Every kid has their moment, even the most well-behaved ones. Sometimes kids can act defiantly, test their limits, and simply misbehave. But when a child takes things to another level where such behavior is constant and repetitive, you might just have a brat on your hands.
And while it’s never good to place blame, the reality is that children’s behavior, unless there’s an underlying medical or psychological issue, often stems from parenting. Kids emulate what you do, and the vibe you put out.
This isn’t cause to punish yourself and hang your head in shame for raising a selfish and rude child. Just like with Willy Wonka, sometimes these kids just need a lesson, and a change, in order to shift their bratty ways. And that starts with the parents.
If you think you might have a brat on your hands, here are ten things you might be doing that could be contributing to the problem.
10 Giving In To Their Demands
If you find it easier to simply say “yes” than to back down to your child’s demands, whether it’s to have a piece of cheese and some cake for dinner or for you to buy them that expensive toy, you are contributing to the issue. While you don’t want to bombard your child with a constant stream of “nos,” you also need to remember that you are the parent.
Reinforce that you are the boss. If they don’t like that and insist on cake for dinner, no problem. Let them go to bed hungry. A single night of hunger is not going to harm the child. And chances are that after storming off in anger (don’t follow them!), they’ll return in a few minutes and acquiesce to your demands once they realize that aren’t going to get away with it.
9 Buying Them Whatever They Want
One of the worst ways you can fuel a bratty child’s ways is to buy them whatever they want. Don’t give in, whether you have the financial means to do so or not. Make new toys, clothes, and other treats rewards for good behavior . No good behavior, no reward. Stand firm, even if it means siblings get new stuffed animals while they don’t.
Teach kids that things cost money and must be earned. Better yet, have them save up their own money to buy things they covet.
8 Letting Them Call The Shots
Again, kids are not the boss. Parents and other authority figures are. And they need to understand this, even if it requires a bit of tough love.
If they try to demand that you go to a certain ride at the amusement park, for example, when all of the other kids want to go to another one, don’t let them get their way. Make sure they understand compromise and that the world does not revolve around them.
Sometimes, taking a bratty child down a few pegs is just what they need to buck up and start acting appropriately.
7 Ignoring Them
Ignoring your kids never gets you anywhere. It just makes them speak louder and harder in order to be noticed. Ignoring your child might even lead them to resort to extreme bratty behavior so they can get your attention. Any attention in their eyes, after all, is good attention.
Rather than pretend you don’t hear them, let them speak, then respond calmly, without giving in. This will be far more effective than ignoring their needs, and trying to pretend the brattiness isn’t there.
6 Giving Them Too Much Screen Time
Giving in to screen time might seem like a good way to appease your kid and squash the brattiness. But it’s a self-fulfilling cycle: the more you give, the more they’ll want. And if they believe that being bratty will eventually lead you to give in to the screen time, of course they’re going to continue to do it.
Screen time is a a privilege, not a right, and needs to be earned through good behavior, good grades in school, doing their homework, and so on. And while it might provide some relief so you can get an urgent phone call done for work, or get a break from constant whining, too much screen time isn’t good for kids in the long run, especially bratty ones.
5 Giving Them Too Many Sweets
Sugar is the enemy, and loading kids up with too much of it can impact their behavior. Some kids don’t process sugar as well as others, and it could be contributing to the way they behave. If your child has a sweet tooth and loves to indulge, consider cutting back on how much you allow them to eat.
A small piece of dark chocolate in their lunch or as a treat after dinner every night is fine followed by cake on the weekends or ice cream treats. But a big packaged cake in their lunch every day followed by “snacks” of sugary sweets is not good. Try and limit that and see if it makes a difference in your child’s behavior.
4 Rewarding Them Even After Being Bad
Don’t reward kids after they’ve been acting badly. While you might not want to punish them, rewarding them is even worse. Be tough and curb the rewards, whether it’s a day out, screen time, or a special toy, unless the child is exhibiting good behavior.
It might be hard to accomplish and could entice further bratty behavior if they child doesn’t get the reward they were expecting. But the child will eventually learn that rewards must be earned. And exhibiting bratty behavior isn’t the way to get them.
3 Not Following Through With Punishments
Kids pick up on inconsistencies between what you say and what you do. So if you say you’re not taking your child to the movies this weekend because they were behaving badly, then Saturday rolls around and you head over to the theatre, the child will realize that you don’t follow through.
As tough as it is to stick to your guns, doing so will hopefully encourage the child to change their ways if they want to eliminate punishments, be able to have enjoyable experiences, and, for older kids, not miss out on the fun stuff with their friends.
2 Talk Rudely to Them or Others in Front of Them
Kids are like sponges, and even when you think they aren’t watching or paying attention, they are. If you speak rudely to them, to your significant other, or others, they will interpret this as being appropriate behavior for them, too. Look long and hard – is the way your child is acting reflective of how you act towards them or others?
If you stop and find yourself speaking rudely or inconsiderately, consider a different approach. It’s best to lead by example, and kids deserve to be treated with respect just as adults do.
1 Throwing Your Own Tantrums
It’s easy to respond to a child’s tantrum with a tantrum of your own. But this will only encourage them to amp it up and win the fight. Try to keep your cool and respond calmly, showing your child that situations can be dealt with in such a manner.
Even when the situation doesn’t involve your child – maybe you’re upset at a driver on the road or your significant other for not putting their dishes away (again!) In every case, approach the situation the way you’d want your child to. We all lose our cool now and then. If you do, simply apologize and let them know your behavior was bad.