I’d like to start by saying that I don’t think you should ever call a child a brat – that label can be damaging to a child’s self-image and should be reserved for two-dimensional movie and TV characters – but kids can certainly display a number of bratty behaviors. Of course, other people may think of your child as a brat because they just don’t know any better, and they have no idea what’s going on “behind the scenes” that make your child misbehave in public.
Some bratty behaviors your young child might be guilty of:
- Incessant whining
- Making annoying noises even after they’ve been asked to stop
- Running around or climbing on things when they should be sitting still, like at a restaurant
- Talking back to adults
- Teasing to buy things at the store
- Throwing a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way
The list goes on, but these are the things we all dread when we go out in public – or even at home.
What to do about bratty behaviors
It can be exasperating when you’re in a restaurant or a store and you realize that everyone is looking at your kid and waiting for you to make them stop. You’ve begged, you’ve pleaded, and you kind of want to throw things yourself. But one of the worst things you can do is blow up at your child, because that likely won’t make them stop doing what they’re doing, plus people might start wondering if they should call social services on you or something. So you need a plan.
- Speak quietly but firmly when telling your child they need to stop a certain behavior.
- If your request is ignored, do not raise your voice, but tell them what the consequence will be for not complying. Give them a timeframe to start listening. (By the time you count to 5, etc.) Will they lose TV time? Will they need to take a timeout? No more going to <insert your current location, if it’s someplace your child likes to go> again for a week or two?
- If they still don’t listen, you’ll have to make good on the consequences you threatened. For preschoolers and other young children, the more immediate the consequence and the more appropriate it is for the “crime,” the better.
- If the consequence begets a temper tantrum, it may be time for you to leave and go home. This often sucks for you as a parent, because it may mean leaving a restaurant before the end of your meal or leaving a cartful of groceries at the store. If you’re already at home, it may be time to use the old standby, “Go to your room.” At this age, it doesn’t really matter if he or she plays with her toys when they’re up there, as long as they calm down.
- Later on, when everything is calm, ask your child why they were misbehaving in the first place. They may not be able to put it into words yet, but it’s good to have them thinking about their behavior.
The important thing to remember is to keep your cool. Yelling generally only escalates a situation, and if you speak quietly, your child will have to become quiet in order to hear you. (This is especially useful when your child is whining or having a tantrum, because they’ll need to calm in order to hear what you are “whispering.”) Also, try to figure out what is causing your child’s behavior. Are they mad, sad, nervous, or sick? Are there “grown-up” problems going on that they can’t understand but are still affected by, like illness in the family, financial problems, or marital tension? Getting to the root cause of the behavior might help stop it in the future.
What do you do when your child is acting like a brat?
Tags: behavior, kids