Brat is a very specific word and I'm using it here specifically with intention. According to Webster, brat is defined as an ill-mannered, annoying child. Annoying. Ah...yes. Whether or not you like the word, I assure you every one of our children has been a brat at some point. With Pascal, bratty means niggly, pokey and especially mischievous behavior. Mostly...just...annoying.
And here's what I've learned. And this is pretty consistent.
The brat isn't bad. The brat is bored.
I learned this and continue to learn this through my own child. I'd say about every few months, obnoxious, bratty behavior rears it's ugly head. It takes me a day or two to figure out that he's annoying the hell out of me. And every single time I've been able to "fix" it. By challenging his mind. NOT the behavior.
[box] We know how much and how fast our kids' bodies grow. Their minds grow even faster and in bigger leaps. If your child is showing some bratty behavior, try to challenge her mind.[/box]
A few years back, I once worked with a mom who was going cah-razy with her son's mischievous behavior. She finally lost it when he pulled a bowl of un-gelled Jello out of the fridge. With that particular scenario, it all of sudden became clear to me: he wasn't being bad...he wanted to see what would happen. I suggested little experiments. A big hit with kids is mixing colors. You can do this with paint or food coloring in glasses of water. The ol' baking soda and vinegar exploding volcano never gets old. This mom was stoked in a short time. When she gave him things to do that occupied his need for "what happens if I..." his mischievous behavior all but disappeared.
For my son, most recently, this boosting up of challenge meant going from playing Uno to playing Rummy. This went from doing kids puzzles to doing brain teasers. From reading level 1 books, to reading level 2 and 3 books.
If your kid is driving you crazy take a good look around.
Especially those of you with 2 year olds. Oftentimes, their toys are just too babyish and they've grown out of them mentally. It might be time to move from board puzzles to easy jigsaws. If building blocks no longer hold attention, try Duplos or chunky Legos. If many toys just sing or light up at the touch of a button...move onto something with parts that require imagination or concentration. I have some other good ideas here, in a post about autonomy.
Oftentimes, I know as a parent we think "Oh, she still plays with that." Does she really? I don't mean go out and ditch all her toys and buy new ones. But look at how she plays with it. Is she really having a good time with it? If so, it's a keeper. If not, ditch it.
Incidentally, I have a cupboard I call purgatory in my head. I put old toys there to wait judgement. If 2 weeks go by and Pascal doesn't ask for it, it goes to Goodwill. When he was younger, I did a toy rotation. Put half the toys away in the basement or attic. Every couple of weeks, switch them out with the toys in the living area. It's like Christmas every few weeks. As Pascal's gotten older, we use this same concept but as a lending library. He can take one out but he's got to put one there in it's place. This keeps clutter down, yes. But more importantly it keeps boredom down.
I'm not claiming to know the answer to all behavior issues but this is a good place to start.
Challenge the mind. Not the behavior.