bratty kids

Solid Advice for Bratty Kids

The moment you held your baby for the first time was beautiful. It was a clean slate. As you projected into the future, all you could see were positive times ahead. You may have foreseen the typical problems in parenting, but you knew how you were going to handle it. The future was bright. You weren’t expecting your child to one day ignore your rules, show little respect for you or others, throw tantrums to get their way, and display a consistent attitude of entitlement and lack of gratitude.

As you experience consistent bad behavior, you may be concerned that you are raising a brat. Do you feel powerless as they slip out of control? In the middle of a battle, do you feel unsure of what to do? Are you at your wit’s end? You can turn that around by following a couple of easy principles. Here’s 4 pieces of advice for dealing with bratty kids.


A lack of consistency will bring confusion and anxiety for both of you. For younger kids, dos and don’ts are black and white. Do not be vague, ambiguous, or uncertain. You need to give them clear boundaries. “These are the things you can do and these are the things you can’t.” Have good and solid reasons for the boundaries you are setting. Work them out in your mind, write them down, and practice explaining them. That doesn’t matter as much when kids are young but will as they get older. Boundaries need to be held consistently. In other words, you always have to be on your game. Every minute of every day is an opportunity to mold and shape a child’s attitude.

Consequences and Explanations

Reinforce the boundaries you set with consequences. Never threaten them with a consequence you will not follow through on. If you say you are going to take something away, cancel a fun trip, or administer a spanking, then you need to be ready to do it. I would say, you need to almost welcome it. The moment they cross the line, enforce the warning. Be quick, decisive, and calm. If they throw a tantrum or speak to you disrespectfully, add another consequence. They need to know that you will follow through on everything you say. You are doing more than punishing bad attitudes and behavior. You are showing them that you are trustworthy which will actually make them feel more secure. Then give them an explanation of why they are receiving a consequence so it is understood clearly. Have them repeat back to you what they heard so you can clarify further if need be.

Practice Appropriate Behavior

If they have treated anyone, particularly adults, with rudeness or disrespect, practice with them. Teach them how they are to act when meeting an adult. Show them proper eye contact, manners, what to say and what not to say. Then have them practice. If they ask you for something and don’t say, “please”, make them ask again or simply deny the request. If they don’t say “thank you” when giving them dessert, or perhaps dinner, don’t give it to them until they do.

Personal Responsibility

Make them earn toys and money rather than just giving it to them. Use them as a reward system for good attitudes, noble treatment of others, and chores completed. Don’t give an allowance that hasn’t been earned in some way. The only thing it will create is a sense of entitlement. Create a checklist of things they need to do to earn money or things. You are teaching them practical things that will help them in the real world. If they do not display a strong work ethic, appropriate manners, and a grateful attitude, they will not be hired for a job or promoted within a company.

Sound Off

What do you do when your child is disrespectful?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Lisa Johnson

    Any advice on when one parent follows through and the other doesn’t? My husband and I have been arguing lately because I’ll say “If you don’t do ________ you’re going to get a spanking” they don’t do it and
    He’ll say “go to your room, I’ll be in in a second to spank you”– to me, this puts the spanking on his shoulders… Except he next to never follows through! I feel that it does 2 main things– 1 it undermines MY authority because what I said wasn’t done and it tells the kids that HE isn’t on my side because he didn’t help follow through even tho he said he would and 2 like you pointed out, it doesn’t help them grow to trust him. We have a daughter that will be 4 in a few days and she’s become a MONSTER. I think the vast majority of the reason is because she’s learning quickly that Papa isn’t going to make her do as she’s told. I am a stay at home mom and during the day if she has a temper tantrum, it’s very short lived and most of the time I just have to point out “Has that kind of fit ever gotten you what you wanted?” she’ll say no and stop. Dad comes home and she’ll start a fit, he tells her to stop, she doesn’t. He says “stop or I’ll spank you” she doesn’t… And neither does he! He has even gone so far as to tell the other kids to “give her what she wants… She’s crying” like crying is a valid reason for them to give in to her!
    I’m going to share this article with him and have a looooooooooong discussion about discipline but do you have any advice on what I should say or how to bring it up? I don’t want him to feel like I’m criticizing his parenting in general.

    • BJ_Foster

      Sorry I missed your comment Lisa! How are things going? Have there been any improvements? I think sharing the article was probably a good way to bring it up. Saying, “I came across this article today and was evaluating how we are doing things. How do you think we are doing?” Let him evaluate and see where the conversation goes. You could also suggest that you don’t think the spanking threat is working anymore and the two of you need to use some other consequences. Look at these: They may be some ideas to try to change the game. If your husband is not following through then a couple of minutes after the threat is given remind him to go do it. You could say, “Ok let’s go to (your daughter’s) room, give her a spanking, and talk to her about it.” It’s important to give them the consequence, follow through, and then have a conversation to close off the incident. During that conversation you should have your daughter explain why she received the consequence so you know she understands. Then make sure she knows that she is forgiven. So if your husband isn’t following through then grab him and say, “Let’s go do this.”

      • seth

        Hi, I may sort of be just someone new at this but my daughterz 5 and 3 always listen when asked to do something. How I personally handled an episode is I cut straight to the point no questions asked if they argue they simply get punished most of the time a toy taken away. I have very little issues with behavior and I strongly feel it has been the most obvious thing to me…I ask myself what is the most valuable thing to any one and the answer is time… I use their time as punishment…not always a time out but I use their time and then they cannot play.

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Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What does it mean to be respectful?”

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “How do you feel when you see one of your friends acting like a brat?”

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