There is no such thing as a brat, only a child who is hurting. When our starting point as parents is a close bond with our children, we are their North Star, the point around which they orient. They want more than anything in the world to protect that relationship and meet our expectations, as long as that doesn’t compromise their own integrity. If our child is acting like a “brat,” she’s either signaling that she needs a stronger connection with us, that she’s got some big feelings she needs our help with, or that she can’t meet our expectation without some tailored support. After all, that (along with modeling) is how we teach acceptable behavior!
So given that Aha! insight, which would be the most effective way to transform “bratty” behavior into cooperative behavior?
- Having high expectations for our child’s behavior
- Ignoring “bad behavior”
- Give tailored support
- Setting empathic limits
- Help the child with the feelings that are keeping him from cooperating by playing
- Help the child with the feelings that are keeping him from cooperating by crying
Let’s consider each of these in turn…