Permissive Parenting: 7 Signs Your Kid is a Brat

upset little girl

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."  Ludwig and Samalin weighed in on 7 spoiled rotten behaviors and offered 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 child 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 kid 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 your son freaks out whenever a play mate wants to try his remote control digger, have him 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 -- he'll forget about it in two minutes.

  3. Whines from the Moment He Wakes Up
    Forget wailing police sirens, jackhammers and chalk on a blackboard: the sound of your child whining is the most irritating noise in the world.  Waiting in line at the bank or being dragged shoe shopping is boring for kids and you can't blame them for getting whinny.  But most often that squeaky, drawn-out bleat means your child is trying to turn your "No" into a "Yes."  Cookies for breakfast?  No way!  Just five more minutes on the iPad?  It's been an hour!  And if "No" is truly how you feel, you need to stand your ground no matter how much you want your child to just be quiet already.

    How to handle: Children learn really quickly how far they have to go to manipulate Mom and Dad.  Inform your child: "I don't like when you speak like this and I can't understand you."  Tell her you won't respond until she uses her regular voice.  Remember, an unhappy child is not an unloved child.  In the short term it's not pleasant (for you mostly) but kids need to learn they can't always get what they want.  Try to ward off whining with some preventive parental medicine.  If you know your daughter will whine for ice cream each time you leave the playground and pass the Good Humor truck, take a different exit or cue up Angry Birds on your phone and distract her.

  4. Acts Defiant and Always Negotiates
    A kid can say "No!" -- and they will in the most snotty tone --  but that doesn't mean you have to obey or accept that answer.  The bratty child has a real intolerance to not getting her way.  She doesn't follow your rules and ignores when you say "No "or "Stop."  This usually leads parents to come up with a pay off.  When your daughter is accepting more bribes than a corrupt politician, you're cultivating a top-notch manipulator.

    How to handle: Stop sweetening the deal and you'll cut down on the defiance.  Instead, offer them rewards when they've exhibited good behavior.  The best prize?  Sharing special time with you.

  5. Complains Of Being Bored
    Moms would give anything to feel bored.  Ah, the luxury of having nothing to do except sit and stare into your really messy family room.  But the child who always complains he's bored is probably the one who can never be gratified.  He gets one toy and immediately moves on to the next item he HAS to have.

    How to handle: Help teach your child the difference between what he wants and what he needs.  They probably won't really get it until early elementary school but you can start the process early.  The next time your son insists he wants a new toy, let him make the choice.  Seriously.  Choose two goodies at the store you would be happy to buy him and ask him to select.  He'll feel empowered and proud of his decision.

  6. Talks Rudely to Adults and Is Mean to Peers
    Grandma is probably sneaking your kids candy on the sly so they have little reason to tell her off.  But when her hugs and kisses start to feel smothering the kids might be tempted to tell granny to go away.  A child that speaks or behaves rudely to an adult -- especially a relative -- needs to be corrected.

    How to handle: Tell your son he hurt grandma's feelings and he is not to speak that way or treat people that way.  You can never excuse bad behavior because it just shows you're going along with it.

  7. Controls Your Life
    Raising kids is a full-time job but Mom and Dad deserve to be just a wife and husband sometimes.  Always putting your child first -- above yourself and your marriage -- sends a message to your kid that the world revolves around him.

    How to handle: Book that weekend at the spa.  Have dinner with your spouse.  Whether you get Grandma to come for the night or hire a babysitter, you need to plan a date night.  It's heartbreaking to have your daughter sob and ask you stay when you have one foot out the door and 8 p.m. reservations, but parents are allowed to have play dates, too.

Like this? Get more. Sign up for the latest articles, news and tips of your choice. All delivered weekly to your inbox.
Enter your email address:
Comments (58)
nina
Yes, # 3's advise is not going to help the child at all! By distracting a child it shows the parent really doesnt feel comfortable addressing the issue at hand. The first time this happens I would pass by the icecream truck multiple times and explain/show the child that that type of attitude doesnt work. Once the nonsense stopped if it was a first offense and if the child calms himself I would allow us to et icecream. Any time after we would pass the truck up and go home to put the child in his room for awhile.
Posted: March 21, 2014 at 2:21 PM
kyla
Be careful , those who are judging some parents. Sometimes kids are just brats. The parents can do everything right and practice all of the ideal "tricks" into getting your child to behave....and they still misbehave anyways. For those parents who use these techniques and have success , you are lucky, not better than other parents. No offense.
Posted: February 16, 2014 at 7:59 PM
donna
On topic 3 of whining, I found not responding does not help because it IS so hard to listen to. What I did instead (and super-effectively when done at toddler age) is say it is not allowed and you can do it (like crying) in your room. If you feel they are crying because they are tired or need you a bit, then you sit with them and hold them and when they are done you leave. If they are whining you can sit a little but say 'come out when you feel better' --I know each kid is different, but with twins and starting early, they don't whine --age 8 now--it is a lovely thing. It makes for a pleasant house that is more peaceful.
Posted: January 30, 2014 at 10:19 AM
Rebecca R.
The sad thing is, that it's not the child's fault if they've never been taught to behave appropriately, but it is surely the child who will pay the price for lack of parental discipline. Children need and want boundaries. To deny a child that guidance is, in my opinion, a form of child neglect.
Posted: January 15, 2014 at 8:57 PM
yourkidisabrat
I agree with icantsarndyourkid. My girlfriend's granddaughter is a brat and the brat's parents are no good either. I feel like placing the little three year old, big mouth in a corner when she talks back to me. My daughter has never done anything like that while growing up and she's nine years old and respects people. Parents, stop being permissive and stop thinking your child is entitled to something because they're not!
Posted: December 25, 2013 at 4:39 PM
Ican'rstandyourkid
I have a friend who is ridiculously permissive. The thing is, I watch her make this monster of a brat and I want to pinch her kid when no one is looking, I don't of course. But, I wonder if the parent will ever clue in that adults can't stand her child?
Posted: August 27, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Photo of Melissa V.
Melissa V.
Traci M.

May God Bless you for being a faithful servant. Your post have enhanced my love for God and mankind. Your daughter is bless to have you as her mother
Posted: March 15, 2013 at 9:51 PM
Photo of Melissa V.
Melissa V.
I raised three children and I taught all of them discipline , respect and the love of God. My two oldest are boys, college graduates and are successful. My daughter is the baby and currently attends college. My daughter father left out of her life at th age of three. I felt sorry for her because I felt like my father didn't love me. Well my ex-husband adopted her and now he have betrayed er too. I bought her eveything she wanted and had a hard time telling her no. She is very smart in her books but She spends money like she is rich and I have to always come to her rescue. My credit is bad due to my negligence in the way raised her. She text me on day and ask me why did have to spoil her. I should of used the terminology alot more. I only hurt my daugher by spoiling her but she is learning slowly bu surely.
Posted: March 15, 2013 at 9:43 PM
Photo of Christina S.
Christina S.
This was a very helpful article! I do not have any children of my own yet, but I am a nanny and have definitely experienced some children over the years who display these attitudes. The advice offered here was helpful.
Posted: December 11, 2012 at 6:22 PM
Photo of Susan H.
Susan H.
Great ideas! My kids are raised and are responsible adults. Glad I'm done raising them. Now I'm a nanny and love it!
Posted: July 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Anjanice H.
my son is 10 months he has a big temper at times when he cant get what he wants
Posted: June 26, 2012 at 10:32 AM
Photo of Jessica F.
Jessica F.
Hey guys i can relay on this with knowledge from younger times, i used to watch my little sister samantha, and my four cousins and they where a trip but i teached my sister how to be a big girl then a brat, my cousins on the other hand they where spoiled threw and threw. I had to teach them with a hard time to get there trust to be nice and except the good things god and your parents had given you and don't be a brat. the oldest I had to teach her with a big time out on the couch and was not to play or talk to her brothers till she was good but it took all day but the reason it started that way was because she tryed to be bossy to her bothers and to me, it was so out of control she was about to call the cops if she didn't get her way, that's when it told her to stay on the couch till you are good but she was so mad that she fell asleep from all the crying. later on like a few months later because they moved a lot she tryed to pull that way on her parents when they went to have mommy and daddy time i told her "Alie do you want to sit on the couch again like last time??" she was yelling "NO,NO,NO!!" "Then tell them you are sorry and don't do it ever again, they love you and they want you to grow up to be a awesome sister and also a loving person." she said sorry to them and give them a hug later that day her little brother try to get his way and i had to in force the time out in the bedroom cuz he woun't stay in the chair. he gave me run for a bit then start throwing toys at me, and i had to close the door and let his anger get I told him that he can come out when he claims down and 45 mins. later he was claim down i came to the room and said he can come out and he cryed saying "no, i'll stay here a little longer..." I was shocked and i said ok when you are ready you can come down 10 mins. later and he came down.Later that day their parents came home and they where shocked they where helping cleaning up the room and also cleaning the dishies and doing chores, she called me up and in suprise she wanted to know "How did you get my kids to be so well behaved and how did you get them to do there chores?" i told her "A little disaplined and they are doing there chores???" i was shocked myself but they learned a lesson and they still are being behaved little kids, and they know if Cousin Jessica is here watching them they behaved or time out is forced, but they know I love them and i try to do my best to keep them on the right path when i am there but they know that i don't play around bratish kids.
Posted: April 27, 2012 at 5:09 PM
Frank
Hurt your feelings and shouldn't talk like that? Oh yeah, that will work. Or you could do something that really works and put your foot up their ass right before sending them to time out.

Spare the rod (or foot) and spoil your child. Being a pansy just reinforces the idea that your kids can walk all over you. Good luck with that.
Posted: April 01, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Guest
After India and Tegan and Alyssa, Yaren and Alaia come in.
Mai feels hurt that Yaren and Alaia get more attention.
"I DON'T WANNA TAKE A NAP! LET GO OF ME YOU MOM!" Alaia exclaims.
"I WANNA SLEEP WITH YOU MAMA!" Yaren exclaims.
Alaia acts up, demanding that Yaren sleep with her. Can the nanny support this family with Alaia ruling the house with her fits and demanding?
Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Guest
If you know Mai will whine for ice cream when you pass Good Humor, DO NOT TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE. This is such an annoying suggestion. Distract eight-year-old Mai with Angry Birds.
Natasha is nine, Mai is eight, John is seven, India and Tegan are six, and Alyssa is four.
But imagine if Mai continues her complaining: "Mai, I want you to stay in the Cool-Down Room for 8 minutes when we go out for having a temper tantrum."
Posted: March 15, 2012 at 9:45 PM
Tracey M.
Thank you to all who gave up their precious time to respond!!! Your comments and insights have helped me!!! All Mothers need to know we aren't alone out there in the hardest battle of all - Being responsible for how we Mother our children and knowing that it will be 20-30 years before we actually see the "Fruit" of Our Labor of Love!!!

Remember who has the Ultimate Divine Control GOD, Our Heavenly FATHER, who is Faithful to answer our prayers for our children! HE created them, HE Loves them more than we ever can! HE knows what the state of their Hearts are, what they are thinking, what words and actions will manifest in their lives before they even have an inkling of what's to come!!! Only GOD can truly intervene - but only if we give HIM Ultimate Control of our kids - hook, line and sinker - No Meddling with the Creator's Work! We need to TRUST GOD No Matter What is going on in their lives! HE Promises to make Beauty out of Ashes and that HE will part the Seas of Adversity for us if we open our Hearts to HIM - Jump off the Dangerous "Self-in-Control" Merry-Go-Round and TRUST HIM to catch you and change your life for the Best Life you will ever experience!!! GOD made you and your children and (as my Mom always said: "HE Doesn't Make Junk!" HE has a Purpose and a well thought out Plan for your life unfortunately we get in the way and block HIM from being able to work HIS Plan!!! My prayer for all who read this is that you'll talk to JESUS and allow HIM to enter into your Heart! Only when we are vulnerable, willing and surrendered to HIM fully will HE come into our lives and start to do HIS Miraculous works!!! I know HE died for me and you; HE Loves us equally!

JESUS set me free from spiritual warfare/bondage and painful life circumstances, my sinful choices and behaviors, depression, an incurable disease, at age 40 I gave birth to my only daughter naturally and it was by Divine Appointment on my Birthday! JESUS wanted me to know HE had Forgiven me of my most horrendous past sinful choice! I never should have been able to have my Precious Daughter due to an abortion(from my 20's)messing up my whole insides. GOD is Sooo LOVING(more than we will Ever be able to Imagine!!!)Sooo filled with Forgiveness, Mercy and Grace, Sooo Slow to Anger and giving us a Gazillion Chances to Change and Come Home to HIM (just like the story of The Prodigal Son in the Bible)! GOD made us in HIS Image and to do what HE does! We do need to do our part which GOD knows We Can Do with HIS Help!!! HE picked us to be the Parents to our Children! We need to Model our Parenting after HIM and to Be Immitators of our Heavenly FATHER!!! We need to say "NO!!!" (not only to Drugs) but to everything in this world that is man-made that Does Not PLEASE GOD!!!

I have learned that the Power GOD gave me through the indwelling of The HOLY SPIRIT allows me to be the BEST Mom I can ever hope to be - it is GOD working through my surrendered sinful self and that is when My Daughter Sees GOD, Feels GOD, Knows GOD her FATHER!!! She is Edified and Knows in Her Heart that she is Valuable, Indispensible, Pleasing to GOD and Worthy of HIS Perfect Love and Blessings!!!

I have learned also to Speak GOD's Word, Promises and Laws for Living "into her" at all times - even while she is sleeping!(Also Scripture Verses about Obeying, Doing all Things out of Love, Having a Thankful Heart, Sharing what GOD has Blessed us with so that others less fortunate can feel Loved and Cared for and Be Set-Free also). I believe in my Heart that GOD allows some people to be born into poverty so that we who "Have" been Blessed can act CHRIST-like and share our Abundance with those less fortunate and experience in a "very small way" what it must feel like to be GOD; they in turn can also be impacted with GOD s Truth & Will for their lives. Acting out of Love, Giving our Best to another Child of GOD (HE Loves us all the same; No Matter What!) Helping others to get out of tough places and into GOD's Will for their lives is extremely gratifying and a Gift from GOD! How many of us would hug a homeless person, pray for them for GOD to move Mightily in their lives and get them out of worldly bondage, to share food, clothing, loving care, a place to sleep, meet their every need and treat them like we would like to be treated if we were in their shoes? Because GOD First Loved Me and Gave HIS Only SON, JESUS, up as a Sacrifice for all my sins(I could never repay this GIFT of LIFE); I wanted to do something to show my Immense Love, Gratitude and Thankful Heart to my FATHER so that I try to Love on others like HE Loves on me each and every day! I have prayed to have not one ounce of pride-fulness in this but to let it be an expression of my Great Love for my FATHER GOD!!! When I see a person experiencing hardship in life, whatever it may be, my heart tries to meet their needs in the NAME of JESUS(to be HIS Heart, Words, Hands and Feet)to do the "Right Thing!" I want my daughter to see CHRIST JESUS in action within my life so that hopefully she will pass on the LOVE of CHRIST to others so she can be filled with GOD's Increasing Love and Joy in Her Heart - it is the most Awesome feeling that I have ever had to know GOD Trusts me to help HIM touch others and change their destiny so HIS Love, Forgiveness and Perfect Will Rules in their lives! We are all to pass GOD s and JESUS's Gift of "Forgiveness and New Life" into the lives of all whom we meet! See the movie: "Pay it Forward". My Biggest Delight and the most Awesome thing in my life is to feel chosen and used by GOD to make a Difference in this world! Knowing HE is looking down on us and listening to our words of Truth and Love that we are sharing with someone who is in need - I know HE is so Proud of us, HIS kids, when we reflect HIM to the world and change people's lives for the better!!! Things like this are my "Legacy of Love" to my daughter for her to experience and be comfortable doing in her life! We can surely change the world when GOD is in Control of our lives!!! It's a "No Brainer"! Our lives should model LOVE and putting Others First before ourselves! Leading by Example is how to impact our children so they in turn can leave the same Legacy to their children and others whom they come into contact with over their lifespan! Show them how to build their lives like a house is built(strong foundations of GOD's Truths & Promises and Ways of Living layer by layer/life lessons by life lessons). They will grow up to embody GOD's Character and to be/feel like an Asset to the world around them as they Impact others with Acts of Love and Kindness and model "Doing the Right Thing!" for all to see. Another great movie is "The President's Dog" which teaches this Virtue.
Posted: February 27, 2012 at 7:10 AM
Photo of Annette M.
Annette M.
A good book on this topic is How to Have a New Kid by Friday (author: Kevin Leman).
Posted: February 12, 2012 at 8:53 PM
Photo of Robin P.
Robin P.
We treat our children with such love and tenderness when they are born and then time gose by and they grow into a child that is a master manipulater and will stop at nothing to get what they want. You the parent had better set things straight right off the bat and dont let your gard down till they move out. Hahaha, i had 5 kids and they are all out on their own (with kids of their own LOL) now and im happy to say I lived through it. "/ 1st thing is they dont have any rights till they get a job. They must do as you tell them till then, thats your right!! hahaha good luck.
Posted: December 21, 2011 at 7:40 PM
Happy Mom
Here are other causes for bratty behavior, and no matter what, some kids just dont get even if the parent are NOT enabling the behavior.

1)Lets face it, and the jails tell the story. no matter the consequence some people seem to feel entitled to hurt others. Ever notice how mean and manipulative girls are? and how physically bullying boys are? They KNOW the behavior is wrong. They just ENJOY acting like that. Some people ENJOY hurting others, and some children have conflict seeking behavior.

2) Issues with brain development. I am not talking about just meeting milestones and all that stuff. I've read that childrens brain are not fully developed until age 25. As parents we can help create the environment for the right pathways being built, but not always. Some kids are born with pathways that are really hard to deconstruct.

I am all for not enabling the behavior, but if you are doing all this stuff anyway, and the child STILL is not responding, its not your fault.

What also worked for me was telling my child my beleifs after repeating this irresponsible behavior. When my sons blamed the clock, for him being late, I said, "you are showing me that you cant handle going outside and coming home on time".. When you lower your expectations, kids HATE that, and they act better to prove you wrong. "you stay here in your room while we go out. You cant handle an evening out without throwing a tantrum".. That works too.
Posted: December 07, 2011 at 9:10 AM
Happy Mom
I really liked this article. Its pretty common sense stuff, but I liked it nonetheless, because it lets you know that you are doing all that you can, or are supposed to do. I think most people reading this, already know this stuff, but need more help.I have two children 10 years apart. When I had my first child, I did not have as much financial freedom as the second, so sometimes, I had to take the short term approach or else we would be homeless. (bosses dont really care about your child raising issues). My daughter born 10 years later, I had more time, like I could stop the car, leave the groceries at the store, etc. I was thinking about the future of her behavior when I did these things, but truth be told, my daughter was a lot more strong willed, and it took a lot more "training".

Thats the component that is missing from these articles. A lot of the times what you are up against is a childs natural personality and temperment and honestly, not all the training in the world is going to train them. I am not saying to NOT do these things suggested in the article, go ahead and do them, its the right thing to do, but if its not working time and time and time again, there is another force at work.

with my son, since he scored genious level, I always thought he was willful. Come to find out, when he became a teenager, symptoms of autism showed up that did not show up before. He still scored genious, but then there were other issues with his neuro symptoms that were impaired. He did not seem to learn by natural consequences, or cause effect of our punishments, (or rewards). After realizing his particular predicament, and how a lot of people with autism seem to think, (distorted thinking, all or nothing, blaming), that helped a lot. Supplements and changing his diet helped drastically. (mainly meatless diet, organic as much as possible).

So my main point is, maybe there are other forces at work if your child is acting like a brat. I for so long blamed myself, and did not know what to do! My son we ended up doing EEG and stuff like that. My daughter isnt showing any signs of autism, she is very smart, but very very willful. What helped with her is putting in a really rigorous competitive gymnastic program.

There are so many difference and variations with kids. Blaming everything on parenting is just not fair, or accurate.

Sometimes, your kid is brat, because they are brat by structure.
Posted: December 06, 2011 at 12:29 PM
Alysia B.
Seems to me the first thing to do is stop calling children names, like brats. I have absolutely no desire to read this article simply because of the name calling in the title. How about if you grow up before you expect your child to?
Posted: November 04, 2011 at 7:44 AM
Renae N.
These are great tips and I am printing them out however, my kids aren't yet verbal... tips?
Posted: November 03, 2011 at 12:47 PM
Photo of Alison D.
Alison D.
I recommend Joining Positive parenting network at Yohoo groups. great ideas for all these situations.
Posted: October 15, 2011 at 12:31 PM
Photo of Marlene W.
Marlene W.
The info is timeless! How sad that parents are not willing to accept the
responsibility for the most rewarding and important career of ALL. Creating
a Legecy,Training children to accept responsibility for their choices,and Make
TIME for the little ones who didn't ask to enter this messed up world anyhow.
I believe children are truely gifts to be treasured,trained and encouraged to
believe in their GOOD qualities,talents. It is very sad to observe parents who could use some basics in HOW TO be a mature,confident adult that can balance the passionate love and firm,honest,understanding guidelines quickly available to our future. Sincerely, A seasoned great grd.mama
Posted: October 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM
Photo of Rebecca M.
Rebecca M.
Using manipulative and authoritarian methods like Babywise and hitting your children may get the desired result in the short-term -- quiet, obedient children who are AFRAID of you -- but you will see the damage later when they become rebellious, sullen, and/or depressed teenagers who won't listen to you at all. You're not managing an inconvenience, you're raising a human being, and the relationship is SO important.

I think the number one mistake that parents make these days is not giving their children their TIME. Building a relationship takes time. Creating routines and structure takes time. Sitting in the sandbox with your child (as another commenter described) takes time. Two parents who work long hours and try to cram all of the parenting and family time into a few hours after school, along with activities, grocery shopping, meals, etc. -- it just doesn't work. Parents feel guilty and are pressed for time so they allow things they otherwise wouldn't. When the kids argue and protest and back the parents into a corner, the parents are so stressed and don't have time to think of a good solution so they just give in.

Children are not "born bad" (like Babywise teaches -- please do your research, that series is written by a minister who was kicked out of his own church for fraud and who then stripped out the scripture from his religion-based parenting books "Growing Kids God's Way" and turned them into a mainstream series after paying a pediatrician to endorse the books). Being self-centered and unreasonable is developmentally normal for a 1-3 year old. It's up to the parents to put in the time and create routines and structure that give children a sense of security and helps them learn about boundaries, empathy, charity, etc. And for those who advocate hitting your children, research shows that hitting kids only teaches them to hit. You can call it "swatting" or "spanking" but it's still HITTING A CHILD. If you want your children to respect you, respect them first. Children imitate what they see.
Posted: October 10, 2011 at 3:58 PM
Photo of Allison O.
Allison O.
Love this article! Okay parents! Get your soldier outfits on and begin the discipline. If you cant be the commander of your squad, then you need to ask yourself how much you love your children. Discipline IS love. And children will respect you more for showing them love....even if it doesn't LOOK like it to them, they can FEEL the love because of the boundaries you have set.
Posted: August 27, 2011 at 5:16 PM
Photo of Tracy S.
Tracy S.
I love the advise. My best friends son just turned 2 and he makes a loud scream when he doesn't get what he wants. I sometimes tell him no and I think that she doesn't like it, but she sometimes gives gives him what he wants. Her whole life revolves arouind him. Don't get me wrong I love him to death, but what do you say when there like look at him eat look at how he does this. What do I do?
Posted: August 21, 2011 at 8:45 AM
Photo of Angela C.
Angela C.
Helen, please get out of your situation and get yourself and children to a safe place. The developmental milestones will be reached once they feel secure. As a single mom who got out of an abusive environment and who has a bi-polar child, I know those looks and comments from people who think they know all; about you, your child and how it's done. Invite them to pray for you. Silently and from a distance. Good luck.
Posted: August 18, 2011 at 7:54 PM
Helen M.
@ Shannon P. You bring up a good point. The perception of brattiness may be due to other things. Your example or mine. Of a 4 yr old still not pottytrained girl. My 2 yr old hits and kicks when I show affection to her( sibling rivalry?) more to it. We are a house getting ready to break apart due to the nonviolent abuse. Verbal, emotional blackmail of my 15 yr old and me and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, my youngest two are manifesting what they don't know how to put into words. They are in counseling, play therapy and the move is soon, but they dont know time concept too well. So when I am asked after 45 min of screeching at the top of her lungs that she won't use the potty if I can get her to be quiet, I just look over at that stranger and just mouth, sorry can't hear you over her". She's just thinking I have a brat. But I know my daughter is just showing control over her environ. Ironically, the two weeks dad was gone on active duty, the second week, no accidents, but the very day he came back, accidents start back up.
Posted: August 06, 2011 at 5:42 PM
Photo of Britt B.
Britt B.
This is great advice for my 11 year old control freak daughter.
Posted: July 23, 2011 at 2:42 PM
Photo of Jennifer M.
Jennifer M.
First: Mary S. your comment is THE BEST. Second: I agree that handing a child an iphone - or whatever - as a sort of "new age pacifier" is ridiculous. No way is my daughter ever going to have a TV in her room or a phone of her own until she can show me she is able to pay for it. Through babysitting jobs, etc, that's my rule, I'm not going to budge. I don't care if we're in this new age of technology. I have repaired computers and built my own, I'm not tech-phobic nor am I tech-ignorant. I was raised that I had to get my own money for my radio when I was younger, I had to deal with a hand-me-down black n white 8-inch TV from my brother when he got a newer one, and I had to buy my own car if I didn't want to walk. My daughter is blossoming into a polite, intelligent, considerate, & independent young girl. I don't just TELL her, I set the example. When kids are mean to her and the parents are there but not disciplining them, I sit with her in the sandbox/play area/etc. I explain to her (not whispering but not loudly; I don't want it to look rude like a secret kept from the other child) that the other child might not have learned yet it isn't nice to hit, it's fun to share, or is still working on proper manners. She has patience with younger children that amazes me! :-) She will try to ask the other child if they want to learn or if they want to play or be left alone, she even reminds others very gently that hitting isn't nice. I wanted to be so angry over someone who almost ran us off the road, while I allowed myself some excitement, demonstrating that yes it was a dangerous thing, I didn't curse, didn't yell at the person, I took several deep breaths & explained what happened to my daughter. She seemed to understand and didn't show signs of being afraid - we moved on, thankful we were not hurt. I have been in a rollover accident where a careless person hit us from behind. I did lose my cool after everyone was safe, checked over by EMS, and the 'offender' tried to lie. I had to walk away and get control of myself. I'm not perfect & that's what kids need to see: that we aren't perfect, things aren't always easy, but we still have to try and do the right thing not for some reward, but because it's the right thing to do.
Posted: July 22, 2011 at 3:30 PM
Photo of Mary S.
Mary S.
I am a childcare provider and have extensive experience in the "Brat" area created by permissive parenting. Part of the motive for the parent though is our hurried life styles and the kids take their opportunities there. The parent will do anything to not be late for work, so they will let the child have the toy to take with them to childcare and all the extras they 'fit' for, just to get out of their door and into mine.
I see kids literally start crying when parents arrive to have their parents ready and willing for their request/demands.
Because of how many children I care for I have no choice but to have obedient/rule observing kids (even my 12month old comply happilly most times). The sad part is that I see the so called "Brats" growing up to have anxiety problems, life coping problems, to be non-functioning adults....it's really sad to think about, as I love the children in my care.
Parents please stop permissive parenting,(get training!) we are all guilty including myself. And just for the record, (not in childcare) but by parents, a non-hurting single swat on the rear during the misbehavior is quick and effective and the child moves on quickly onto a healthy fun activity with no emotional damage that comes from endless power-struggles/tantrums and negotiations that leave them wondering where the lines are draw today?
My mom raised 10 and we are all happy healthy parents/grandparents who have never seen addictions/jail and have been self providing functioning citizens all our lives and this was her philosophy. And she to this day, in her 80's has a tender heart for children. I am her youngest at 42. I hope this post was helpful.
Posted: July 21, 2011 at 8:23 AM
Sue B.
My Son did not become a "Brat" until he hit puberty and became a Teenager. Then I lost all control. He did not listen to a thing I said, did not respect me and hung out with the wrong crowd. I find it easy to make them mind when they are little but Teenagers are another story completely. He is now a grown man and I sometimes wonder if the "Bratty Teen" emerges with his wife?
Posted: July 18, 2011 at 1:45 PM
Valerie F.
I know that the grandparents job is to "Spoil" the grandkids, But my question is "How do you keep the Grandparents from interfering with the Parents job of discipling their children?" When my brother's kids talk back to my parents, my brother and his wife correct them. My mother feels bad and will say "That's okay" completely negating the lesson my brother is trying to teach his kids. I've told my mother when it's time to correct my children I do not want her undermining our efforts to teach my children the proper way to behave. What can I do to ensure that she doesn't say "That's okay" when my children misbehave?
Posted: July 12, 2011 at 8:00 AM
Elizabeth D.
i love the love and logic worked wonders sometimes!
Posted: July 08, 2011 at 1:59 PM
Shannon P.
This is reasonable advice for typically developing children but I have a child on the autism spectrum. He "misbehaves" all the time due to sensory overload and an inability to interact with his environment. The unfortunate part is that when he does have a meltdown in public people assume it is permissive parenting or a discipline problem versus a physiological issue. I would hope that before we assume a child is a brat we consider all possible alternatives. Look at your child with an open mind and don't be too hard on yourself.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 1:50 PM
April Joanne M.
Some of this is really great but I'd like to see more ways on dealing with children who are not yet talking and exhibiting these behaviors or similar.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 1:28 PM
Bridgette A.
Gret article! I have been doing all the things suggested, and GGGRRRR!!, sometimes it just doesn't help!! But I keep my patience and stand my ground!! I noticed that you didn't touch on the "outside influences" subject. That is a huge factor in the kids acting up. I recently cut down the amount of time my kids (6 & 3) spend with grandparents. They were spending up to 6 hrs a day with them 6 days a week. My kids were devils!! I had a change in my schedule and they didn't "have" to be there anymore! In about 2 weeks time my kids turned into the little (half) angels I knew they could be!! So just to test my theory on this outside influences "thing", I took the kids over to spend time with grandparents about 3 hours 2 days in a row! OMG!!! My kids were devils again!!! I know grandparents "spoil" grandkids, but this is madness!! They literally let these kids tell them what to do!! I feel bad for "keeping" the kids from them for periods of time but, SHEESH!!
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 1:08 PM
Photo of Cindy H.
Cindy H.
Read "Loving our Kids on Purpose" by Danny Silk...or Love and Logic parenting
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 1:06 PM
Sarah H.
"On becoming baby wise", book 1 and 2. And "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk"
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 12:38 PM
Creative Play A.
Many of us forget that structure and consistant, purposeful rules make children feel secure. Having things be somewhat predictable and not a haphazzard mess is comforting. Helping children make little decisions now gives practice for future decisions.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 11:54 AM
Cheryll B.
This is a very good article and points out many of the same issues I see my daughter having with her four year young daughter. I agree with you on all points except the idea of handing over a phone to a child to entertain them. That is one of the problems in the world today. Children should not be allowed to play with anything and everything regardless of the cost of the device just to entertain them. How about playing a verbal game with them or teaching them to find ways to momentarily entertain themselves? Always having to rely on some "technological" device is robbing your child of learning something on their own.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 11:28 AM
Nadia M.
Kevin Lehman, "How to have a new kid by Friday"
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Keven S.
Fantastic advice! Great job.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 11:13 AM
Lisa H.
It's in the article.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 10:35 AM
Dayna M.
Great piece. #4 is the top vote-getter in our house.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 10:06 AM
Laura M.
Great article! My husband and I have 5 children(ages 25-9) and have been married for 24 years. The entire article was right on but the best advice of all is to remember mommy and daddy need play dates to!! The kids will not suffer from being left with a sitter, Much better then having divorced parents!
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 10:03 AM
Tricia C.
Book suggestion: any parenting books by Dr. Dobson.
Now that my children are older, I look back and see way too much "negotiating"..... it is NOT our job to make others "happy", our job is to raise polite-competent-considerate-capable adults in a kind way. I hope my future son/daughter-in-law will say: "Thank you for helping to mold this polite-competent-consider-capable adult." Do you always get your way? Does your spouse? Look at where our society is now: self-centered. Isn't that how brats are made? Chuckle: our crusty-85-yr-old-minister grew up with parents who said "the only thing we OWE you is a Christian burial. All the rest is gravy."
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:54 AM
Steven L.
Don't agree with number three ... "If you know your daughter will whine for ice cream each time you leave the playground and pass the Good Humor truck, take a different exit or cue up Angry Birds on your phone and distract her.".... If you are taking another route to exit the play ground or distracting them with Angry Birds then you are avoiding the problem not solving it. You are begin manipulated by their behavior. You need to confront this issue. Just say "No ice cream this time." They will learn to live with the fact that they can't have everything they want all the time.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:25 AM
Roselle F.
I loved that the corrections are very concrete and simple to use. I's common sense . I agree time away with your sig other is really important and not just a luxury. The date night should be on the calender.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:21 AM
Lori C.
"Parenting with Love and Logic"
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:12 AM
Photo of Kris B.
Kris B.
The book 3-2-1 Magic was a lifesaver for us, and provides step-by-step instructions on how to incorporate the structure that a lot of kids need to learn how to behave, but especially high-energy kids, like our ADHD son. After we used the tactics above and the "counting" with him, his behavior improved dramatically.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:05 AM
Alicia W.
My three kids are all brats, and we (my husband and I ) fully acknowledge that we are to blame. We have a 5 yr old, a 4 yr old, and a 3 yr old, and unfortunately, nobody wants to be the bad guy or the enforcer. We are reaping what we have sowed, and we are try desperately to backpeddle and lay down some new ground rules. Needless to say, it isn't going that well.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:03 AM
Photo of Steffanie N.
Steffanie N.
Blessings of a Skinned Knee - Wendy Mogel
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 9:02 AM
Photo of Rebecca F.
Rebecca F.
Fantastic article. My second marriage broke up because the brats ran the show *as well as their mother * and it was sheer hell.
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 8:51 AM
Cindy Z.
Brat? Not quite a term of endearment but one that is unfortunately used quite a bit. Children act out these behaviors out of fear, if we can stop seeing them "as" the behavior and understand the fears behind them it's a much easier road to forming an alliance with our children instead of power struggles. A key factor is to understand our own stress in these situations so we can break the feedback loop created when they're dysregulated which can lead to our own dysregulation.

Absolutely great topic, thanks for posting it. I absolutely agree with much of the "how to handle" suggestions but it's really just the tip of the iceburg on getting these kids regulated and teaching them how to self regulate.

I enjoy reading your posts here, thanks for putting in the time and effort to share them...
Posted: July 05, 2011 at 7:59 AM
Lexi G.
i think my sis is a brat...lolz
Posted: July 03, 2011 at 1:23 AM
Kristin L.
Wonderful advise any suggested Books to back this up??
Posted: June 01, 2011 at 3:32 PM
Leave a Comment
You can post a comment by logging in to your Care.com account or continue as a guest below.
errortext
Email*
Display Name*
Comment*
Success! Your comment is waiting to be approved. It will post soon.
Post another comment

Connect with Care.com

Join Free Today!
What would you like to do?
Membership Type*
By clicking Join Now, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
Put Safety first
Read our Safety Guide for tools and tips to keep you and your family safe.
Visit Sheila's Blog
Get advice for your family from our founder (and chief mom officer), Sheila Lirio Marcelo.
Sponsored Listings