In our house lying is the worst offense because of its impact on trust and relationships. It’s one of the most important acts to correct. However, lying shows significant brain development in intelligence, foresight, strategy, imagination, and creativity. Telling an effective lie requires a person to be able to think about the end goal and create a reality that fits and helps them reach that goal. The more elaborate the lie, the more creativity involved.

Take Away: Affirm these positive attributes and promote ways for your kids to nurture them in a healthy manner.

2. Physical Risk-Taking

I once went into the backyard and found my seven-year-old son on the roof. After he came down, at my command, I asked him how he got up there. He said, “There are three ways to get on the roof.” When kids engage in dangerous behavior it reveals curiosity, imagination, and a sense of adventure. According to Harvard Business Review, people who are curious have a “hungry mind” which leads to a higher intellect.

Take away: While we need to protect our children from recklessness, we need to give them room to explore and risk. Even when that risk involves possible injury.  

3. Willfulness

The willful child is exhausting. I know, I have one. The good news is a willful child is someone who possesses individual thought. A person who is willful is less likely to follow the crowd and adhere to peer pressure. Be patient, consistent, and firm as you reinforce to your willful child the right way, not just to act, but to think. It may be hard today, but it will most likely pay off in the long run.

Take away: Behavior modification won’t work. Your point of impact needs to be focused on molding their motivation and attitude that causes their behavior.

4. Fighting

Fighting should be discouraged and only used as a last source of defense. When a child is quick to come to blows it shows a number of things. Plenty are negative, but some good points are courage, determination, and a willingness to stand up for themselves or those they care about. Fighting is an emotionally difficult and taxing experience, even for those who seem to invite it. A part of the discussion with children should involve building them back up by expressing to them these admirable qualities they displayed. Then show them more productive ways to live them out.

Take Away: Teach your kids how to stand up for themselves, both physically and emotionally. When they do, affirm them.

Sound Off

What are some other positive characteristics we draw out from our kids' bad behavior?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • skydvrboy

    One of my proudest days as a father was when my son punched another kid. A teacher’s kid had been bullying him for months. He went through all the proper channels, telling the coach, his teachers, the principle, and even asked my wife and I to talk to the principle, which we did. However, those in charge did nothing.

    It finally came to head at basketball practice. With my son holding the kid with his left, he cocked a fist with his right and told the bully to quit picking on him. Instead of backing down, the kid spit on him, at which point my son unleashed a solid right hook to the eye.

    He got three days out of school suspension and the other kid had one day of Saturday school. In the end, he did the right thing and took the consequences like a man. My son has never been violent before or since… and the bullying stopped.

    • BJ_Foster

      You should be proud. How brave. That could be one of those defining moments in his life. Hopefully this is an experience he can draw confidence from if he is ever faced with self doubt.

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