Living with a Contrarian Kid aka Are all Middle Children like This?

According to my favorite trusty news source (ahem, Wikipedia) the meaning of Contrarian is:

“a person with a preference for taking a position opposed to that of the majority. Contrarian styles of argument and disagreement have historically been associated with radicalism and dissent.”

It’s also a great word to describe this:

looks innocent enough, doesn't he?












Before all the attachment-parenting love-dovey my-child-does-no-wrong types jumps down my throat please hear me out.

I love this, my middle child. He is a wonderful, sweet, bright, and quite hilarious soul. He has very sweet quite moments when he loves to cuddle and gives giant, long, wonderful head-hugs. He also happens to be a contrarian.

You may have read about some of his antics (like his no-good-horrible-terrible-bad morning) on this site. You may have read my tweets about him on Twitter, where he has his own hashtag, #Devilboy.

Last night, I went to meet his teacher at Back to School Night, where all the children had left a hand-drawn picture on the desk with their favorite part of their new classroom. His was the classroom toilet.

At dinner, upon hearing the menu (no matter what it entails) he HOWLS and SCREAMS and FUSSES because he doesn’t like what we’re having. EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. Last night he actually hid in the pantry, crying until I promised him he wouldn’t have to eat tacos. (I didn’t, and he eventually came out.)

When we all want to go to the park, he wants to stay home.

When we surprise the kids with a trip to the ice cream store, he’d rather not go.

If he asks you a question, he will argue with the answer, a good 90% of the time.

A typical contrarian trope takes the form “everything you know about topic X is wrong”.

When he has a fever, it takes two of us to hold him down to force Tylenol in him and even then he spits it out Excorcist-style.

His rants take on a life of their own, his temper knows no bounds, and his ability to turn our household upside down is absolutely terrifying, despite our efforts to contain, discipline, reason. He is the one person in the household who never, ever wants to go along with the group, give in for the greater good, or give up whatever is on his list of things to do.

Oh, and he refuses to wear underwear.*

The kid’s a contrarian. I’m down with this whole new-parenting-age-psychobabble-research-whatever so I’ve checked out some sites on middle child syndrome and I’m sure it’s a real thing. I know it’s a real thing, it has devil horns on it, and it’s living in my house.

Scientific contrarianism is frequently referred to, favorably, as skepticism and, pejoratively as denialism.

Somebody help me, please. Is there a special way to work magic with contrarian/middle/crazy-ass kids? ‘Cause whatever I’m doin’ ain’t workin’.

*I’m pretty sure this isn’t an evil characteristic but rather a strange custom.


  1. Actually I have a son that fits this story in almost every way. I tried doctors, analysts, books, church, family. Then I seen another book and for some reason the title caught my eye. The name of the book is "Have a new kid by Friday". This book is hard to read because the child isn't actually the problem it is us that enables this behavior. I did not want to hear what I did wrong, I just knew I was feeling guilty when I would get really upset with his behavior because I knew inside I was an enabler. This book doesn't lecture us about what we are doing wrong, it describes the 3 types of parents, and how the children from each type works their child magic (I think of it more as witchcraft). It just tells us what to do about it. I couldn't wait 5 days to read this book, I read it in 2.
    It actually works, my son still has some episodes. They are rare now and not as angry or demanding when they do occur. It is not easy the first week, but you follow it for a week & you will be as happy as I am now about with the results.

    • thanks, Judy, I will absolutely read it! We have seen some improvements with discipline, but MAN I truly can say he is the most persistent kid ever. For example, he kicked and screamed about going to Disney on Ice tonight. (Seriously, what kid would not want to go?!) I calmly told him we were going, and that was that.

      Afterwards when I asked him what is favorite part was he said: “everything.” :-)

  2. I have three children (two boys first then a girl). My middle son is actually the most laid back and free spirited. He rarely ever complains and always just goes with the flow of whatever our family is doing and always wears a smile. Now my oldest….well he sounds alot like your middle son. He is almost always complaining about something (especially if it’s not what HE wants to do). He can also be very selfish and bull headed and tends to be more affectionate when he wants something. Nonetheless, I of course love them all, nerving quirks and all. I always thought maybe it was the first child “thing” but I honestly think it’s just their personality and the make up who they are. I’m sure they’re grow out of it (or we can hope they do) ;)

    • yes! let’s pray for growing out of this! Thanks for sharing. . .I guess all these little ones have their quirks, just like us big people do :-) Thanks for reading.

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