9 ways parents encourage bratty behaviour in kids

If junior is always throwing tantrums and being rude, are you guilty of parenting no-nos that make them behave badly?

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One of its most challenging aspects of raising children for any parent is managing their behaviour and ensuring that they are well-disciplined.

And when our children behave badly, we may blame it on the child’s difficult personality, external circumstances (they had a bad day at school), or simply the fact, that junior is too young to tell right from wrong.

But if your child is constantly behaving like a brat, it might be time to examine your own actions.

As difficult as it is to acknowledge that what you do might be fuelling junior’s misbehaviour, it’s important to address the issue if you want to raise a well-mannered child.

“Parents need to understand how everything they do influences their children’s development, behaviour and actions,” explains Silvia Wetherell, psychotherapist at

The Choolani Clinic and a mother of two. “You can explain why they shouldn’t act in a certain way, but that’s not going to stick. You need to show them.”

But before you show them the right way to behave, start by identifying your own negative actions. Here are ways you may be inadvertently raising a brat.

1. Setting a bad example

Yes, it’s possible to be a bad role model without realising it. As the saying goes ― monkey see, monkey do.

“A classic example is how parents snatch their kids’ toys when playtime is over, thus teaching them how to snatch and be possessive,” Wetherell points out. “If you want your children to share, snatching is not a great way to go about it.”

“Consistency across all caregivers is the key to successful parenting. An inconsistent approach will only make children confused about rules and expectations.”

Another area where parents potentially set bad examples is phone usage, Wetherell stresses. Constantly bemoaning the fact that your kid is disengaged and addicted to his device? Take a look at your own phone habits, and you might understand why.

“We need to teach kids boundaries around technology usage, but that can’t happen if you’re always glued to your phone,” Wetherell says. “Limit your screen time if you want to raise an attentive child.”

2. Being inconsistent

“Consistency across all caregivers is the key to successful parenting,” notes Vyda S Chai, a clinical psychologist at Think Psychological Services. “An inconsistent approach will only make children confused about rules and expectations.”

Consistency ensures junior learns the right way to behave, no matter the environment.

You may expect your child to behave well in public, but if you let him throw tantrums at home, this will certainly be giving him mixed signals.

“If different adults are using conflicting approaches, this further confuses children and makes it hard to control challenging behaviours,” Chai adds. “Start early and discuss with all your child’s caregivers the appropriate disciplinary methods.”  

3. Making empty threats

Ever threatened junior with punishment and not followed up afterward? Time to stick to your word!

“Empty threats only encourage your child not to take you seriously, eventually ignoring you,” notes Chai. “Without consequences for misbehaviour, there’s no incentive to listen or behave.”

If you want to prevent your little ones from walking all over you, be sure to spell out exactly how they’ll be disciplined and follow your terms to the letter.  

Told them you’ll be removing TV privileges for a week? Be firm and don’t let them get away with turning it on after two days. Said you’ll confiscate their toys if they don’t apologise for hitting their sibling? Follow through no matter how sulky or sad they get.