Study: Rebellious kids make more money over their lifetimes

Researchers found "rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority" is among predictors of how much students will earn later in life. Why's that?

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  • Defiant children may cause their parents headaches when refusing to listen — but a 2015 study indicated such rebellion could pay off later.

  • Why's that?

  • Researchers found "rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority" proved to be a predictor of which students made higher incomes in their lifetimes, Matt Phillips wrote for Quartz. Only IQ-level and class background were more telling.

  • According to Quartz, researchers with the University of Luxembourg, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Free University of Berlin analyzed data on 745 people in Luxembourg from ages 12 to 52. Unsurprisingly, they found career success linked to IQ, socioeconomic status and studiousness.

  • But rebelliousness was also telling, Yahoo Parenting reported. And researchers gave some potential reasons for the study's "surprising" element.

  • "Defy-authority types might be more aggressive when negotiating salary or raises, and they might thrive on competition more than their peers," according to Yahoo Parenting. "Also: They might be more willing to break the law or at least engage in iffy behavior to boost their income."

  • John Johnson wrote for Newser that despite a few limitations in the study — like Luxembourg's small size — it does fit with other research "that shows children who chafe against authority are more likely to go on to become entrepreneurs."

  • Still, Elizabeth Licata wrote for Mommyish that parents might face a challenge in getting anything out of the study: Should they encourage disobedience?

  • Probably not — because rule-breaking didn't guarantee success.

  • "(Encouraging rebellion is) probably not a good idea, and rewarding disobedience seems more likely to encourage one's child to grow up to be an entitled screaming brat than an economy-disrupting entrepreneur," according to Mommyish. "It's probably best to continue encouraging obedience."

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  • Parents of defiant children can do a few things to foster positivity out of rebellious behavior, though, Aric Mitchell wrote for Inquisitr.

  • Encouraging entrepreneurship, helping focus kids' behavior on productive outcomes and finding the positive outcomes of rebelliousness all help parents in communicating with their disobedient kids, Inquisitr said.

  • That last one benefits children in finding ways they can achieve success — like the study showed — but also instills positive traits.

  • "For example, part of what may be motivating them to be disobedient children is the desire to be the best or outdo a peer or opponent," Inquisitr's report read. "If that's the case, you could foster that competitive spirit and teach them to do their very best and celebrate victories without making others feel bad about themselves if they're on the losing end."

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Payton Davis is a writer for Deseret Digital Media.

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