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)

Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 1of 2)

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My kids are great. I love them dearly. They are good at keeping busy playing. They mostly get along with one another. They listen – most of the time. They’re kids – they do what kids do. But, there are times when I feel so worn down by them. I feel defeated. I just want to give up, go in the other room and let them wreak havoc. But I know I can’t do that.

I have to teach these little ones that it isn’t always about them. And that just because they ask or they want something doesn’t mean they can have it. It was when Finn (the 2 year old) cried – tantrum style – after being offered the normal breakfast choice of cereal or eggs that I noticed this behavior has been happening all too often and that this was not acceptable. It was also hubby who pointed out this disagreeable disposition Finn was displaying.

So how do you recognize when your child is being ill-mannered and obnoxious? There is a difference between the occasional discord and the constant campaign to rule. I am talking about the latter. There are times when children won’t like your answer or when they just need to complain and wine, probably because they don’t know how else to express themselves. But, there are times when children refuse to accept your answer and when they complain and wine about everything.

There are two things to look at first. One is your child’s response to a want or desire that you just turned down. Second is your response to your child after his want or desire was rejected. Let’s say your little guy just asked to play with the play doh or get out the paints. You explain that lunch time is coming up and that we can’t get out those things because it’s time to eat soon. You even offer something else to do instead that isn’t so messy or involved. He is not happy. He asks again and he even resorts to crying (which can be appropriate for a little tot but not much older). Now here is the tricky part – your response. Do you tell him no again and remove him from the area to redirect his attention elsewhere? Maybe you tell him no again and walk away, allowing him to figure out how to deal with the situation. Perhaps you said no and then decided that it’s not that much of a mess and proceed to help him do the activity. If the last one was your response then you could be shaping him right into being a brat. Don’t worry though, we all respond that way at some time or another. But we do have to be careful that it is not the normal reaction. Here are some other indications to help you recognize that things need to change.

  • You are saying yes to a request because you don’t want to hear any complaining.
  • You are constantly getting push back. Your child never seems to be happy with your answers or requests.
  • You find yourself changing your mind. After you have said no you start to justify why you can say yes instead.
  • Your child cries, stomps, yells when you say no.
  • You child demands your attention in negative ways.
  • Your child has become ungrateful.
  • Your child has become “uncontrollable.”

It is important to stand your ground. If you tell him no then he needs to be able to accept that. You are the parent and you gave your answer.

“You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” -from Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann

When you change your mind all of the time or appease your child because you just don’t want to hear it then you are doing a disservice to him. He will learn that he can have whatever he wants and when he doesn’t get it he won’t know how to appropriately react.

Check back soon for: Recognizing that your Child is a Brat (part 2 of 2)