I have zero tolerance for brat behavior from my children. Period.
I have no patience for it, none at all.
Want to offend the core of who I am? Demonstrate brat behavior.
Want to risk having all privileges stripped from your life? Demonstrate brat behavior.
Want to make me cringe to my bones? Demonstrate brat behavior.
Want me to be embarrassed beyond belief? Demonstrate brat behavior.
Want to humble me, make me realize this motherhood thing is serious, serious business? Demonstrate brat behavior.
Harsh, I know.
But brat behavior is something I don’t take lightly. The slightest offense and the most outright one are all the same in my book.
I’m fully aware that my children are privileged. They have everything they need. And between Christmas and birthdays, they get a lot of the things they want.
Sure, the 11-year-old wants a Xbox, a television in his room, and his own phone. Sure, the 9-year-old wants an iPod, her own iPad and another American Girl Doll. But let’s be realistic, these things are NOT necessities! And I’m not interested in getting them for my children anytime soon.
I want my children to be kind, humble, grateful, giving and other-oriented.
So moms, how should we respond when our children demonstrate even an ounce of brat behavior? Let me suggest five ways.
1. Determine an appropriate consequence for your child’s brat behavior. In other words, do not ignore the offense, but instead determine the best way to let your child know their behavior was unacceptable. Did they leave their birthday present on the ground and neglect to say thank you to grandpa and grandma? Well, maybe they don’t get birthday cake then, and maybe they need to spend the night in their room. Did they demand you get them that bowl of cereal or glass of lemonade? Maybe they need to try again using kinder words, or maybe they need to get the bowl of cereal or glass of lemonade themselves.
2. Put your child to work. Get them helping around the house. Enlist them in helping with dinner, setting the table, cleaning up the table, and picking up the snack wrappers they left all over the house. Make them clean their room, even if they don’t like it. Make them help you with 20 minutes of yard work, even if they think it’s the “dumbest thing ever.”
3. Get your child outdoors. As far as I’ve observed, children are most creative and least bratty when they’re outdoors engaging in child play. Bring them to the playground, give them some chalk and let them write all over the driveway, buy some water balloons from the dollar store and let them fill them up to their heart’s desire, encourage them to take their scooters and bikes out for a ride, or maybe, just maybe, let them get bored for once and they’ll come up with something really cool to do!
4. Encourage your child to serve others. And if it doesn’t come naturally, set up a service opportunity. Is there garbage all over the road leading to your neighborhood? Get garbage bags and go clean it up with your child. Is there an opportunity to serve others in need through your church or a local nonprofit? Sign up. Does grandma need someone to wipe the table and get buns from the freezer? Assign your child to those tasks.
5. Create space for margin in your life. Perhaps your child is tired, worn out, overstimulated. Stop doing. Stop going. Stop buying. Get quiet. Get close. Get near. Wonder, just wonder, what it would be like if you and your child chilled out and just enjoyed life together – without things, without special activities, without once in a lifetime opportunities. What if it’s not MORE they need, but LESS?
Moms, I certainly don’t have this problem solved, and I’m most definitely NOT a perfect mom. My goal is simply to reduce (and ideally eliminate) the undesired brat behaviors my children exhibit from time to time. Because even an ounce of brat behavior makes me realize that motherhood is serious, serious business.
We’re raising human beings who will one day become adults. And the last thing we want to create is entitled adults. Right?
If nothing else, may this post help you realize you’re not alone. Or maybe you’ve read something that will make you think twice next time your child demonstrates brat behavior and you’re wondering how to respond.
As moms, it’s our privilege and responsibility to raise children that are respectful, honoring, giving and grateful. So are you ready moms? Let’s fight to instill these values in our children. Because it’s worth every ounce of effort we’re willing to give.
*This post is part of a month-long series titled Motherhood Unraveled. To read more from this series, click here and read to the bottom where all the posts are listed and linked!