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Am I Raising a Brat? (Part II)
In “How Not to Raise a Brat,” an earlier article I wrote for this website, I offered parents techniques they could use to avoid raising a bratty child. This article is a follow-up designed to help parents distinguish the classic characteristics of bratty behavior.
Now, no one wants to raise a brat. Therefore, it’s important for parents to be able to know what constitutes brattiness. If parents know how to identify a brat, they can avoid raising one—or take steps to turn a child’s bratty behavior around. Remember, if you don’t discourage bratty behavior, you’re in for much unpleasantness as a parent.

“The Brat Syndrome”
A syndrome is a pattern of behaviors that appear consistently. Here’s a description of the Brat Syndrome:
  • These children are never happy.
  • They make everyone around them miserable.
  • They’re never satisfied.
  • They feel and act entitled.
  • Their motto is, “It’s all about me.”
  • What’s most important to them is still on the shelf at the store.
  • They cry, whine, pout, threaten and manipulate.
  • They’re unable to tolerate frustration.
  • They have frequent temper tantrums.
  • They want what they want when they want it.
  • They’re unaware that their behavior upsets others.
  • Their behavior doesn’t improve after scolding or punishment.
  • They’re ungrateful.
  • They see adults who set limits as mean and unfair.
  • They behave so miserably that they usually get their way.
  • They’re disrespectful and frequently embarrass their parents.
  • Telling them “no” inspires them to campaign for a “yes.”

The following checklist can help you decide if you need to change your parenting to avoid raising a brat.

Parenting Checklist
  • Do you feel like your child is running you?
  • Does your child talk back to you, speak disrespectfully and call you names?
  • Does you child rarely take “no” for an answer or cooperate with requests?
  • Do you have to ask your child 10 times to do something?
  • Do you have to raise your voice and threaten him to get his cooperation?
  • Do you find that no matter how much you do for your child she wants more and more?
  • Are you often embarrassed by your child’s behavior?
  • Do you feel you spend too much time persuading your child to cooperate?
  • Does your child call you names, swear at you or hit you?
  • Do you frequently change your “no” to a “yes”?
  • Do you threaten punishment and then back down?
  • Are you worried that you will damage your child by being strict?

Parents are usually good at seeing the signs of sickness. They know when they’re child becomes ill and needs to be taken to the pediatrician. But they also need to know when their parenting has gotten off track.

The good news about brattiness is that it can be eradicated if it is caught and dealt with before adolescence. However, if you’re the parent of a 2-year-old, and you see many of this bratty behavior in your child, relax. Much of the behavior described—such as a zero tolerance for frustration and temper tantrums— is developmentally normal for toddlers. It’s when the “Terrible Twos” turn into the “Terrible 4s,” Terrible 7s” and so on that you need to take charge.

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist