Is Your Kid a Rebel? That Could Pay Off in the Long Term

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If you are raising a kid who tends to act out and break the rules, take heart. Findings of a new study suggest there could be financial rewards for this behavior.

If you’re a parent of a boundary-pushing, rule-breaking youngster, we have good news: Your disagreeable, defiant child will most likely grow up to be richer than his or her rule-following peers.

A study published in the journal Developmental Psychology found that children who were rule-breakers at age 12 earned more money four decades later compared with their more responsible, obedient peers.

Researchers from the University of Luxembourg, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Free University of Berlin looked at the characteristics and behaviors of more than 700 12-year-old children recorded in a 1968 study — including their intelligence, socioeconomic status and their conduct at school and home — and then looked at those same individuals’ career earnings in 2008 at age 52.

The study found that “rule-breaking and defiance of parental authority was the best noncognitive predictor of higher income after accounting for the influence of IQ, parental [socioeconomic status] and educational attainment.”

The researchers theorized that individuals with defiant personalities are more willing to fight for salary raises or promotions.

“We might assume that students who scored high on this 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,” the study said.

Researchers also speculated that rule-breakers potentially “get higher pay for unethical reasons.”

The study findings seem to fall in line with the “nice guys finish last” idiom or, in this case, “well-behaved kids earn less.”

Although you don’t want to encourage full-out defiance in your child — raising a rule-breaker is no piece of cake — experts say it’s possible to teach a defiant child when it makes sense to break rules and when they should practice obedience.

“There’s a balance that requires preserving that spirit while allowing them to understand the consequences to behaviors,” relationship expert and advice columnist April Masini told MarketWatch.

If you’re a parent who’s ready to pull your hair out trying to deal with your little rule-breaker, just keep reminding yourself: That defiant streak may help them earn a sizable salary later on in life. And who knows? Maybe they’ll make enough to help you buy your dream retirement home.

What do you think of this study? Are you raising a rule-breaker? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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