Parents love their children.  Most of us can recognize a brat in other people’s children, and think our own children are the best behaved.  Are they really?  Here list of the top five “WHYS” behind bratty behavior.

1.  Power of Communication is one of the first things a child learns.  The cry gets a baby fed, changed, rocked, and held.  While the crying is a natural instinct, babies quickly learn the power of their cry.  We react, as we should, and our child is empowered by the simplest form of communication.  Babies quickly learn that they can get more wants and needs met by more crying.  This is where it begins.  It’s certainly not where it ends.  Soon our children learn the power of the word NO. They learn all about the word MINE.  As our children develop cognitively, throughout their life, their communications skills develop accordingly, and they begin to explore that power. So as important as it is to help our children develop a depth of vocabulary, it is equally important that we teach them when and if their communication is appropriate.  We must also impress upon them, the consequences of their communication, which includes their actions, as children and adults.

2.  Environmental Defiance is something most children go through during a variety of interim periods in their life.  Good behavior is a skill we teach our children.  Perhaps it seems strange to look at it that way, but it’s true.  The more a child practices good behavior, the more skilled they become at it.  Then why is our angel acting up in school? Why is she so good with grandma and such a brat with mom?  Why is she such a team player with her friends and such a bully on the playground?  All of that is because she has not yet learned to generalize the respective skill.  Imagine what it would be like for you to move to a new country you never visited before.  How would you know what to expect? How would you survive? Would it be easy? No.  It would be foreign.  We would be frustrated, perhaps, even angry.  We would have to figure out how to function at our best in our new environment.  It would take time. It would take practice.  The same is true for our children when we take them from one environment and put them into another.  They need time and practice to adjust.

3.  Sense of Entitlement rears it’s bratty little head during the first phases of Power of Communication.  Initially, this becomes most noticeable with your child’s mastery of the use of a special word; mine! It’s perfectly natural and appropriate.  The key to teaching our children to have a healthy sense of self-worth without the unhealthy sense of entitlement is…      Oh, were you waiting for some simple how-to answer?  Yeah – but, no.  Obviously, the key is balance.  Finding it, then teaching it to our children, is not simple at all.  While we work our way through it as parents, our children will act like brats.  Our job is to make sure they don’t become brats.  We have to create the balance for them, through guidance, discipline, and example, until they can maintain that balance on their own.  We all know entitled adults.  Think about those people for a moment.  Think about their struggles.  They do struggle.  People may tolerate them, but few people like them.  They are less likely to relate to the struggles of others.  They are egocentric.  Their self-absorption causes them to be outcasts among their peers.  Parents must teach their children that the world does not revolve solely around them.

4.  Physical Development is responsible for a series of brat stages.  Just like discovering the Power of Communication, children begin discovering the power of their physical abilities.  As soon as a baby becomes mobile, such as crawling, walking, running – we will be chasing behind them.  Soon they can bolt in a parking lot, jump on the furniture, and climb to dangerous heights. These first stages are especially difficult for parents.  Physical Development continues up through puberty and beyond, remembered by parents as both heartwarming and hearth wrenching. We remember our baby’s first step and the screechy whining of our boy as he begins to hit puberty, growing three inches in two months, with no time for family or anything except eating you out of house and home, and sleep.  We remember working our way up to the oh-so-awkward talks of the birds and the bees and buying that first training bra.  As your child explores their own physical development, pick your battles wisely.  Do not get over agitated over temporary phases.  Watch for significant behavior changes that can’t be attributed to Physical Development.  Otherwise, take a deep breath and look forward to the memories you will one day look back on.


5.  Inconsistent Discipline is the most common cause of bratty behavior.  It is also the most likely cause for a child who acts like a brat actually becoming a brat.  I know that parents hate to hear this.  Still, listen.  We are all busy.  Our children see us on the phone and instantly ask for things they know we would respond, “No!” to, otherwise. We do things like ground them from television.  Then we regret that decision because we just want them to watch TV and be quiet, for even five minutes.  So, we come up with some ridiculous excuse and explanation for why we are shortening their punishment.  Do NOT give your children a punishment that will make more work for yourself or that you will not follow through with.  You are better off telling them that there will be a serious consequence next time, while you are willing to give them a pass for right now.  Do NOT ground your children from going out with their friends but still allow them to go to that party, because it’s special.  Do NOT put your children in time out if you aren’t willing to do so wherever your child misbehaves.  I know.  Parents hate being stared at in public by other parents and avoiding it becomes our first priority.  So, we tell our children that there will be a serious consequence, when we get home. NO!!!!!!!  Trust me, you will be sorry for waiting to deal with their behavior.  This is why children are willing to take their chances.  They know that chances are, you will have calmed down by the time you get home, giving them time to downplay their bratty behavior.  Children should learn to be embarrassed of their inappropriate behavior.  If you have to sit your child down in the middle of an aisle in the grocery store, by all means, do it.  I am not suggesting that you scream at them and make a bigger scene.  However, taking immediate action when your child is being a brat is key to breaking their instinct to behave like one.   Make sure your extended family also understands and adheres to your rules for your children, even when your children are at their home.  Do the same with the parents of your children’s friends.  Talk to your child’s teacher, coach, and mentor.  Try to find a common ground so that the conditions of rewards and consequences are similar across the board.  Say what you mean.  Do not threaten. Do what you say.  Be prepared for the day your child starts trying to make you feel guilty with a line that begins with; “My friends’ parents….”  You are not their parents.  All parents want their children to feel accepted by other kids.  You do not want your child to be like other kids.  So, DON’T be like other parents who inconsistently discipline their children and have the brats to prove it.  

By:  Alicia Gonzalez