Why the Most Obedient Children Can Be the Most Unhappy

Did you know that the most obedient children can sometimes be the most unhappy? Learn more in the following article.
Why the Most Obedient Children Can Be the Most Unhappy

Last update: 22 February, 2022

Children are curious by nature and it’s normal for them to want to explore everything around them. Having the possibility of exploring with freedom will keep their spirit happy. The thing is that sometimes they’ll have to disobey you a little to be able to venture. And it’s okay for them to do so from time to time; remember that sometimes the most obedient children can be the most unhappy.

No parent wants their children to be unhappy, yet all parents want their children to be obedient. And both can be possible. Obedience has nothing to do with martiality; you can be obedient and at the same time be free and happy. The goal is that your child learns to be obedient because they want to be and not because they’re afraid.

It’s not always good for children to be blindly obedient, especially when that obedience comes from submission. Obedience has nothing to do with submission, and this is well known by those who are used to deciding and acting with freedom, who can give their opinion about what they0re told to do without being punished, and who’ve learned that they can also say no.

However, there are parents who confuse a submissive attitude with obedience.

In doing so, they ignore that a submissive child may obey an order without complaining because they’re afraid of facing the consequences of disobeying, but not really because they want to do what their parent asked them to do.

Obedient but unhappy

A mother shaking her finger in the face of her disobedient daughter.

This attitude may be the consequence of an upbringing in which fear is instilled in the child, which is usually marked by little respect for infants, as they’re not invited to participate or to give their opinion about what happens at home and no one explains to them the reason for the rules that are enforced at home.

When a child obeys when their parents are watching and as soon as they turn around they disobey them, you’re dealing with a child who learned to obey under threats and not because they understand why it’s necessary for them to obey their parents’ orders. Many times, even though these are seemingly the most obedient children, they’re also the most unhappy.

Your parenting style can make your children obedient because they choose to be and not because they feel threatened. And to advance in this, you need to identify that there are different types of obedience: The one that comes from respect -and the autonomy that offers free discernment- and the one that’s rooted in fear of the consequences of disobeying parents, society… And a child who acts with fear is simply unhappy.

Obedient by choice

A mother hugging her young daughter in a field.

It’s proven that children who learn to obey the limits out of fear of punishment or who comply with the rules only because they’re thinking of getting a good reward aren’t free children when it really boils down to it. Their actions aren’t the result of their own free will.

When a child learns to obey a person who threatens them, this damages the quality of the relationships they establish, because they’ll only react to this type of behavior, that is, they won’t obey people who don’t threaten them. Imagine, then, the kind of relationships they’ll form as an adult.

In addition, this type of upbringing will teach them that, in the world, there are the oppressors and the oppressed, and most likely, they’ll feel that it’s better to play the role of the oppressor than the oppressed.

There are also cases of children who, because of the fear they constantly feel of being scolded, punished, or even beaten, are certainly some of the most obedient, but their personality becomes withdrawn, nervous, and fearful. Usually, this type of behavior leads to problems of low self-esteem and poor management of their emotions.

In short, children learning to obey out of fear is very negative. The fear limits their desire to try, to make mistakes, to investigate, to venture out, and it’s likely that they’ll never try to “break the rules”, which limits their growth as a person.

Freedom and respect are living sources of happiness. And these values can contribute to the education of your child who must learn that obeying is often much more beneficial for them than for their parents or caregivers, and that’s achieved when they understand the reason for the rules.

When a child learns to consciously understand that obeying certain rules benefits their growth and well-being as a person, then they begin to follow the rules everywhere. This behavior also leads them to respect all people equally, no matter if it’s their parents, grandparents, teachers, or a stranger.

Exercising the freedom to decide and learning to differentiate what’s good for them and what isn’t; and based on that, determining whether to obey or not, will help them always be curious, excited, and eager to learn new things, but also cautious and conscious.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.