Excuse me, ma’am, but is that your kid throwing all of the condoms off the shelves in the drugstore, ignoring you when you ask him to stop, kicking and screaming that he must have the blue and the red boxes and telling you he hates you when you calmly indicate it’s time to leave? That’s not your child? Must be mine. What a brat.
Every mom has her embarrassing days; some are just brattier than others. “I often wonder if my daughter is the most misbehaved kid in the world,” says Jennifer Gustafson, from Darien, CT, mother of Lyla, age 3. “She goes from the sweetest girl to Satan in seconds when she doesn’t get her way.”For example: “If she says, ‘Mommy, I’m going to jump off the roof,’ and I don’t let her, she’s going to kill someone and it’s usually me.”
Jennifer has been kicked, bit and scratched by her adorable yet, menacing toddler. Bratty? Maybe. Just being a 3-year-old? It’s that, too.
When Bratty Behavior is a Problem
Psychotherapist Robi Ludwig, Psy.D, Care.com’s parenting expert, and Nancy Samalin, author of “Loving Without Spoiling” both agree that we’re living in an age of child-centric homes. Whether both parents work and feel guilty for spending too much time at the office or they just can’t stand to see their children cry (or are too tired to deal with it) permissive parenting has created an entitled set of kids.
“Being too permissive usually involves our bribing and pleading and often giving in,” says Samalin. “It means saying ‘No’, but meaning ‘Probably not’ or ‘I’m not sure” — which may feel loving in the moment, but gives your child too much power.”
Here, Ludwig and Samalin weighed in on seven spoiled rotten behaviors and offer advice on how parents can take back control:
1. Constantly Throws Tantrums
You can expect preschool-aged children to have frequent temper tantrums — some just can’t be avoided and need to run their course — but when fits erupt any time you set limits, it’s a problem.
How to handle: First, don’t have a tantrum yourself! Be empathetic and let your son know that you recognize he’s angry, but that his behavior is not acceptable. Help him find the right words to express his feelings and don’t be afraid to take away a privilege or give a “time out” if you feel the situation calls for it.
2. Hits, Grabs, Acts Bossy and Everything Else that Embarrasses You
“It’s mine!” Why does it seem like kids know how to use that phrase before their own names? Toddlers and young kids have primitive impulses, like grabbing toys and hitting to express their feelings. They all do it, but when your daughter is the biggest offender in the playgroup, you worry she’ll get labeled a brat.
How to handle: Stave off the stigma by holding your child accountable for her behavior in an age-appropriate manner. If she freaks out whenever a playmate wants to try her remote control train, have her help you put it away before friends arrive. When a tiff breaks out over the blue pail at the sandbox, talk about sharing and ask kids to take turns. Remember not to yell and that it’s okay if your kid gets upset — she’ll forget about it in two minutes.
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