As parents, none of us want to raise a brat. No one wants to have an entitled child or a spoiled child. So how do we achieve this? Because it can so easily happen.
If your child has ever been rude or ungrateful, or they’ve apparently overreacted to some small thing, you may have thought to yourself, am I raising a brat? I’ve certainly been there. And it’s probably the last thing you ever wanted.
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So how do we navigate this?
You might notice this as an attitude in your child – that the world is there to serve their needs.
But how does this work? Because we, as conscious parents, know that we’re meant to be meeting our children’s needs. When we meet their needs, children are truly happy, and they behave well, too. And we have a happy family.
So it is really important to meet their needs. But how do we not give the impression that the world is there to serve their needs?
It’s an interesting question. And there are a couple of areas I want to look at here, that will help you gain the awareness you need to navigate this dance.
#1 – Allow your child to experience disappointment.
Life has disappointments in it.
When we allow our children to experience disappointment and don’t feel the need to fix it straight away, they get the message that disappointment is normal, and they won’t feel that it’s so much of a problem.
Here are some examples.
Say one of your children has a birthday and you know that another child in the family is going to be disappointed…
Some parents have been tempted to give the other child a compensation present, or something similar. This isn’t a practice I would encourage because you’re not allowing your child to experience disappointment.
It could be other things. It could be allowing them to wait for things that they want. Or maybe they don’t get exactly what they want.
I’m not saying “Don’t be generous with your children!” It’s wonderful to be able to meet our children’s wants, as well as their needs. And modelling generosity is really important, so I don’t want to hold you back from being generous.
But just make sure that there are times when they have to wait or when they don’t get exactly the trainers they want, for example, so that disappointment becomes something they learn to negotiate through their childhood.
The important thing here is that it’s not just about getting or not getting things. It’s also about our inner okay-ness with that. I’m going to tell you a story that came up recently with a client to illustrate that…
She has a 10-year-old daughter who was drawing, and it was all going very well until, suddenly, she drew something wrong – and then scrunched up her paper and threw it across the room.
Now, at this point this mum felt she needed to go and fix things. She wanted to help her child not to have such a reaction to a little bit of her drawing going wrong – not to be so upset about it. She tried to talk her out of it and tell her the drawing was great – and that was only a little bit. And anyway, she could do another one.
This mum put a lot of energy into trying to fix it.
And this is something that comes a lot up a lot for us as parents. I feel it coming up in me when things go wrong for my son. But we need to be careful at this point about the message we’re communicating. When we launch in as Mr or Mrs Fix-It, we can so easily communicate that disappointment isn’t okay.
This is what I suggested to this mum:
“Say you’re writing something while she’s having her little wobbly over there. I would stop writing. I would look over to her and I would say, ‘Oh, it sounds like it’s really important for you to get that right. Is it? Yes. I get that. It’s important for me too, sometimes.’
“And then, get on with whatever you were doing, because then, you’re communicating that what happened is okay. It’s normal. And it takes all the energy out of the wobbly.
“In that moment, you’re with your child. You’re supporting them with empathy, but from a grounded place, with that teensiest bit of separation. It’s not a cold separation, it’s not a withdrawing, but it’s an acknowledgement that it’s theirs to deal with, with our support, and it’s not ours to fix.”
Allowing disappointment is the first area I want you to be aware of, if you don’t want to raise a brat. Now let’s move on to the second area.
#2 – Have you taken back your life since you became a parent?
In the early years, it’s so easy, and necessary in fact, for our lives to be totally taken over by our children. They really need that. And it’s natural that we sacrifice our needs for their needs.
But as children grow on and up, it’s really important that, at a certain moment, we take back our life. Again, it’s not about withdrawing from them, but it’s about saying, my life is important too. I’m important too. Because we are the significant other in our children’s life. If we don’t give them that message, who will?
Sometimes they won’t like it.
If you go to a yoga class in the evening, or you go away for a weekend, or you go out with a girlfriend, for instance, they may not like it, but it doesn’t mean that we’re pulling away energetically. We can still be really connected with them. We can still support them through the disappointment, but it’s a really important message to give to children – that we have a life too.
I don’t want to call it self care because you may think that it’s something you should do more of, and let’s get away from the ‘shoulds’.
No. I invite you to claim your sacred life and then share it with your child.
Remember some of the things that you used to love doing before children, or when you were a child, and bring them back into your life. Then share that beautiful, sacred life with your child.
This will help them realise that other people are important and that the world isn’t just there to serve them.
You’ll also be in a better place to meet those deep needs that are so important to meet in childhood, so that your child can show up as their best self and you can have your happy family.
I hope this has been helpful in highlighting two really significant areas for you to pay attention to, so that your child doesn’t become a brat.
If right now you’re feeling a bit worried about your child – maybe a little disconnected, feeling you’re not meeting those deeper needs – I have something really beautiful that will help you connect with your child, so that you felt empowered to take these steps.
It’s my Reset, Your Relationship with Your Child meditation.
I was talking to a mum about this the other day, and she told me that she uses it every now and again and it works like a charm, every time.
It will help you connect with your child so that you can develop a feeling of trust in their resilience, because we need to feel connected to children in order to be able to trust them and in order to be able to take our life back – and allow them to experience these little mini disappointments I mentioned.
The meditation is available for you to download. I recommend going there now and downloading it so you can do it tonight when your child is asleep. You may well find that you wake up tomorrow to a different child. It’s happened to me when I’ve done this meditation and to many others, as you’ll see on the page.
Solve the Struggle with Your Kids
The 6 Wise Parenting Powers
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