6 ways in which you are turning your child into a brat

Is your child acting like a monster? You may unwittingly be enabling junior’s bad behaviour. Find out how.

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Discipline is one of parenthoods’ grey areas that give many mums and dads plenty of stress and anxiety.

How do you ensure your child grows up knowing right from wrong? How stern should you be? Should you spank the child? Do you play good cop or bad cop? How many chances – or choices – should I give my child?

Raising a child in today’s word has become increasingly complicated, especially since parents are constantly under scrutiny, whether in public, or on social media.

Dr Foo Koon Hean, psychotherapist and author of Negotiation Parenting: Or how not to raise a brat in today’s complex world, writes that many parents these days devote themselves to their children and hope that their children will return the favour when they are older and need their support.

“My research shows that few children return the favour,” he adds.

He also notes that because of this method of parenting ― which he calls “filial parenting”, kids turn out “self-centred, disrespectful, impatient, have unrealistic expectations, need instant gratification, and hold a sense of entitlement ― these are the qualities of a brat!”

“It’s completely natural for a kid to test the limits, but when it becomes patterns of behaviour, this crosses the line into brattiness, and it’s up to you to do more than just dismiss it as a tantrum or a phase.”

Dr Foo recommends that parents are the ones who need to make the informed decisions, and that “children’s input is not needed, until they are ready or capable of contributing cognitively and emotionally”.

So, how do you know whether your child is on his or her way to becoming a nightmare? Start by examining the way you parent. Here are six things you’ll need to stop doing to prevent your child from becoming a brat.

#1 Ignoring his tantrums

So, junior is at the supermarket, and while you’re waiting to pay at the checkout counter, he picks up a chocolate bar and asks you to buy it for him.

When you inevitably say “no”, he flies into a raging tantrum. Now, do you give in to him and buy the candy, ignore his tantrums, or take him aside to tell him off?

“I would probably ignore it, to teach him that throwing a tantrum is useless,” says Rachel Tay, mum to Kelvin, 3. “But I’m also realising that I need to do more, to teach him why throwing a tantrum is not the way to go.”

Indeed, many parents dismiss tantrums, or even make excuses when their kids act up ― saying that “they’re just tired”, or that “it’s just the Terrible Twos”. But pointing out what’s wrong with the behaviour is just as important.

“It’s completely natural for a kid to test the limits, but when it becomes patterns of behaviour, this crosses the line into brattiness, and it’s up to you to do more than just dismiss it as a tantrum or a phase,” says Elaine Rose Glickman, author of Your Kid’s a Brat and It’s All Your Fault.

#2 Giving in to his whining

So, junior wants to watch that YouTube video ― when you say no, he immediately goes into a litany of “But I want to...” and “Why not?”

He follows you around the house, continually pleading with you for the iPad, even though you’ve already said “no” a dozen times. Then, you realise that you need to prep dinner, and just to get him off your back, you hand him the gadget and tell him that “next time, cannot!”

“So, yeah, whining is working out quite well for your kid. And he’s certainly not going to change the behaviour just because it’s rude or bothersome or bratty,” Glickman writes.

Glickman adds that it’s completely harmless to deposit him in his room and let him know that you’re ready to listen to him when he uses his “nice” voice. “You will actually hurt your kid far more by engaging in him when he sulks and fusses ― by rewarding inappropriate behaviour and teaching him that being obnoxious gets him results,” she says.