I want you to know that I have totally given up on the good kid/bad kid label and I did it some time ago. I become most aware of it when a parent or a teacher is talking about a student who may be struggling with something and they qualify it by saying the student is a “good kid.” My response is usually that I don’t believe there are good kids or bad kids. I basically can’t track that and don’t see it that way. They’re just kids.
I really think it comes out of fear of being judged. A parent or teacher is asking for help with a student and describing what is going on which is usually something that our society deems negative and then the person says, “Oh, but he’s a good kid!” I think they are afraid that I won’t want to help a “bad” kid. But those don’t exist to me. We may well have a kid who is engaged in behaviors that are to their detriment or hurting others as well, but again they are just kids. And they need some kind of help or intervention.
I try to explain to people that we also have kids who are struggling with things and are choosing to engage in what we would see as positive behaviors that are also to their detriment. By that I mean kids who are doing positive or “good” things compulsively like exercising, dieting, organizing, obsessing over being perfect. Anything out of balance is cause for concern. We have kids who are struggling who are failing their classes and kids who are struggling who are making straight A’s.
They’re all kids and they are on their way to wherever they are going. Or maybe they’re just not mature yet and they are learning. You never know when that maturity thing is going to kick in and in just a few years they may look just like their peer who got it sooner. There are lots of people with college degrees who didn’t have the amazing GPA in high school and there are lots of happy people with great lives and careers who didn’t appear to be on that track at 15 or 16. I just want to encourage all of us to look for what is special and unique in the kids around us. They all have gifts.