Rule Breaker or Rule Follower




Thinking about whether you are a rule breaker or rule follower, I instinctively
think I’m more of a rule follower than a rule breaker. I’m averse to getting
into ‘trouble’ and certainly followed most of the rules when I was growing up.
Although as I’ve gotten older, what became clear was that even more
important than following rules, was for me to understand why the rule was
there in the first place,who made the rule, (how long ago?!), how it was
helpful it is the certain individuals versus others, whether it was helpful in my
personal situation and what would the consequences be if I didn’t adhere to
the rule and whether the rule in fact was outdated and needed to be
So when all those questions were answered, my actions could change from
rule follower to rule breaker quite easily.
More and more in my work in the area of autism the concept of breaking
rules or expectations arises.
It comes up when a child’s behaviour gets notices developmentally for not
following the expected developmental pathway, it gets noticed when social
rules are not being followed with friends and peers (such as in conversations,
games etc). Conversely we can also break rules, if we try and follow them
too literally! -as this then breaks more social rules!-how confusing!
So for me, rules are helpful when we are trying to create cohesiveness and
group and safety. They are not so helpful if they have no flexibility for
individual needs and variation, or when the purpose does not serve everyone
For me it’s finding the balance between following some rules, because it’s
good for me and for others, but also breaking some rules that are more
harmful than helpful, or actively seeing how we can re-write the rules to
make the more relevant and helpful.

What kind of rules do you like to break and which ones do you think we need
to break more often?


Published by Kate French

Clinical Psychologist; expertise in autism and child and family psychology.

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