Why is it that so many parents are scared of raising a spoiled or bratty child? Parents are afraid that if they give in a buy their child one item from the dollar bin, their child will forever feel entitled. Or that one meltdown in the middle of the store is a sign that your child has become one of those kids. You know those kids – the ones that you saw before you had one of your own, the ones that you said my child will never behave like that in public. Many parents (me included) have this fear that if we don’t do things right, our children will turn out to be bratty, entitled and insufferable.
So, what are we to do? Here are just a few tips on how to NOT raise a bratty kid:
Remember their age. Whether your child is a toddler or teenager, they are still growing and learning. It’s impossible for us as parents to fully understand what is going on in their brains and why. It’s easy for us to think that whatever is happening is not a big deal because we have the capacity and wisdom to rationalize a better outcome. In that moment, whether your child is being bratty or sassy or acting spoiled, they are reacting to the situation in the only way they know how. You may argue that you have taught them better and that might be true, but in this moment, this is their reaction. Which leads us to:
One incident does not a brat make. Having a major meltdown in the Target toy aisle does not mean that your child is destined for a life as a spoiled brat. Or just because you agree to let them have one more cookie does not mean they will feel entitled forever. Meltdowns are their way of saying I’m hungry or I’m tired or I don’t have the words to tell you what I need or I don’t have the emotional capacity to handle this situation any more. Every child (teens included) has these moments of weakness. These moments are not the ultimate, defining moment of the rest of their lives. It’s one moment, out of millions of moments we’ll have. That’s all. And in those moments, we have to remember to:
Keep calm and carry on. This one is so much easier said than done. It is so hard in the middle of a meltdown to keep calm, especially if you are in public! It’s so hard for us when we hear that attitude of entitlement start to rise, it instantly triggers that voice in us, “oh no, I’m raising a bratty/spoiled child! What do I do?” We feel we have to fix it right there on the spot. We need to course correct so our child doesn’t become that child. But I’m telling you, step one is to keep calm. I know this is so hard. You might even get to a point where you want to lay on the floor and start crying too, but take a deep breath and resist. Look at your child, hold them and recognize they are struggling with something. See if you can identify what is really going on. Is it really about the toy, or the cookie or whatever you said “no” to? Think about it, observe, but for now, keep it to yourself. Step two, carry on. Once all is calm and the tantrum/spoiled moment has passed, carry on with the day. Go forward with the day as if the moment didn’t happen. Give space if space is needed. Refill your patience and don’t hold a grudge against your child for the rest of the day. Later on, maybe that night at bedtime, talk to your child about the incident. Ask them to use their words. Use your words. Explain why their behavior upset you. Discuss it with a promise to try better next time and end it with a hug. Don’t be surprised if within 24 hours it happens again. They will forget. Their emotions will get the best of them. It will feel like you are back at square one, but you are not. Stay consistent. It may not change overnight, but it will work over time. Your words are locked away in their brain, waiting for that lightbulb moment when it all clicks.
You got this. Stop worrying and start enjoying. Not every moment will be perfect, but the good moments far outweigh the not so good.
Are you working through a similar parenting struggle? I currently have 2 openings in my 90-day, one-on-one, Parent Coaching Workshop and would love for you to fill one of those spots. Message me or comment below and I can fill you in on all the details.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.