Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 2 of 2)

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My last post was about recognizing certain behavior that leads to having a spoiled child – a brat. In this post I’d like to share how you can transition away from these behaviors to lead to a well behaved, content child.

Is your child refusing to accept your answer when you say no to him? Is there kicking and screaming, so to speak? Maybe there really is kicking and screaming? Have you had enough? Then let me ask you one last question… who is more stubborn?

I ask this because you are caught in a battle of wills, my friend. Will he continue to make a fuss and eventually get his way (which will make him more stubborn next time)? Or will you continue to stand your ground and show him that when you say something, you mean it. This has to be one of the hardest things for a parent of little people. At least, in this season, it is for me.

There will be a few rough days ahead, maybe even weeks. But stick to your guns, it’ll be worth it in the end. The first step after realizing you have given in one too many times is to understand that this ornery attitude is unacceptable. If you don’t address this now there will only be more headache and frustration to come. This battle you are facing with your child can lead to disrespect. Maybe he’ll be so angry with you that yelling, door slamming, hitting, or kicking will result. Gratitude will start to wither away. You tell him he can have “one more” but it isn’t enough. Sooner or later he’ll be inconsolable and uncontrollable. And that just won’t do.

The next step is to make the decision that when you say something you have to follow through with what you say. How many times do you find yourself telling your 5 year old “okay, one more episode and then it’s time to do something else” and two (or three or four) episodes later they are still watching? Or you tell your two year old “no, you can’t have a snack this close to dinner” but after a few moments of tears he’s eating those grapes he wanted. Your child is learning that they don’t really have to listen to what you say. They don’t believe your words and your credibility is gone. Remember that you are the parent. If you said no it’s probably for a good reason.

Finally, don’t give up. You will be tested. You will feel overwhelmed, perhaps defeated. Here are some ways to persevere through these trials. Change the subject. Sometimes all it takes is diverting your child’s attention away from what’s going on. Telling a joke, a funny story, or even a tickle can help to lighten the situation. Ask for help with something. “You know what Elle, Mommy needs some help in the kitchen. Let’s go put away the dishes, you can put the silverware in the drawer for me.” A time out or some quiet time alone to think about how they are acting. They have to know that their behavior is not okay, and that they can choose to act better.

We were at the grocery store and my pet peeve is any kind of riding or hanging on to the cart. The rule is you walk beside the cart. Well, we were almost finished and Elle insists that she’s tired and her feet hurt. Little Miss Dramatic here. She wants to hang off the side and put her feet on the bottom so that she doesn’t have to walk. “Sorry, honey, but you need to walk.” I stopped and waited for her to follow directions. Yes, I was pressed for time. But at the moment it was too important for me to miss the opportunity to ensure that my daughter is listening and obeying her mother. It was a battle of wills. I kept my cool and I stayed firm. Only 5 minutes later we were both walking to complete our shopping trip. Success!

You have to resolve to change this bratty attitude. Know that it’s not acceptable, follow through with what you say, and don’t give up. As your child learns that he isn’t the boss he will learn that he can count on your word. He will accept your answer and move on. And just because you don’t give in to his every whim does not make you love him any less. In fact, exhibiting consistency and discipline will show him that your love for him is because you want to see him do well.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

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