Are There Characteristics of a Rebellious Spirit?

By Kathryn Hatter
Group of young children running through school hallway
Group of young children running through school hallway

Rebellion isn’t just reserved for the teen years – you might see it in even a young child. Some amount of conflict is typical with children, and rebellion can even be a positive attribute in some cases, according to Meier Clinics, a Christian counseling center. If you’re seeing characteristics of rebellion in your offspring, look deeper to figure out why your child is acting this way.

High-Maintenance Kids

Some kids receive a label of “rebellious” in their younger years due to their high-maintenance behavior. These spirited kids are determined and focused on achieving goals and getting what they want, even when parents object, according to psychologist Steven M. Gentry, director of Psychological Assessment & Treatment Specialists. Children can be highly energetic, argumentative, stubborn and driven to follow their own path, even during early childhood. Parents of these kids generally need to respond to this nature with firm limits and consistent consequences.

The Nonconformist

As a child grows past young childhood and nears adolescence, a spirit of nonconformity may set in. This youngster resists fitting in socially and digs his heels in to defy adult authority, according to psychologist Carl Pickhardt, writing for Psychology Today. A youngster might seem to go out of his way to be different from, and contrary to, authority figures, asserting his fierce individuality to the dismay of unhappy parents. A kid pursuing nonconformity may even become intentionally provocative and distinguish himself by changing his appearance or interests.

Angry, Bitter and Defiant Youngsters

Unhealthy rebellion is laced with explosive anger, simmering bitterness and defiance, states the University of Alabama Parenting Assistance Line. While teenagers are often the stereotypical age group for this type of rebellion, younger kids can also display these characteristics. Uncooperative behavior, refusal to accept discipline and acting out are the hallmarks of unhealthy rebellion. Trauma, neglect and abuse can be causes for this behavior. Sometimes parents interfering with a child’s normal quest for independence can contribute to this type of rebellion.

Mood Swings and Irritability

A youngster struggling with rebellion may have other issues bothering her and simmering under the surface. You may notice discontent, restlessness and mood swings, according to the Children’s Health Network. If the behavior is tied to depression, the youngster may be irritable, and she may also exhibit risk-taking behavior, warns the University of Toronto Counselling and Psychological Services. Risk-taking behavior could include drinking, drugs and criminal behavior for teenagers. Younger children may take risks by deciding not to obey rules.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.