Why it’s easy to raise a bratBy Audrey Tan-Zubiri
Philippine Daily Inquirer
There is nothing like a screaming, wailing child in a store to grab the attention of every passer-by. Sometimes, the reason for the crying could be valid, like a head bonked against a corner. However, there are times when it is what it is: A child who has been given too much, without limits and boundaries. The dreaded species is born—spoiledus bratinellien.
We strive to make our children grow up like the little angels we feel they are, but sometimes we end up with holy terrors instead. Every parent wants to give her/his child the best, but how do you draw the line between giving them the best and giving them too much?
Though it may come as complete surprise to parents when their children turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, the transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It happens little by little, as parents and the yaya spoil their wards in a number of ways.
It’s not hard to create a brattinella. It’s actually pretty easy, and it starts with…
1. Inconsistency—We have a lot of rules on paper for kids and sometimes, we actually get to enforce them successfully. But there are times when it is just easier to say “yes,” in the mistaken belief that one time won’t hurt. But according to Betsy Brown Braun, a child-development specialist, “one careless ‘yes’ fuels a child through a thousand ‘no’s.’”
That one time you say yes to a new toy, in an attempt to quell your child’s tantrum, will embolden your child to ask for the same thing over and over again.
This also applies to parents who are not on the same page. Mom spends the whole week putting her foot down and saying “no,” but if dad comes home and says, “yes,” in a heartbeat to everything, lessons of the past week could all just go to waste.
Making up for absence and guilt
2. Overindulgence—Based on the number of times I hear this complaint, this seems to be a popular problem among mothers, especially those with hardworking husbands who try to make up for their absence and assuage their guilt with gifts and an overindulgent attitude.
Parents usually mean well when they take the kids out for a treat. But one must keep in mind that emotional bonding shouldn’t be bought in the toy store.
In some cases, parents want to give their children all the things that they themselves did not have as children. Instead of focusing on giving what you did not have, focus on letting children enjoy the simple things you enjoyed as a child.
3. Creating false needs—In a recent conversation I had with my friend, Ria Mackay, she praised her sister-in-law for raising level-headed children. She said one thing which struck me: “NOT creating false needs.”
How true! Too many times, it is we parents who create or give the child the idea that he “needs” a new toy or the latest gadget, just because his cousins/friends have it.
4. Lack of appreciation due to lack of merit —Dr. Jim Taylor, a clinical associate professor of psychology, says that he has worked with numerous families where children are given the best of everything yet they turn out to be good and responsible adults, not spoiled and irresponsible.
What makes the difference is attitude. The first type of children is raised to be grateful for everything it has received; the second type feels a sense of entitlement.
A child, who is made to work for his rewards, will more likely appreciate the reward than one who is given everything for no reason at all.
There are also families who believe that “excellence should be a reward in itself” and therefore, opt not to “reward” accomplishments. Some parents feel that constantly rewarding children for “accomplishments”—supposedly a given—is a bad habit.
It’s not my place to say which method is right or wrong, but as with anything in life, perhaps balance is the key; know when and how to reward, as well as when a simple pat on the back will suffice.
Importance and attention
5. Making children the center of the universe—Nowadays, children are given a lot more importance and attention than ever; just look at the plethora of products, services and centers being marketed today!
Let me quote the popular saying: “The easiest way to make life hard for your child is to make it too easy for him.”
I wish I knew who the original author of that was; that saying is a universal truth.
There is only so much we can do, and should do, for the kids. Too much will rob them of the opportunity to grow and learn from experiences which they need to become productive members of society.
Making everything revolve around their feelings and desires could make them unable later to learn to work with others, and to be compassionate. Being compassionate and able to relate to others is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.
6. Rewarding whining/tantrums by giving in—Nobody enjoys a temper tantrum. Not the audience, not the parents. I don’t know about the kids, but if their tears are a gauge, they’re probably unhappy, too.
When you give in to a kid’s tantrum, it is as if their screams and wails are being rewarded. And while your kid may not have enjoyed putting on that show just to get what he/she wants, knowing it works will certainly not stop him/her from pulling it off the next time your kid wants something.
7. Having low expectations—Another quote I often hear—“Low expectations lead to low results.”
It’s easy to attribute children’s negative behavior to their age or to a phase. But what if the time comes when age could no longer be used as an excuse?
The earlier we come to terms with the reality of our children’s behavior, the earlier we can start teaching them what is acceptable behavior and what is not.
Set the bar a little higher each time and before you know it, your children may even surprise you by behaving beyond your expectations.
8. Learning to say “yes”—Ton of books out there teaches parents how to say “No.”
Given how many times we should say “No,” remembering to say “Yes” almost feels like a distant memory. But children have feelings, too, and sometimes they need a little space to be able to do what they want so that they don’t end up rebelling against the rules, and to help get them through the other “no’s.”
A little “yes” once in a while, within reason, at the right time, can go a long way.