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  • Autumn Quiles, LCSW

Kids Who Are Born Bad

Throughout the years I have met a lot of angry kids. No matter their age, from 2 to 18, these are kids who refuse to go to school, throw things in the house and yell or curse at their parents. Strangers call them "disrespectful" and dismiss them as being "born bad" (a concept that irks the heck outta me). They may have been labeled as having Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder. If they are older, they may be one step ahead of The Law. Most of the adults in these kids' lives want them to just comply with, or conform to, The Rules.

I love these kids. I can't say they are hands-down my favorite client, but they sure are close.

When I peel away the tough shell of these angry kids, I often find a very sensitive soul who feels desperate and hopeless. They feel hopeless about being liked by their teacher. Hopeless about finding true friends. Hopeless about getting along with their parents. And, mostly, hopeless about getting out of The Hole they have gotten themselves into (because, by the time I see them, they are probably in a very, very deep Hole).

Hopelessness is a brick in the foundation of Depression. The most critical component, in all the evidence-based tools for measuring/quantifying depression, is hopelessness.

Every human feels hopeless at some point. And we all respond to hopelessness in our own way. We tend to believe that hopelessness leads people to feel sad and withdraw from life, and sometimes that is true. But there are many humans, kids and adults, who respond to hopelessness with anger and a vigor to Break The World!!!, before it "breaks" them. This never-say-die, fighting spirit in a child is a strength that will fuel a child to do great things.

It takes a bit of time for the adults who surround an Angry Child to see past the anger and find the hopelessness. I can help a lot with that. Then, we work together to bombard the child with reasons, and more reasons, to feel inspired and be hopeful. And before long, if we have done our job well, we will have a child who has let go of their anger and moved toward inspiring and fueling hope, in others.

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