How to Not Raise a Spoiled Brat

By Erica Loop
Stop your child's defiant ways.
Stop your child's defiant ways.

If you are absolutely done with hearing, "But, mommy! I have to have that new doll. You have to buy it for me right now!" or similar whines and demands on a daily basis, put a stop to the spoiled-child behavior immediately. Choose parenting techniques and strategies that combat brattiness and help your child to act in a less than spoiled manner. While this isn't always easy, you can turn around your child's bad behaviors and make her mood more manageable.

Understand what types of behaviors are acceptable for your child's age. For example, your toddler may have a completely normal tantrum out of frustration when she can't handle the powerful emotions your saying, "no" stir up in her. On the other hand, your tween shouldn't freak out and scream every time you don't give in to her demands. Base your discipline strategy for raising an unspoiled child on your child's age, adjusting it as she grows and matures.

Keep yourself calm. Avoid losing control when your child makes demands or acts like a brat. Take a deep breath, count to 10 or visualize a serene beach instead of throwing your own tantrum when your child won't follow your requests or demands.

Model non-bratty behaviors for your child. According to the pediatric pros at the KidsHealth website, acting as a positive example for your child is a powerful way to help her to learn and understand what is, or isn't, appropriate behavior. For example, if you really want an uber-expensive pair of shoes, but your budget doesn't agree, don't tell your child you're going to buy them anyway. This just shows your child that it's acceptable to get whatever you want, no matter what they consequences -- such as a financial loss. Instead, say something like, "I think that those shoes are very pretty, but I can't always buy everything that I want. Maybe I will wait until my birthday instead."

Make clear rules for your child to follow. Your child's spoiled behavior may result from the lack of structure or unclear consequences. Create a list of rules, depending on your child's age, as well as consequences. For example, tell your preschooler that if she asks for a new toy more than twice while you are at the mall, she will not get the cookie treat in the food court.

Draw a line between your child's wants and needs. Understand the differences between the two, knowing that wants are things that aren't necessary for your child's survival, while needs are. Help your child to understand the difference between these two concepts as well. Explain to her that while she may want a new doll, she needs to eat healthy food.

Instruct your child in the ways of patience. Avoid giving in to his demands immediately. Help him to wait before he gets what he wants. For example, if he demands a cookie immediately, but dinner is in 30 minutes, tell him he must wait until after he eats a more nutritious meal.

Tip

Help your child to understand the value of money. It's possible that she constantly asks for new toys or clothes because she doesn't truly understand how money or credit cards work. Give her an allowance for doing chores and ask her to use her own money to contribute to her extras, such as toys or special clothes.

Warning

Avoid praising your child too much. While some praise is an effective form of positive discipline -- such as saying, "You are doing such a good job at waiting to take your turn" -- don't go overboard. Praising every little thing he does will only serve to spoil him even more than he already is. Feeling special is key, but your child shouldn't believe he is the center of the universe.

Don't shame your child or call her names. Although she will act like a brat at times, you don't have to call her that name. Instead of saying, "You are acting like such as little brat. Stop that," tell her she isn't listening to you or that she needs to use more polite and respectful words.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.