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



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)