Mom Believes Some Kids Are Incapable of Being Disciplined

Elle Silver

Are some children born "feral"?
Photo by Migs Reyes

Mary Katherine Backstrom, a mom and blogger, wrote a now-viral post on TODAY Parenting Team Community about how some kids are just, well, "feral."

Parents can potty train and sleep train and teach manners until their brains are about to explode, but there are some children who, for some reason God only knows, can’t be tamed.

According to Backstrom, these are the kids "who meet your emergency room deductible by February."

She also notes:

They are the kids who are responsible for your forehead wrinkles and every, single gray hair. They play too close to the water, run through the hallways with forks, and somehow (like really, HOW?) climb the fireplace mantle.

She gives advice to parents who have children who act like what she calls "wildebeests."

Cover your electric outlets with plastic plugs and anchor your furniture to the floor. Hide your batteries on the highest shelf and lower that crib mattress a little more.

She says this because, in her opinion, "you aren’t going to tame that feral child. Best you can hope for is to simply survive them."

Is this true? Are there some children who just can't be tamed? Some parents think so.

Mom's firstborn is sweet, but her secondborn is...wild.

Pri Walker, a mother and a blogger, shares a similar story. Her firstborn is "a sweet, even-tempered little boy who, even in his worst moments, [seems] so calm and collected." And yet, her second child, a girl, "marches to the beat of her own drum and sometimes just marches to nowhere, just to say she did. She doesn’t follow the rules, because they don’t apply to her."

Walker's daughter "knows no fear... She is by any definition of the word, my wild child."

It's impossible to treat her second child like her first child. They were just born different.

Maybe it's true: some children are just born "feral."

What works for other people's kids won't work for "wild children."

Lisa Siberry shared in an article for Babyolgy that some children are indeed born "spirited."

What works for other people’s children just doesn’t work with yours. Reward charts, naughty corners, timeouts … you gave up on those a long time ago. This is when other parents will feed you lots of well-meaning advice, and all you can do is nod. You know that your guy is walking to his own tune most of the time, and really, you’re doing your best just trying to keep up.

As a mother of a wild child myself, I agree that the same rules that tame other children just don't tame mine. Our nanny told me that my son was the worst-behaved child she ever met. Same goes for a babysitter. Our son's first-grade teacher said he was the biggest troublemaker in the class.

Things got better when our son was diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a chronic condition including attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness.

We put our son on Ritalin at school and his behavior improved. He started getting better grades and disrupting the classroom less.

Sadly, people judge us for that too, claiming it's bad to medicate children. I feel like only we know what's best for our son though.

Backstrom says if someone judges your child, let them take care of him or her for a day.

Then go back in 24 hours and see how confident Mr. Know It All still feels about parenting your feral born child.

We have something to learn from "feral" children.

Backstrom and Walker both say parents can learn from these kids.

Walker shares that her second child made her a mother in the full sense of the word. Backstrom writes that we can benefit from "these wild at heart, freedom-filled, life-relishing little humans."

The idea is not to change these spirited kids but just to accept them.

As the mom of one such child, I agree. What do you think? Do you think wild children can be trained? Or do they just need more discipline? Are parents being weak by not being firmer with such kids?

Let me know in the comments.

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I write about dating, marriage, divorce, family, society, and the city I live in: Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, CA

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