What Is A Wild Child?

The term ‘wild child’ is thrown around throughout pop culture (the 2000s Emma Roberts film probably springs to mind), and might summon mental connotations of uncontrollable teens, who are throwing parties, and rebelling constantly. But, these stereotypes might non necessarily be true.

In fact, what is a wild child? And can it mean something diff Instead, a wild child is just a kid who doesn’t fit into the rigidity of societal belief over what a child should be.

What Is A Wild Child

They are active, intelligent, curious and eager to learn about the world so that they can gain their own independence. Under the right kind of parent, they can become driven, focused, successful adults, who are high-fliers in any career or field that takes their fancy. 

Learn all bout what a wild child is, the best ways to deal with having a wild child, and read about the origins of the term – the feral children of European history.

What Is A Wild Child? 

It can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between normal kid and teen behavior, and behavior that veers into the ‘wild child’ territory, and it doesn’t help that there is no psychologically outlined definition of the term ‘wild child’. 

Generally, however, a wild child is  considered to be a child who falls into the ‘wild and spirited’ personality category, and tend to be very strong-willed when they’re young.

Often, this type of child will need a different type of parenting from other kinds of kids (who have personalities that can be more categorized as ‘happy and easygoing’, or ‘shy and thoughtful’).

They are self-motivated, and have a strong sense of inner direction, meaning that they go after what they want (whether that be an ice cream or a toy when they’re young, or a high-flying career or accolade when they are older). 

When parented in the wrong kind of way, they can be rebellious and destructive, particularly in their teenage years. However, on the flip side, they can be incredibly rewarding to parent when it is done right, and will become terrific teens and young adults.

Many people who were considered to be a ‘wild child’ in their youth have gone on to become leaders and visionaries across all kinds of fields and industries. 

How To Tell If My Child Is A Wild Child

Wild children are often called ‘difficult’ or ‘stubborn’ when they are younger, particularly when they are misunderstood, when in reality, they are just strong-willed and cannot easily be swayed from their own viewpoints. 

They will have a drive to learn things for themselves, rather than just accepting what they are told, and want to experiment with their environment whilst being ‘in charge’ of themselves.

This can lead to more scrapes, bumps, accidents and spills – think the usually injuries and mishaps associated with childhood, turned up to max. They very often referred to as a wild child. But what is a wild child? 

They tend to seem quite active, or even hyperactive, which can seem like a lot to handle, especially if you are inexperienced. You might get teachers telling you that your child fidgets in class, and is hard to get to sit still. They also probably enjoy sports, and they can get very competitive when it comes to physical activity. 

They also have big emotions, and might have the tendency to ‘throw tantrums’ or have ‘meltdowns’, when they are feeling things very strongly. In partnership with their need for independence, this can sometimes create power struggles with their parents or guardians. 

I Think I Have A Wild Child – What Do I Do Now? 

What Is A Wild Child?

The main thing that you need to do if you are experiencing and parenting a wild child for the first time is abandon a lot of the principles that you may have built your pre-exisitng parenting style on. 

Rather than trying to stop them exploring, experimenting and learning about their world, for fear of their safety, you just have to try to minimize damage, whilst still setting a few firm boundaries. Wild children are always going to want to find out more, and forbidding their exploration can make it seem more appealing to them.

Try to explore with them together, or teach them in a practical way, rather than just by telling them. 

Avoid power struggles and arguments with your wild child through simple rules and routines, no matter how stubborn they seem to be being – they aren’t just being difficult for the sake of it, but rather tend to feel as though their integrity has been compromised when they are forced to bend to the opinion of another person.

Don’t try to break their strong will – but rather work around it, and learn to build a cooperative partnership with your wild child, rather than working against them to change them. 

Overall, just appreciate the gift that is having a wild child – oftentimes, they have a completely unique viewpoint on life, and can teach you a lot with their novel way of looking at things. There is never a dull moment with a wild child in the house – life is always full of excitement and surprises.

Let your child grow and learn – generally, a wild child wants mastery and independence the most, which can be the origin of friction with parents, who feel like they should be in charge. 

What Is A Feral Child? 

When you hear the phrase ‘wild child’ – there are a few things that tend to spring to mind. The 2000 film with Emma Roberts, children from your primary school classes, and a few cases of truly wild and feral children who learned how to raise themselves. 

Though our modern definition of a ‘wild child’ is pretty far from the feral children of yore, they are not totally separate. A feral child seems to be the total extreme of a wild child. 

Feral children, sometimes called wild children, are children that, either by accident or on purpose, have been isolated, and therefore have grown up with very minimal human contact.

There are often seem to have a mixture of human and animal behavioral characteristics, which has led to the common narrative of animals rearing feral children in myth and legend. 

Through our modern lens, the scientific study of feral children has provided a view into fundamental human traits and behaviors, like the use of language.

During the 20th century, psychologists were trying to find the distinction between behavior and biological nature, so children who had survived in isolation and among animals for their whole lives provided a key part of that puzzle. 

A Few Examples Of Historical Feral Children 

There are a few accounts of feral or wild children that appear in European history, from around 1600. We’ll guide you briefly though a few of their stories, so you can understand the true origin of the phrase ‘wild child’. 

  • In 1644, John of Liege writes the story of a boy who got lost in the woods, and subsequently took on animalistic behaviors. So that he could survive on his own. He began running on all fours, foraging and hunting, and developed excellent hearing, when brought back from the wild, he carried on these behaviors, and never developed any kind of language skills. 
  • Peter the Wild Boy (found in Hanover)  became a fascination of upper classes when he was found in 1725 and studied by the physician John Arbutholt. Again, his existence helped scientists decide the boundaries between humans and animals, and led to the creating of the Homo ferens category of human species. 
  • In 1800, Victor of Aveyron was caught, in the forests of France. He was subsequently studied by prominent physicians, such as Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, and became one of the most well known feral children in all of history. 

Final Thoughts 

You might have a wild child, who is strong-willed, and knows what they want – and although they can seem like more work than children who are quieter, reserved, or easy going, they can truly be a blessing when you learn how to parent them in the right way. Set boundaries and rules, whilst still letting them explore and grow. 

Your wild child is independent, curious and active, and under the right tutelage, they will excel in any field that thy put their mind to. 

Joyce Bailey
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