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7 Ways That Your Kid Is a Brat—And How Calm Parents Deal With It

Even the most angelic of kids can sometimes be a brat. Here, from the book 'Your Kid's a Brat and It's All Your Fault' is advice on the most annoying kid behaviors and how to deal with them.

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Your kid bosses you around

No matter how powerful we may be in our professional lives, the minute our child orders us to do this or that, most of us immediately obey. Because if we don’t, our child will get upset and then who knows what explosive outburst will happen. But even though agreeing may be the easy option, it’s not the wise thing for adults to do. Children, especially younger ones, look to their parents to be the authority figures. When your kid makes a demand, listen to what your child is saying, and respond appropriately. Initially, your child will not be pleased by the switch, but this is the way it needs to be—and will be—in the long run. Must read: This dad responded to his son’s request for extravagant gifts in the best way possible.

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Your kid whines

Whining is not only irritating and sanity-threatening, but it’s also incredibly persuasive behavior on your child’s part since a parent will do anything to Just. Make. It. Stop. No wonder it’s high up on the list of tools that younger kids use to get what they want. While you can’t force a child to stop whining, you can show them that it will not get them what they want which should ultimately shut it down. Remember: Don’t give in—ever. The minute you do, your kid will see that whining is effective and will start doing it again. Here’s why adults should stop whining too.

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Your kid screams in public

An indoor voice is a requirement of civil society—and something every child needs to learn at an early age. When younger kids’ demands are not met, they turn up the volume because it’s one of the few possibilities open to them. You can combat it with a game of Loud and Quiet. How to play: When you say “loud voice,” your kid gets to be loud; when you say “quiet voice,” she has to be quiet. Play it frequently but for brief amounts of time. Eventually, you can explain to her that different situations call for one or the other.

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Your kid throws a tantrum in the checkout line

Wanting to disappear in the middle of a grocery store because of deranged-child behavior is practically a parenting rite of passage. Tantrums are the last thing you want to hear and it’s often the first step to a full-blown meltdown. Ending this behavior takes work. Try to make sure your kid is well-rested and well-fed before you go to the store. Tell him that in advance that there will be no treat in the line, regardless of how big a fuss he makes. As you head toward the checkout, remind him again by telling him how great he’s doing by not asking for a treat. If he still demands candy near the register, well, you’re almost out of the store and away from the treats. Once again, don’t give in! It make take a couple of trips, but he will get the idea that the grocery store isn’t Candyland. These are common mistakes parents make with toddlers.

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Your kid will only do it one way

Perhaps she wants to wear the tutu-superhero mashup costume for the eleventh day in a row. Or she’ll only eat off one specific plate or drink out of one special cup. Going along with her wishes may seem the best approach, but in the long term this can hinder her growth. This kind of rigid behavior narrows her world and discourages flexibility—an important and necessary quality for her to cultivate. Next time she insists on her way, present her with several options. Let her choose from the alternatives instead of your choosing for her. By doing this you’re helping her navigate the transition from little kid to bigger kid, and you both will gain from this.

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Your kid is a picky eater

If it’s not a combo of carb and cheese (pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese) your kiddo won’t go near it. But as a parent, you have the responsibility to provide your child with nutritious meals, and you won’t be able to do that if you give in to bad eating habits. Changing this behavior will take time, but you must persist. When chowing down time comes, offer your kid a balanced meal. The worst thing that could happen is he refuses to eat it. That’s okay—there will be another meal in a couple of hours and lunch might look better to him come dinnertime. Warning: Do not let him fill up on snacks instead. A handful or two of goldfish will undermine everything you’re trying to do here, so resist the temptation of yielding to your child’s temptation. Here’s more advice on how to handle a picky eater.

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Your kid won’t share

It’s miiiiiine! If playdates with other kiddos (or even your brat’s own siblings) have become your own version of hell, please know that your child not wanting to share is perfectly normal; at early developmental stages, they are entirely focused on themselves. But part of growing up and living in the world with other people requires learning how to share so start teaching this behavior early. When you can sense that your child is about to start arguing over toys with a friend, say something like this: “You can play with the truck for a few minutes, then it’s Noah’s turn.” If she refuses to hand over the toy a few minutes later, do not try to cajole her to share. Simply take the truck away and hand it to Noah. Your child may cause a ruckus, so you’ll need to explain to her that while sharing is not always fun, taking turns is the right thing to do.

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So your kid’s a brat …

Parenting advice columnist Elaine Rose Glickman has gained her expertise through experience: Not only is she a former teacher, but she’s also the mother of three (non-bratty) children. In her helpful new book Your Kid’s a Brat and It’s All Your Fault (Tarcher/Perigee, 2016), she has tried-and-true solutions from toddler to tween.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest