Could Your Difficult Child Be the Next Steve Jobs?


The tantrum-throwing, screaming child at the grocery store. The kid who refuses to play nice at recess. The teenager who breaks the rules and pushes the limits. If you’re raising a difficult kid, you can’t help but wonder, “If my child is this way now, what’s he or she going to be like in 20 years?”

Well…you may be pleasantly surprised.

Studies show that difficult children may grow up to make the best entrepreneurs, and that rule-breaking behavior is actually linked to an entrepreneurial spirit. Case in point, here are just a few of the wildly successful entrepreneurs who were fired from jobs — some for defiant behavior — before going off to make millions and a major name for themselves: Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, billionaire business mogul Mark Cuban, “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, Walt Disney, Vogue editor Anna Wintour and singer Madonna.

If you’re looking to help your child use difficult behavior to serve him or her well in the future, the following tips provide some guidance.

Let their talents shine

Experts suggest working with your child on inherent gifts and abilities can aid in encouraging entrepreneurial interests. If your child is an exceptional artist, writer or dancer, focus on ways to hone in on and develop that activity through extracurricular groups and activities. Discuss the possibility of how he or she could use that talent in the future, as an adult.

Allow for exploration

Allowing your child to explore many activities until he or she finds her or her passion could be the first step to finding a suitable career down the road. The more activities your child is exposed to, the more likely he or she will find what truly ignites his or her spirit.

Give them freedom

While it’s important to set boundaries and ensure your child is safe and respectful, it’s also important to allow him or her the freedom to test boundaries and overcome fears. Allowing a level of independence in risky or unpredictable situations will help to foster confidence and ability to succeed in the future.

Further, allow your child to challenge some rules — provided he or she offers a good reason for doing so. Ask what rules need to change and why. This type of discussion can be eye-opening for both parents and children. Plus, it lets your kid know that he or she can be a force for change.

Be open to non-traditional career paths

Although you may dream of your child growing up to be a successful lawyer or accountant, freelance work offers a low-risk opportunity for those who want to try different things. Multi-level marketing can be ideal jobs for driven, energetic, outside-of-the-box thinking people. Companies such as Amway — the global leader in direct sales — offer unique career opportunities that are an alternative to the typical 9-to-5 grind and may be just the place for entrepreneurial-spirited kids to find success as adults.

Whether creative, consulting or business-focused, other freelance gigs can be a good “side hustle” that may one day lead to a lucrative business for your child. The key is to keep an open mind and allow your child the freedom to go an untraditional route to success.

Though it can be tough, keep in mind that the very traits that today make parenting your child difficult may be what will make him or her a successful grown-up. While your defiant kid may be testing your will now, in the future you may thank yourself for not immediately clobbering that aspect of his or her personality.