The micro-rebellious child


In my next post, I will discuss parenting the heart through values-based teaching. In this one, I discuss identifying heart issues as they relate to micro-rebellion.

Micro-rebellion is a term coined by the Ezzos that describes seemingly minor disobedience that is disobedience nonetheless. Micro = small or minor. Macro = big or major.

The thing about micro-rebellion is that while the action or misbehavior might seem minor, the concern with the child’s heart is anything but. In fact, parenting a micro-rebellious child can be difficult because the child’s disobedience isn’t always obvious.

Think about it this way. Macro-rebellion is easy to spot. Say you tell your child to be careful with his plastic baseball bat, and he proceeds to whack his baby sister in the head with it. That is macro-rebellion.

Micro-rebellion isn’t so easy to spot. Say you tell your child to stay off the tile floor because you just mopped it. The child proceeds to put only his toes on the tile floor. He doesn’t run across the floor or even step onto it with one foot. Only his toes cross the threshold.

I wish there were better words to describe micro-rebellious behavior, but sneaky and manipulative come to mind.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that identifying micro-rebellion is a heart issue. If a parent dismisses such behaviors as nothing but minor infractions, the child learns that he can disobey as long as it’s minor disobedience. The child learns that he can disobey as long as he’s sneaky and manipulative about it.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a child who is blatant with his disobedience! So be on the lookout for micro-rebellion, and treat every form of disobedience (big or small) as disobedience.


  1. This is interesting! Lately I’ve noticed my daughter having these types of micro-disobediences and we’ve been struggling with how to deal with them. It’s like she’s testing the water to see how much she can get away with since she’s always been very obedient (she’s almost 3 1/2 now). Which -wise book discusses this?

  2. Glad it helps. Yes, be on the lookout for those little disobediences. You know, I’m not sure which book it’s in. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn about it until I read Childwise or GKGW (basically the same), but then I couldn’t find it in my GKGW book when I looked. I looked just now and it’s not in Preschoolwise either. If there’s one gripe I have about these books it’s that their indexes aren’t complete enough. Nonetheless, if you don’t have GKGW, now would be a good time to get it. I highly recommend it and usually prefer it over Childwise.

  3. I wonder if you can include tiny disobedience in this that are not more sneaky but are things that parents often skip over bc they think oh, no big deal. Anyway, great post. My four year old could teach a lesson on this-he’s been at it, in the sneaky way, since he was 9 months old! It’s not a huge issue now, but bot have we struggled with it in the past nd occasionally now.

  4. True, but you have to really think about whether it’s being sneaky or not. Because sometimes it might not look like a sneaky thing but it actually is. There’s one example I remember, I think it was from Raising Godly Tomatoes. The example is a parent telling a child to put a book on a bookshelf and the child sets it down right next to the bookshelf. The parent made it clear that she considered it disobedience and that the child knew it was disobedient. Sometimes the kids have a sneaky look on their faces and other times not. It probably all comes down to a heart issue, determining what is actually in the child’s heart when they do such a thing. So tough!

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