10 Common Parenting Mistakes That Turn Your Child Into a Spoiled Brat

You may not want to admit it, but if your child is showing signs of being a spoiled brat, maybe you’ve done something wrong as a parent? Yes, we all want the best for our children, but sometimes our best intentions can lead to negative effects. Parenting styles can vary greatly, but they all have an impact on children’s development and behaviour.

Spoiled children exhibit behavioural problems from being over-indulged by parents. And, unfortunately, they grow up to be spoiled adults – characterised as being disgruntled, complaining, and discontent, often hungry for more and more attention and possessions. This can all be avoided by encouraging resilience in young children.

Some parents believe they should not always be blamed for their child’s outbursts or unruly behaviour. The child may outgrow certain traits or mature over time, they argue. But one thing is sure: “difficult” children do exist.

Although it’s normal for children below four years old to act out every now and then, there does come a point when parents must also realise that their little angel seems to be sprouting tiny red horns. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate things. Take a deep breath, be humble and open, and be willing to change, mums and dads. Remember none of us are perfect and we are all learning how to do this parenting thing right. The pitfalls are many, but the reward – a strong, independent and resilient child – is worth the hard work.

 

Here’s a list of 10 mistakes too many parents make that actually encourage bratty behaviour.

1. Rewarding bad behaviour

Picture this – your child just ate a slice of chocolate fudge cake for dessert but now he also wants an ice cream sundae. You tell him “no” because you feel he’s had more than enough sugar for one day, which sets off a tantrum.

Of course, the simple – yet difficult – solution to help your child to be self-reliant is to say “no” to his demands. This will help him to find a solution to his own problems and is key to raising a self-reliant and resourceful child.

But more often than not, you may eventually give in and order a second dessert for him just to keep him quiet while you try to finish your steak in peace.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

Giving in to your child’s demands – especially during tantrums – only makes him learn that mummy and daddy will cave as long as he screams and cries hard enough.

Clinical psychologist Dr Vasco Lopes,(1) says that this is a learned behaviour, which becomes a conditioned response.

“Even if it only works 5 out of 10 times that they tantrum, that intermittent reinforcement makes it a very solid learned behaviour. So they’re going to continue that behaviour in order to get what they want,” she explains.

2. Over-protecting them from the real world

As parents we feel it’s our duty to keep our child out of harm’s way. Naturally, we do all we can to protect them. Some of us would bubble wrap our children if we could.

Do you make all the decisions for your child without listening to his opinion? Or swoop in to rescue him whenever things go wrong?

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

This particular parenting style is practiced by helicopter parents. It prevents your child from becoming daring, independent, learning from their mistakes, and problem-solving on their own. To learn how to raise a resilient child (which encompasses of adaptability, daringness, self-reliance, resourcefulness and perseverance) , avoid the practices of helicopter parents at all costs.

Helicopter parenting can also lead to bratty behaviour and impairs children’s ability to thrive after facing challenges.

3. Making empty threats

Let’s say your child is drawing and decides it’ll be fun to scribble all over the walls, floor, and coffee table.

You remind him to create art on paper instead and tell him that if he continues to vandalise the house, you’re going to take away all his crayons. But he chooses to ignore you and keeps drawing all over the living room wall.

You contemplate taking the crayons away from him, but end up just letting him continue with his graffiti because you’re too tired to argue or deal with him crying when he doesn’t get his own way.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

According to Dr Hansa Bhargava,(2) a paediatrician at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (USA), “Toddlers and preschoolers can easily pick up the difference between an empty threat and actual punishment. We really love our children, and we want what’s best for them, but it’s really important to follow through (on punishment).”

Bhargava also warns parents that if this keeps up, your child eventually might not look at you as a figure of authority, and when he grows up he could turn elsewhere for guidance.

4. Giving them a sense of entitlement

You want your little one to know how special he is, and every tiny task he completes is celebrated with much fanfare. But treating your child like he is the center of the universe is not how to build a child’s confidence. This will build a sense of entitlement and will not help you in raising a resilient child.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

Amy McCready, author of The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World, believes that parents play a major role in this problem.

“None of us intends to raise an entitled child, but often in our loving attempts to do the best for our children, we over-parent. We over-indulge, over-praise and mow down any obstacle in their path with ninja-like swiftness. And when we do? We rob children off the opportunity to do for themselves, learn from mistakes, or adapting to adversity,” she explains.

 

5. Letting your child be the boss

Does any of this sound familiar? You refer to your little one as “your royal highness” and wait on him hand and foot, catering to his every need. You don’t mind letting junior boss you around. You just want him to be happy – even if you secretly disagree with his choices.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

Your child needs you to be an authoritative figure, not his personal slave. You need to make the big decisions for him.

Remember that your role as a parent is not to serve your children. It is to encourage and nurture, while setting boundaries. These boundaries – not giving everything he asks for – is how to build resilience in children. Children need to persevere against difficulties (within boundaries), towards their own personal goals. And this is how they learn valuable lessons about themselves.

Don’t be afraid to say no, or to lay down the law when you have to.

Elaine Rose Glickman, author of the book Your Kid’s a Brat and It’s All Your Fault: Nip the Attitude in the Bud — From Toddler to Tween, says, “Just as you feel better knowing that someone trained and knowledgeable and trustworthy is in charge of things outside your area of expertise, your child will feel better knowing you’re the boss.”

6. Allowing them to walk all over you

Do you let your child talk to you rudely or treat you poorly? When he is upset about something, does he shout at you, pull your hair, kick your shins, call you names, and just generally take things out on you?

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

You should let your child know that violence is not the answer and encourage him to express his feelings in a better way.

It’s never ok for a child to hit anyone, including mummy and daddy. The longer this bad behaviour goes uncorrected, the more likely he will grow up to be aggressive towards others.

Accept that your child is being a brat instead of placing the blame on others.

 

7. Putting blame elsewhere

Your child can do no wrong, and you are quick to defend him whenever someone accuses him of something.

If the teacher says he’s not paying attention in class, you automatically blame her instead for being boring and not conducting a fun lesson.

Or when your child gets into a squabble at the playground because he doesn’t want to share the slide with his friend, you are quick to jump in and blame the other child for trying to ruin your little one’s fun.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

If you think your child can do no wrong, you’re only doing him more harm than good.

He’ll never learn that there are consequences to his actions and thinks he can get away with everything. Admitting your child’s mistake builds your own resilience as well, allowing you to lead by example and in return teaching him a life-long valuable life lesson.

8. Being more friend than parent

You want to be the “cool parent” and become best buddies with your child. So you act like his pal rather than a fuddy duddy mum or dad, hoping that he’ll be more willing to form a close bond with you.

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

What your child really needs from you is to be a responsible parent who helps to guide him and teach him right from wrong.

Veteran social worker Janet Lehman, MSW,(3) says, “Our role as parents is really to teach, coach and give our children consequences when they misbehave. If you slip into that friend role, however, it’s virtually impossible to lay down the law and set limits on your child’s inappropriate behaviour.”

9. Coming up with excuses

When your child is acting cranky and kicking up a fuss, you try to figure out what could possibly be causing this outburst – perhaps he’s just sleepy? Or hungry? Or just bored?

There must be a reason why he’s throwing a tantrum, right?

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

After the age of four, frequent tantrums could be a cause for concern.(4) But as your child grows older, he will start to mature and you should be able to reason with him.

The longer you are in denial, the worse his behaviour will get through time.

10. Not nipping it in the bud

You think that your child is still young so you just brush it off and accept his negative behaviour.

Perhaps he’ll eventually grow out of it and stop being a brat?

WHY THIS IS A MISTAKE:

Studies(5) show that children who are bratty will probably grow up to become spoiled adults too.

It can also cause them to:

● Lack emotional maturity

● Have poor problem-solving skills

● Be unmotivated

● Become unhappy loners

As a parent, you are planting the seeds of their future. For them to become a better person, you must become a better parent; instilling resilience in your child. So listen to that small voice inside you that says your child is possibly a brat, embrace it and help him grow exceptionally.