Wimpy parents, bratty kids

Parents who fail to set limits are raising a generation of brats, writes Martin Booe in the Memphis Flyer. He tells the story of a five-year-old boy at a mostly adult party. He starts by biting Booe, then goes for the window.

The youngster begins kicking the floor-to-ceiling window, which fortunately is made of Plexiglas. His father finally intervenes, taking the child by the arm and pointing out some of the window’s unique features. “You shouldn’t kick this window because it’s a very special window,” he tells his son. “See how the frame …” And I’m thinking, Kid, you shouldn’t kick the window because in another universe your father would have some vague concept of parental authority.

Then there’s a barbecue given by a professor named Donald John.

The party was underway when the sound of violin strings being plucked alerted him that something was amiss. Upon investigation, he found that the 6-year-old son of one of his guests had removed his grandfather’s antique Italian violin from its case.

. . . The boy began darting through the house, swinging the violin by its scroll, clipping it against walls and furniture as he led a merry chase. The mother declared that only she could defuse the situation, but each time she squared off against her son, he scurried into another room. “It turned into a hostage negotiation, but it was all appeasement,” John says. “She would offer him ice cream, and his eyes would light up for a second before he ran off again.”

By the time the violin was retrieved, its bridge and neck were damaged. “The perplexing thing is that some of these parents seem amused when their children do this sort of thing,” says John, the parent of two grown daughters. To avoid unruly children, John, a nonsmoker, requests the smoking section when dining in restaurants because he finds secondhand smoke less irritating than the kids in nonsmoking sections. (It was a child skateboarding in a restaurant lounge who tipped him over the edge.)

“The Me Generation is raising the Me-Me-Me Generation,” says educational psychologist Michele Borba.

Books on how to assert discipline are selling well, says Booe, so there are parents who see juvenile mayhem as a problem. Personally, I raised my daughter to be the sort of person I’d want to live with for 18 years. I frequently said (or shouted), I’m not raising you to be a brat!” It worked. I like her. Other people like her. She likes herself.

About Joanne


  1. I’m a soon-to-be-Dad, so my wife and I have been talking about this sort of thing a lot lately. It seems to us that:

    a) a lot parents today simply don’t understand that a child wants its parents approval and that simply showing your displeasure in something he/she is doing (ie. telling them NO) is a powerful parenting tool and there’s nothing cruel about it. And

    b) within reason, you have to keep doing what you were doing and bring the kids along, building your quality time that way.

    So I’ll throw this out to my fellow JJ addicts. Are we right or are we in for a shock?

  2. At what point was the mother informed of her liability for the cost of restoration of the violin? Even assuming that “antique Italian” does not equal “six figure Guarneri” the situation was utterly inexcusable.

  3. J Thomason says:

    To Scott – As a parent of a 4 year old and a 2 year old, I’m not sure what you make of your plans here. So I’ll leave give you what I think is the First Rule of good parenting: When you say no (or anything else), BACK IT UP!

    We try not to set too many rules, but we enforce those that we make quickly and consistently. There is nothing more irritating to me than when parents tell their children something once, twice, thrice, etc. and never get around to actually enforcing anything. My son gets told something once (twice if we are lazy). The funny thing is, he almost never needs to be told something more than that one time.

    Our daughter gets more leeway, being younger, but we are firming up with her as well, and surprizingly enough, she is well behaved for her age as well.

    We have never experienced the “terrible twos”. Our son has always been incredibly well mannered, though our daughter has been more trying.

    One final thought – don’t just “bring your kids along” with you while you “keep doing what you were doing”. In and of itself, that sounds like a disaster. If you are going to bring your kids with you, you will have to interact with them. Explain what you are doing as best you are able. Show them attention, because if you don’t they will find ways to get it that you most certainly won’t enjoy.

  4. J Thomason says:

    Oh, and Joanne, I have definitely used your line about not raising them to be brats. I’m not.

  5. I think you’re on target with (b), but you may be in for some reality orientation if you think a two year old really cares what you think about them. Once you set that up as your foundation, it will only become a greater challenge as they test their limits.

    Your chosen mode of discipline is only a tactical question. The strategic issue is who is in charge. Everybody, at every age, has to answer to somebody at some point in time, and you do them a disservice by aiding them in confusing independence with autonomy. Regardless of your approach, you’d better be sure that when the day is done, they know who’s running the show, and who is not.

  6. I suggest that you always make your first “no” effective. That is, you say, “Stop that,” and if your kid doesn’t obey quickly, physically stop him or her. After awhile, the kid will understand that when you say something is not going to happen, that’s the way it is. Resistance is futile. Also, never give in to nagging, whining and sulking, and your child will learn not to nag, whine and sulk. All kids are very smart that way.

  7. Scott,

    Ditto what J Thomason and Rev.Mike posted. By making clear rules and enforcing them, you will end up punishing your kids less and enjoying them more and so will everyone else.

    Think of small kids as you would a dog. You don’t explain to the dog WHY he should sit, you just make certain he understands that he MUST sit when you say so. Dogs and kids mostly want to do what will please you. You just have to make it crystal clear what that is and long explanations will have no effect on dogs or kids.

    Never say anything that you don’t back up. That just reinforces the notion that you don’t mean what you say. There has to be a consequence for bad behaviour and YOU will have to administer it.

    On the other hand, don’t nag them to death either.

  8. Scott,

    When your child misbehaves, deal with the behavior at once. Do not wait until it is convenient, or until Aunt Martha goes home. Very young children have a very different sense of time. If consequences are not immediate, they won’t connect the “punishment” with the “crime.”

    If you are fair, calm, and carry out your promises (not threats), your child will know how to gauge your guidelines for behavior. With most children, you only have to carry them, kicking and screaming bloody murder, out of a store or off a playground, once or twice, before they learn that you mean what you say. The corollary to this is to always promise consequences which you can enact, and have the guts to carry them out.

    In addition, don’t take your 3 year old to the movies, and don’t let your toddler wander through a restaurant unattended,

  9. My mother thinks we’re too strict with the kids. My mother-in-law thinks we’re not strict enough. Must’ve found the unhappy medium. Nobody’s happy about our disciplining methods.

  10. I always try to hide what must be a cross between a “smirk” (or downright laughter of disblief) and a “roll of the eyes” when I am at a place like Disneyland where a family has traveled far and spent significant $$ to hear a parent repeatedly threaten “if you don’t stop that this instant I’m going to take you home”. Yeah RIGHT Sure, and the kid knows that isn’t going to happen because of 2 things – 1) it probably has NEVER been followed up on before when previously threatened, so he knows it is meaningless and 2) what are the odds that after all the effort, money, time, and travel, his parents are REALLY going to throw all the afore mentioned out the window? NADA!!! Even more so because the parent keeps repeating “this is your “Xth” (or last) warning” or “for the last time I’m warning you” – all empty threats had the kid KNOWS IT!!!

    Rule #1 in business and parenting – NEVER make promises (or threats) that you can’t/won’t deliver on!!

  11. Ditto to making sure the kid understands that he must do as you say. You can certainly explain yourself, and you have to if the kid is to learn judgement without starting from square one, but that is secondary to getting their compliance to your directions. “Because I said so” is actually a valid reason. Also ditto to immediate consequences. And my kid did go through the terrible twos; it was a struggle, but her dad and I won.

    One really important rule: Say yes if you can. So if you say no, it will be an issue that you aren’t going to back down on anyway. Then do not permit whining and wheedling. “The answer is no, and do not ask again.” If you’re fairly nice about the first “no”, and occasionally back that up by telling your child that you like to please him but right now it isn’t possible, you’re not going to build up resentment like you will if your kid thinks you’re thwarting him just because you can.

  12. about negotiating –

    Ok Dad, I’m leaving, I’ll be back at midnight.

    Sorry, you need to be home by 11

    Awww Dad – NOBODY has to be back that early

    OK – 10:50

    Daaaaaad!!!! Everbody is out to at least 12


    BUT Daaaaaad – more whine



    OK – I’ll be home by 11

    Fine, have a good time, be smart and safe – see you by 11. Love ya.

  13. Scott–;”;that simply showing your displeasure in something he/she is doing (ie. telling them NO) is a powerful parenting tool”

    This is so sweet. Pissing off your parents is a very fun game for small children–it’s up to you to impress upon them that the game is NEVER worth it.

    Children are a great tool for learning intergrity–you must always do what you say you’re going to do. Thus, you don’t say that you will kill them. Pick your battles.

    Also–no, you can’t just do what you do with the kids in tow. They’re not accessories. You’re in charge of them and sometimes that means that you don’t get to listen to the concert, hear the news, or read the book.

    My kids are great–now. But my 13 year old daughter was so awful we just didn’t go out to eat with her and my husband is a chef.!

  14. Scott? I believe the answer you’re looking for is “shock”.

    In retrospect, I’m glad that we had our perfect child second. If the order were reversed, we’d have become such egotists that we’d have been unbearable around other parents.


    * Discipline is hard work. Not just saying no, but saying it again and again and again to some kids and backing it up with time, effort and diligence.

    * Kids do not all respond to the same kinds of discipline techniques. Prepare to expand your repertoire from just telling them “No”.

    * Define your expectations and limitations in advance and then stick with them. Never be inconsistent and expect kids to respect that. Rules are rules.

  15. I also frequently reminded my kids that they were having happy childhoods. My 17 year old (off for a year in Hungary–I get to brag somewhere!) claims to remember his own birth and that everything has been so much better after that.
    Scott- I trust we weren’t too hard on you but there’s something so sweet and touching about not-quite parents proclaiming their child rearing principles that makes one want to stomp all over them. You’ll look back and cringe.

  16. My wife (both of us are from the Far East) once summed up the essence of Oriental parenting:

    Children are to be spoiled till the age of 3, then they have no preferences of their own, till the age of 21. No bargaining with terrorists who want to destroy valuable property like violins. There should never be any question as to who is the authority and who is the child.

    Early interventions actually minimize disciplinary actions at later ages.

    It worked for thousands of years, continues to work — subject to minor tinkering — and will do so for the forseeable future, despite all the horror it arouses in our suburban neighbors.

  17. I’m with JJ (up to a point–not being raised Oriental, preferences are given more weight younger).

    Kid get what kid wants from birth to about 12 months, or when independent locomotion starts.

    12 months–start installing basic obedience (come, sit, stay–FREEZE! is an excellent command to instill early)

    and I am a big follower of Jim Fay’s (Love & Logic):

    RULE #1 Adults set firm limits in loving ways without anger, lecture, or threats.

    RULE #2 When a child causes a problem the adult hands it back in loving ways.

    In a loving way, the adult holds the child accountable for solving his/her problems in a way that does not make a problem for others.
    Children are offered choices with limits.
    Adults use enforceable statements.
    Adults provide delayed/extended consequences.
    The adult’s empathy is “locked in” before consequences are delivered.

  18. Wow, lots of responses. Thanks! And don’t worry about any of them being too harsh. I guess I’ll just have enjoy my son’s newborn phase while it lasts. They can sleep 12 hours at time right? 😉

  19. Steve LaBonne says:

    Actually 12 hours is the amount of sleep _you_ will get- per week. 😉

  20. For my first born, my wife kept saying “He’s supposed to sleep 12 hours a day!”

    I would say that’s a fantasy, except that the second one really did sleep 12 hours a day and was an easy baby.

    Hope you’re lucky Scott.

  21. The other night we went with another family to enjoy some ice cream. Here my children sat (18 and 12) conversing with the adults at the table, quietly enjoying their ice cream while our friends young (3 and 4) were running around the resturant. If you were to roll the clock back to my childerns time you would have seen them acting the same way as they were today. Sitting quietly at the table enjoying their ice cream and mayben even talking with their parents!
    I don’t really know how we did it, but my major rule was you are here to eat and not run around. You don’t get up and run around and bother other people. You don’t stand up on the seat, you don’t throw your tantrums here, etc. and we didn’t have scenes like at the parties we read about.
    I just set up some rules and stuck to them and there was no negotiation. Now when we get home, and its time to run and play, we ran and played and had fun.
    I suggest that you spend lots and lots and lots of time with your children. It will pass so fast and then they are living their own life and you will look around and wonder where the time went. You remember the good times and quickly forget the bad (unless you are teasing your son! because for some reason all those problems seem very funny today). I tried to spend as much time with my children as possible. They need your time and your love. And it does take a lot of time to rear children.

  22. I liked Booe’s airplane anecdote. I doubt I would have made the remarks his companion Maria did, but I would have (politely) asked the woman to keep the kid off of my seat. Jeez, it never ceases to amaze me how people are so utterly impolite in situations like that.

    Our family traveled to my wife’s native Costa Rica in 1995 when our daughter was a mere 1 and a half. On the way down, daughter was fantastic. On the way back, however, she was “rammy” as hell. We could have done what that woman did, to be sure. But, y’see, my wife and I have this thing for common courtesy. Our adjacent passenger neighbors didn’t pay their airfares to be annoyed incessantly by an upset baby. So, my wife and I took turns, when necessary, carrying our little daughter to the changing room bathroom until she calmed down enough to go back to our seats.

  23. “They can sleep 12 hours at time right?”

    No, they sleep 12 hours in 24. 15 minutes sleep, 15 minutes screaming, repeat 48 times a day. Or stay up all night and sleep all day.

  24. I don’t think I know ANYONE who admits or even realizes that they are a bad parent.

    People talk about these terrible unruly kids, but to hear the parents talk, they always stay stuff like “my kids are very well behaved.”

    I don’t mean to knock on anyone here, but I’ve yet to meet a parent that says, “yeah, my kids are horrible, don’t do what I did.”

    Most parents are incapable of judging themselves and their kids negatively.

    So my question is, how do you know if your kid is the kind of kids other people want to avoid?

  25. Scott,

    Having very recently given birth to a big baby girl, I can give you firsthand testimony to what the days are like:

    1. Wake up at 6:00 AM after two hours of sleep.
    2. Change diaper. (Note: this may need several repetitions over the next hour, or during feeding and after).
    3. Feed baby. Burp baby. Sometimes she’ll get hiccups and cry.
    4. Rock baby to sleep. This can sometimes take an hour. She will cry. Sometimes by the time she’s asleep, she needs to be fed again.
    5. Repeat cycle every 2-3 hours.
    6. In between the diaper-feed-sleep circuit, try to sleep. The longest stretch of sleep I’ve had for the last few weeks is 3 hours. It felt like heaven.
    7. Often the baby will cry for no reason. Walk her and cuddle her.

    A few tips:

    – Get a baby sling. I swear I put our baby in there and she’s asleep in minutes. Plus it will free you and your wife’s hands to get work done and to go for walks.
    – Get the book: _The Happiest Baby on the Block_. I have no financial interest in the book, but following the book’s advice has reduced crying time and increased sleep/calm time by loads. It’s been a lifesaver.

    Good luck. Babies are tons of work, but I can’t imagine I almost went through this life without having one. They’re the most amazing thing you’ll ever know.

  26. Whatever you think life will be like with a new baby, realize that you’re going to be wrong. I guarantee you’ll have things come along that you never anticipated.

    The secret to raising good children is expectations. Have high expectations, and stick with them.

    One of the best training tools for raising young children is to acquire and train a dog for obedience. See, Robin was right about children and pets having much in common, at least up to the age of 2 or 3. Sometimes I think my cats were smarter than my daughter when she was little. (I actually forgot myself once at the mall and yelled ‘Heel!’ when she took off. It’s funny now, but I was too embarassed to appreciate it at the time.)

    The point being, the key to training and obedience is clear goals and expectations of behavior, and consistency on your part. Both kids and pets are individuals, so the degree of effort required on your part may vary all over the place, since some respond to the smallest, subtle hint and others are apparently oblivious until you hit them over the heat (metaphorically, I hope).

    So for practice, get a dog and train it. It will take at leat 3 or 4 years to really judge your success. And unlike kids, if you fail you can always give a dog away…

    P.S. You can train cats, too. They require tremendously more patience and stubbornness on your part. I have trained 5 cats to a collar and leash, and one would sit and heel on command, as well as fetch. It’s possible. I just wonder sometimes why I really did it… Oh, I know! My daughter has been, on occasion, more trying than any pet I’ve ever had. Thank goodness she’s grown into a happy, polite, well-adjusted young girl. Now I’ve got puberty to look forward to –

  27. Roger Sweeny says:

    If your child says, “Daddy, can we do so-and-so?”, do NOT say, “Later” if you really mean, “No.” Very quickly, a child will learn that “later” doesn’t happen and will keep asking and asking, or will pester you with, “Now” or “Soon” or “Is it later yet?” And you will have ruined it for yourself when you really do mean later. If you can, be specific about when later is, “I have to do X and Y first” “We’ll do it when Mommy comes home.” “You’ll have to wait till tomorrow.” Or even “After your next birthday.” If they can understand, and there’s a reason, tell them. “It’s closed now.” “I’m really tired now.” (hey, you matter, too!)

    When you kids know they can trust what you say, and that you’re basically on their side, it makes a lot of things easier. Of course, they’ll try to push some anyway.

    Don’t worry that you won’t always feel loving. After a while, I realized how parents can shake their children so hard they cause brain damage. There were times I wanted to! Of course, you don’t. Though slapping a hand that has done something wrong is nothing to feel bad about–and sometimes gets the point across better than just words can (be sure to say what the hand did wrong.)


    Having worked in a junior high and high school, I have met plenty of parents who say, “There’s nothing I can do with him/her. He/she doesn’t listen to anything I say.” I suspect they were the ones saying for the 12th time, “If you don’t stop that, I’ll do Z. And this time I really mean it.”

  28. …a lot parents today simply don’t understand that a child wants its parents approval and that simply showing your displeasure in something he/she is doing (ie. telling them NO) is a powerful parenting tool…

    Hahaha! Kids LOVE that!

    Kids don’t give a rat’s ass about approval. What they want is a reaction, and they don’t care a whit whether it’s positive or negative. Forcing you to yell NO NO NO sixteen hours a day is a kid’s idea of a wonderful time. If you think “showing your displeasure” constitutes discipline, then any behavior you disapprove of becomes a “powerful tool” to control YOU. Even if you show your displeasure by inflicting painful physical punishment, the kid will always come back for more, until you give up the game in defeat. Kids are way tougher than anyone thinks!

    A child has neither mind nor conscience, so you can’t appeal to them; but a child is wily enough to use your own mind and conscience against you. Basically, you’re dealing with a sociopath who finds it easier to control you than to control himself. Set aside your mind, your conscience, and your wiles, because they are useless in dealing with a child.

    Lots of good advice on this thread. Get this book. Leave it on the shelf until your kid turns three; read it when you notice your kid is tyrannizing the household.

  29. My daughter is 11 and we have 7 year old boy/girl twins. When the 11 year old was about 3 we were having dinner in a restaurant. She decided to pitch a temper tantrum – shouting and throwing food. I grabbed her and got in her face and sternly told her that if she didn’t stop NOW she would have to wait in the car. She replied by screaming and throwing another hand full of french fries.

    I unbuckled her high chair, picked her up and walked out of the restaurant. I took her out to the car, and buckled her into her car seat. Then I got out of the car, closed the door and sat down on the bench near the door, where she could see me through the windshield. A minute later the door opened and our wattress, at my wife’s direction, walked out and handed me a styrofoam to-go container with my dinner in it.

    A few minutes later she brought me my drink and a free desert, complements of the manager.

    My daughter watched me eat and screamed her head off the entire time. My wife and the other restaurant patrons enjoyed a nice quiet meal, I enjoyed a slightly noiser meal and a nice sunset. My daughter learned that Daddy doesn’t make idle threats, and that cold french fries and chicken strips at home aren’t near as good as the warm ones in the restaurant.

    She has never acted up in a restaurant again. Unfortunately the twins wouldn’t believe her when she told them not to test Dad’s “Stop that or else…” Zach learned by being taken home from a birthday party only 20 minutes after arriving. Sarah got her tushy whacked in the grocery store in front of her grandparents and several other witnesses.

    So set limits and enforce them. But whatever you decide to do, make sure that they know that even though they are in trouble and being punished that you still love them.

    Don’t be afraid to use the word NO. Use it a lot. Your kids are going to hear that word their entire lives. Bankers, businessmen, bosses, spouses, friends and family are going to be telling them no. They need to learn how to deal with it. They need to learn that a NO is just a no. It doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. Its not the end of the world.

    When my daughter was 8 we were in a grocery store and she started badgering me for ice cream for desert. After several requests I abruptly told her “No, and don’t ask again!” Seeing several people looking at us she decided to try for some sympathy. So she hung her head and put on her best ‘poor-little-me face’. Immediately this lady started lecturing me on being more kind to my children and how I should distract her attention, or explain my reasoning to her.

    I turned to my daughter and asked a few questions:
    Me – Do you think we’ll have desert tonight? Mandy – I don’t know.
    Me – Am I mad at you?
    Mandy – No.
    Me – Are you going to ask for ice cream again today?
    Mandy – No.
    Me – Can you ask for ice cream again tomorrow?
    Mandy – Yes.
    Me – Are you going to ask again tomorrow?
    Mandy – Yes.
    Me – Do you think I’ll let you have ice cream tomorrow?
    Mandy – I don’t know.
    Me – If mommy has different desert fixed at home tonight will I let you have some?
    Mandy – Probably.
    Me – Do you still love me?
    Mandy – Yes.
    Me – Mandy, do I still love you?
    Mandy – Yes.
    Me – Are you ready to quit performing for this lady and go home?
    Mandy – Yes.
    And at that point she started smiling again, and we headed for the check out line.

    We all had pudding for desert that night.

  30. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this string! As a high school teacher, I will agree with the statement that we are raising a generation of brats. I have heard stories from colleagues who have had parents come in and say “I can’t control him either, sorry.”

    As a parent of ADD children, however, I have to be careful to differentiate between “childishness” and “foolishness.” A child who comes in the house with muddy shoes and walks across the carpet should not be punished the same as a child who throws a temper tantrum in the grocery store. The child with muddy shoes should have to help clean up the mess, the child throwing the tantrum should be, in my opinion, taken to the car and spanked. My kids while growing up did a lot of childish things, and I had to watch myself to make sure not to punish them as harshly as I did for the foolish things.

  31. One exacerbating factor is that you just aren’t allowed to discipline other people’s kids any more. Not long ago at our park, I removed *my* toddler’s sand shovel from the hand of a kid who was running around flinging rocks with it (his mom feebly protesting that he should stop). He was stunned that a stranger had taken something from him, but his mom was furious.

    A few years ago when my oldest was not yet completely civilized, she was squirming disruptively at mass and beginning to whine. Before I did anything, the elderly nun (a friend of mine) seated on her other side swatted her lightly on the thigh and said, sternly, “Be good!” Like the boy at the park, she was stunned at discipline coming from a non-parent, and was very, very good from then on. (BTW that was the beginning of a lovely friendship between the two of them….) But in Sister’s day, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, and nuns could act in loco parentis and assume the parents would stand behind them. Try it now.

  32. Just wanted to say thanks to all on here. I’ve got 4 between the ages of 2 and 7, and the tips you’ve presented should be very helpful. It’s so easy to be manipulated by them, particularly when in public, that I didn’t even realize some of what was taking place.

    So… Thanks!!!!

  33. Steve LaBonne says:

    I think Sharon just nailed a very big component of the problem.

  34. Sharon has a very good point. When I was 10 my grandfather and I were on an out of town trip. He gave me some change to get some candy with. Spotting a drug store across the steet, I glanced both directions and then ran across the street. Unfortunately my glance didn’t spot the car pulling out of the alleyway that had to slam on it’s brakes to avoid running me down.

    As I got to the far sidewalk, a total stranger grabbed my arm and started chewing me out about jay walking and looking before crossing the street. He lectured me long enough for the driver of the car to get out of his car. At this point the first stranger held me while the driver whacked my behind a few times.

    About the time he finished, my grandfather who had seen the whole things got there. He thanked the two men for their help, took back the change he had given me, and lectured me about how to cross the street all the way back to the car.

    I was a lot more careful about crossing the street after that. Unfortunately this was back in the 60s.

    Last weekend while at an outdoor wedding reception I stopped a boy who as going from table to table and flicking his fingers through the candle flames, which was splashing hot wax all over the rented tablecloths. I told him to stop it twice, the third time I grabbed his wrist as he reached for the candle, and told him very forcefully to leave the candles alone. As I let go of him and told him to go back to his parents table I was accosted by his very irrate mother.

    She was chewing me out for harrassing her son when her husband approached us and told her that the bride and groom had just asked them to either sit down and shut up or leave. She looked at me and snapped “now she what you’ve done.”

    Then she rounded on her husband wanting to know why they were being harassed like this. After all she was the groom’s cousin and I was just a friend of the bride’s family. They stomped away arguing among themselves and they never once entertained the idea that they had been singled out because their kid was acting like a brat and they were loud and obnoxious.

    As they walked away my 11 year old while shaking her head said “Scheeh, some peoples kids….”

  35. I seem to remember the mini-kerfluffle over Joanne posting the Zazoo condom ad a while back. It featured a little monster having a balls-out tantrum in the middle of the supermarket.

    I have to wonder how many people saw themselves as the uncontrolling parent for the first time (and how they looked to others) when that commericial aired.

  36. David: “a free desert, complements of the manager.”

    Hahaha! I’ll bet the manager was thrilled that somebody was actually controlling his child!

    The idea of parental disapproval functioning as discipline actually works with some kids. It will probably never be the only tool you have to use (until your child gets to be a teenager, then it may be the only one you really can). You probably have to get across the concept that parents are supposed to be in charge first, though, and that’s going to mean a more direct approach.

  37. Lots of good advice here, but one has to remember that there are no lessons that work for all children. It reminds me of a friend who was confiding to her doctor about how she attempted to be a strict disciplinarian for her son, and it seemed that she was *always* punishing him.

    His reply was that having he was one of the kids that would have been beaten to death a few centuries ago in a futile attempt to teach him manners. He just wasn’t meant to sit down and shut up.

    Eventually did okay for himself, but he still can’t sit down and shut up.

    Personally, I find people judge a child’s behaviour by the the parent’s reaction. A child causing trouble don’t seem to bother people much if the parents intervene appropriately.

  38. Something else that I did with my daughter that seems to help. As she got old enough to carry on a conversation, I would talk to her about WHY I made the decisions I did. It started as a response to the usual childish game of the endless string of ‘whys’; sort of a minor act of revenge on my part, I have to admit. But I found that by giving her serious answers, and explaining (in simple and age-appropriate terms, of course) just WHY she couldn’t have ice cream with chocolate just before bedtime, or WHY she had to hold onto my hand at the mall, or WHY she couldn’t play with certain objects in the house, or… You get the picture.

    But I have always made sure that the bottom line was this: “I am your mother, and I love you vey much. I might not always LIKE you, or the things you do. But I will always love you, and be there for you. And my job as your mother is to help you learn all the things you need to know to grow up and be a smart, successful, independent grown-up. When I make rules, they are to keep you safe or help you learn or help you grow as a person. My job is to help you grow up, and sometimes that’s not always as much fun as it is other times. There will probably be times that you are really angry at me, and even feel that you hate me. Sometimes I make mistakes, and if you ask nicely, without screaming or throwing a tantrum, and give me good reasons why I should change my mind, I will consider it. I may not change it, but I will consider it and I will tell you why or why not. But if you insist on acting like a baby, then you will be treated like a baby. I will trust you and believe you, until you show me that you can’t be trusted or believed. But no matter what, I will always love you.”

    I have repeated this, in various versions and incarnations, over the years. It seems to be working. I guess I won’t know for sure until she’s grown up and on her own.

    Oh, and just a quick note to those who bemoan the ‘terrible twos’: I never went through the ‘terrible twos’ with my daughter. She started throwing tantrums while she was still in the womb, kicking and pushing on my ribs and pummeling me from the inside out – you could see the outlines of her feet on my tummy as she kicked. After she was born, she would do the same, stiffening her legs and pushing with her whole body when she got frustrated. This continued up until about two. Then one day, Mommy had had enough. Mommy threw a tantrum just like hers, complete with screaming and yelling and laying on the floor kicking. She laughed herself silly. After that, all I had to do when she started to go into ‘tantrum mode’ was to start imitating her. Usually it resulted in laughter, ending it before it could start. Sometimes it made her furious, and she would clam up and cross her arms and pout. But no more tantrums. Now, it won’t necessarily work for every child. But at least it’s worth a try as one coping technique. She’s still volatile and flies off the handle easily, but no more tantrums.

  39. I agree with the comment that it’s really about who is
    in charge. My kids are 13 and 9, and I am consistently
    told by friends, relatives, people on the street,
    cashiers at stores, etc., that they are very
    well-behaved. They are certainly a pleasure to be
    around at least as often as I am, and I’m crazy about
    them, but we settled very early on that the parents are
    in charge, and we insist on that. (I also expect that
    we had less to do with how nice they are than we like
    to believe.) The downside to being in charge is that
    you actually have to act like an adult almost all the
    time, including being polite and respectful to your
    kids even when you are exhausted, and while my wife
    does this easily, I find it a bit of a strain
    sometimes. But the good thing is that my kids have made
    me more of a grownup, we really enjoy each other (we
    actually look forward to family vacations, for

    For the parents of small children, I have a “trick”
    that I read about somewhere, and it worked for me, so
    it might be worth your consideration. The trick is to
    establish dominance with a small child by holding them
    in your lap when they are misbehaving until they will
    listen to you and look at you. The first time you try
    this when they are really upset they will fight and
    scream and look anywhere but at you, but when they give
    in you do have their attention. The next time will be
    even worse, but then it may never be necessary to do it
    a third time. The advantage is that it works with kids
    too young for timeouts, although they have to be old
    enough to understand what is going on. It is essential
    to do this calmly and lovingly, and you have to be
    prepared for a long siege — with my youngest daughter
    the second “holding episode” lasted 4 1/2 hours and she
    was screaming during the bulk of it.

    I had to do this twice with my older daughter, and
    three times with the younger one, and from that point
    on, even though they were less than 2, they always
    cooperated. The nice thing about this is that it
    doesn’t involve any intimidation — what you are really
    establishing is that you have the patience to wait for
    them to listen to you. They weren’t in the least afraid
    of me afterward, and have never hesitated to disagree
    with me since, but they also accepted my authority when
    I felt the need to exert it. And the older they get the
    less often you need to exert authority — you can get
    by almost exclusively with suggestions and education,
    if you do decent job of instilling self-discipline when
    they are younger.

  40. Well I am 16 years old and my 2 sons and daughter are 3. If I’m in the store and my kids start throwing a tantrum infront of everyone I must say I tend to give in alot. But if my boyfriend is around they’ll listen and won’t start throwing their tantrum. I know what you meen when you say we’re raising a bratty generation and I agree.

    When I was younger my older brothers raised me, and I got everything and anything I wanted. (which i still do) If I wanted something and they said no i’d start crying and within the first few seconds they would give in. Before i turned 16 i told them i wanted a 2001 Lamborghini Diablo Selling Price: $179,900. Thats what i got sure enough. They pay for the payments,insurence, gas, and the many speeding ticket i’ve gotten. (Lets just say over 15 for the speeding tickets) And I’ve been 16 for about 6 almost 7 months.

    I know i was a little bratt and still am, but having my own kids i know how my brothers felt with me. It seems i do the same thing my brothers did with me. I’m trying to discipline them but they don’t take me seriously.

    Does anybody have any advice for me i would appreciate it


  1. Hube's Cube says:


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