Children and Power

You might not hear little kids say they want to be "powerful" when they grow up. But they sure as hell want power now.

Tyler Cowen passes along this observation from a rather old Cracked piece:

You never hear little kids say they want to be “powerful” when they grow up. Parents don’t encourage that sort of thing, since it’s kind of terrifying coming from a toddler.

You don’t hear kids say things like this because that’s not how kids talk.  They tend not to be into long range planning as toddlers, for one thing.

But my 22-month-old daughter’s will to power is constantly in evidence.   Her favorite word remains, “Mine.”  And she’s not at all shy about crying the instant she’s being deterred from doing whatever it is she wants to be doing at any given instant.

While Katie is more strong-willed than most of her peers — for which I’m on balance quite thankful — she’s not at all atypical in wanting to get her way.

I’m quite convinced that, contrary to the implication in the quotation above that a desire for power is a learned behavior, it’s innate in the human condition.  It’s compromise and deferring to the will of others that has to be conditioned.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    My daughter is 33, she thought she was the power at age 5, nothing has changed. Her son’s favorite word btw is s’mine.




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  2. PD Shaw says:

    Oh, James. That’s what befalls a child when she bites the nose of a U.S. Senator. I’d hoped you’d given her shots after the Al Franken incident.




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  3. PD Shaw says:
  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    PD Shaw says:
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 16:47
    ” I’d hoped you’d given her shots after the Al Franken incident.”

    Why oh why are these Republican zealots so utterly humorless?




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  5. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    My nine-year-old is having a difficult time determining just what kind of super hero he wants to be when he grows up so he can “beat up all the bad guys”.

    A real chip off the old block he is.




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  6. tom p says:

    “I’d hoped you’d given her shots after the Al Franken incident.”

    PD, thank God it was Franken. Imagine how delusional her assertions of power would be if she had bit the nose of DeMint or Boehner, or Pelosi?




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  7. Boyd says:

    It’s compromise and deferring to the will of others that has to be conditioned.

    Anyone who’s spent much time around young children who doesn’t understand this is profoundly unobservant.




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  8. PD Shaw says:

    tom p, children that bite Republican politicians merely turn into newts, munchkins, and witches, the mere appearance of power, but really just magic.




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