How to not raise a brat

Many people (and some wacky parenting “experts”) would say that is our job as parents to raise happy, intelligent children. After having raised 4, and helping with 8 grandkids, and all the reading I did as they were all growing up, I have to strongly disagree.

Actually, if you think your job is to raise happy children, you will probably end up frazzled, stressed and miserable.  See: 10 steps to a happier mama

And your kids will very likely be brats.

10 ways to not raise a brat
I know some of you may disagree, but hear me out.

After coming out on the other side, and not unscathed, I believe instead that our job as parents is to raise mature, responsible, well-rounded adults. And you typically would not get a mature well-rounded responsible adult if your daily goal was to make sure your child is happy.

While a happy child would be nice, children need to learn how to live in a real world. They need to learn that life is demanding and hard, and definitely not always fair.

10 ways to not raise a brat:

  1. Don’t call them more than once in the morning to wake up for school. Or make them set their own alarm clock.
  2. Stop doing their laundry.
  3. Make them clean up behind themselves or confiscate their stuff.
  4. Expect them to help get dinner on the table, and to clean up afterwards.
  5. Don’t buy them a “treat” every time you go shopping, etc.
  6. Teach them how to be responsible for their own school work and make them be accountable.
  7. Don’t allow or reward whining by giving in.
  8. As often as possible, allow natural consequences to happen. Don’t intervene. They can be some of the best teachers.
  9. Teach them to be independent at an early age, and continue to let them mature into further independence.
  10. While you should love your child, and let them know you are there for them as they grow, do not baby them. At age 3 or age 13. That makes for an awful 21 year old who feels entitled to everything and won’t get a job or consider moving out and being responsible for themselves.

Obviously this needs to be age relevant. I am not suggesting that you expect a 4 year old to do his laundry. However, he can learn to fix his own peanut butter & jelly sandwich, empty wastebaskets or help you sort the laundry.
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I have had more of a tendency to baby my youngest (go figure) and now that she is out on her own, she is having to learn some things the hard way because of my sheltering. I am still there for her, and I will guide her, but I refuse to jump in and always save the day (most of the time).

My oldest daughter has 6 children and she has worked hard to teach her children to be independent from a young age. And she has also taught the older ones to help the younger ones. On one hand, it makes for a little more chaos in their home, but on the other, my daughter is not trying to do everything herself, and her kids are learning to be responsible and think more like a maturing adult would, and not an impetuous teenager.

So, what shall it be? A “happy kid”, or a well-rounded adult?

Edited: Came across a GREAT book on this subject! Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement

131 comments to How to not raise a brat

  • emi

    I totally agree with you. As a single mom, my guys have to help. At 11 and 13, they get up on their own, make their own lunch, help with all the household chores and can cook independently. The time I have shared with them teaching them these skills has given as a special bond and makes me so proud of them

    • Bernice

      Very good! You need their help and they need to learn to help. Thank goodness you are not being a martyr. 🙂

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  • Absolutely. I think people forget that the end goal in parenting is not to raise your kids to be great kids, it’s to raise them to be great ADULTS. We’ve often gotten chided for expecting too much from our kids (they do a LOT of chores), but it also amazes people that they’re even able to do most of the tasks we set for them. With training and supervision, kids so astonishingly more competent that most folks give them credit for. Low expectations lead to low results.

    • Bernice

      “Low expectations lead to low results”.
      I love that, it is SO true! There was a 6 year gap between our first and second child and then we had 2 more, and gained a very different outlook on child-rearing with the last 3. Thank goodness our oldest was resilient and smart, lol! She is a fine woman and mom now!

  • I quite often tell my four boys it is not my job to make you happy. You control how you think and feel, not me. I am here for you, I love you, I will look after as needed but I do not choose your emotions, you do.

    Not quite the same as your lesson but it is something I learnt early on, that trying to keep 4 very different boys happy all the time is just too much for one mama. Their wife can try, but then again, it still isn’t her responsibility to make them happy either. Happiness IME is something we choose for ourselves, not what is created for us.

    Best wishes
    Jen in Oz

    • I was thinking the same thing when I read those first paragraphs! We can try to make them happy (although that is not the mail goal), but in the end they are responsible for their own feelings. When I, as a mother, let my emotions be controlled by the emotions of my children, I will never be happy. They are responsible for their own happiness, and I am responsible for mine.

  • Your list is perfect! I have five kids, ages 21 yrs to 16 yrs. My mantra has been, “make your kids the most important thing in your life Without lettin them know it.” by that I mean they have responsibilities and expectations, but they are always deeply loved. My kids start doing their own laundry at age 10!

  • susan howe

    I wanted to shout “AMEN” when I read this blog and was so pleased to see the positive comments about it. I work with children and every day I see the best and the worst of parenting. There seems to be a growing trend to allowing children to run the show, usually at the expense of others. While my own parenting is far from perfect, I am proud to say that my now 18 year old son is a caring, responsible, well-mannered young man. My wonderful mother-in-law (and dear friend) gave me some great advice years ago. She told me, “Remember, your children came to live with you.” And my own mother told me to “raise up a child that I would want to be around, and others will too”. They were both right. I watch what some parents tolerate and wonder how they can stand their own kids! If the entire office, or store, or concert…is thrilled when you leave, how can you deal with that behavior 7/24, and why would you? Thanks for some much-needed common sense!

  • Angie

    I wish this handout was given at the hospital when parents take their new babies home. I am constantly amazed at how many bratty kids there are out there when I’m out with my 2-year old. I think people figure that if you’re teaching your child how to be a valuable member of society, you can’t be a loving parent at the same time, when actually the two go hand-in-hand.

    I’m proud that my son knows how to say please, and now we’re working on thank-yous. He loves giving me high-fives when he remembers his manners. By starting to teach your children at young age, they never know any different.

  • Pat Brady

    My children are in their 40’s and were raised as you described. I have often thought maybe I could have been a better mother if I had done more for them. However, all four turned out very well, graduated from college, and have raised excellent children of their own. I guess that’s the measure of success as a mom. Plus they all still speak to me. lol

  • Miranda

    WOW! It is SO refreshing to see that others feel the same way that I do about parenting!!!
    My husband and I are blessed with four children ages 9-14 and I expected much more out of my children, from a young age, than most of my friends did. I still get comments from friends because I don’t help with homework (unless directly asked), I don’t “ride them” about picking up after themselves or doing their laundry….I just confiscate whatever they leave lying around (sometimes donating it to Goodwill or charity). I don’t wake them up, they all have alarm clocks. By following all of the rules that you posted, among others, I have four kids who are capable, mature, respectful and APPRECIATIVE of all that they have. I think that their gratitude for the little things is what makes it most worth it right now.
    I really hope that mine turn out like your children did…happy, well-rounded and repeating the cycle. It is such a blessing to ENJOY our kids.

  • Me and my two older brothers were raised (almost) just like this. We didn’t have a lot of money, so my parents rarely bought us treats at the store. (If they did, it was usually something like, “pick out a breakfast cereal that I can buy with this coupon”)I don’t remember how my parents were with my brothers, they’re 7 & 8 years older than I am. But because of them, and because I’m the only girl, I was very independent as a child. I liked doing things on my own, and was pretty self-motivated with homework. My mom had to work full time starting when I was about 5, so we didn’t have someone doing everything for us and picking up our messes. The only thing I regret is that at the age of 11 I requested my own alarm clock, even though I was good at waking up on my own, and now I can’t wake up without one!

    The benefits of growing up that way are incredible. I don’t resent my parents for not giving me everything I wanted–in fact, I don’t really remember wanting that much. I don’t feel like they didn’t love me, or stifled my personality. They encouraged me to be my own person, a person that wasn’t a whiny, dependent, brat.

    • Nicole

      @Katie – your response made me LOL. My mom did the exact same thing with me and my sisters – no treats at the store, no toys, etc. but we could pick out our cereal if she had a coupon 🙂
      Also, Friday nights we each got to have a grape or orange soda (non-caffeinated – my mom is also a dietitian)while watching TGIF cartoons (where did those go?!?) if we were good and did our respective chores. I am not a parent yet, so I can’t judge what others around me do, but I can say that my mother gave me an excellent example.

    • Kelsey

      Oh my gosh, I totally agree with the coupon thing. I was ever so excited when my mom was like “Hey, Kelsey, it’s a coupon for 10 yogurts. Pick five.” I also did my own laundry from nine years old and on, and my brother’s seven years older than I am.
      I will admit my mom woke me up every school day from kindergarten onward until I went to college and had to learn to wake myself up – however my mom was sick a lot when I was little and it was one of the few things she could do for me every day and it worked for us. I never had any trouble transitioning.
      I grew up with a lot of responsibility because of my mom’s illness – it always worked for me.

  • Good read, Bernice. Like Susan Howe in the June 8 reply, I too work with children everyday & sadly witness a fair amount of bratty, inconsiderate behavior daily. If it happens in public, you know it has to be happening & tolerated at home.

    I appreciate what you’re saying about the parents responsibility isn’t to have happy and intelligent kids, but to work toward developing well rounded, mature ADULTS.

    Lastly, I witness regularly what my co-workers and I describe as “helicopter parents”, you know, the ones who continually hover over their child. That is so detrimental in that momma or papa zoom in & immediately “take up” for their child. I hate it when that sort of parent thinks their precious darling would NEVER misbehave (i.e. lie, exaggerate certain facts or plain misbehave) & immediately blame everyone else & not making their child accountable. I guess that would be a reference to number 6 in the above mentioned 10 Ways Not To Raise A Brat list.

    Thanks for the really good suggestions and for making it short and sweet.

  • I have a little one, 2.5, so I don’t have the benefit of time to find out if what we are teaching will work, but I agree with everything you’ve said here!

  • Cynthia

    Love it and completely agree. My mom raised us this way and while everyone has brattish moments 🙂 All four of us was independent and self-sufficient. I work with college students and I am amazed at the parents trying to step in and fight their kids’ battles. I am also amazed at how learning disabilities or problems are also catastrophic to these young adults. My mom died during a summer semester and I still got an A in that class, my sister took an exam the day before the funeral. We were raised that life throws you punches and you have to roll with them. My mom would have kicked my butt if I would have just dropped the ball over a funeral. I’ve had students use a death of a great aunt the year before as the reason they couldn’t pass their current class. Loved your article! Very truthful!

    • Megan

      I, too, work with college students (residence hall director–eek!), and every single day I have to have conversations with students about being mature, being independent, being courteous, being tolerant, being clean, being respectful…all things that their parents could have taught in those 18 years of chances! I think every young adult should work in student life and development for a few years after graduating college–you see firsthand the result of helicoptering and babying your children. Maybe that would nip some of this ridiculousness in the bud!

    • Anna

      I recently graduated from college and LIVED with several other students at one point or another who had clearly been babied/ raised without much responsibility. It is so frustrating to live with another adult and yet feel as though you are living with a small child. I had one roommate who couldn’t make coffee, even after I showed her 10+ times, consistently woke the rest of us up because she was “stressed” and didn’t know how to cope, didn’t clean, do laundry, or even maintain basic hygiene… the list goes on. I was baffled until I met her mother, who insisted that her daughter shouldn’t be “responsible” for remembering to pay her rent and that we as her roommates should remind her and help her write the check every month (seriously.) This is an extreme example, but it goes to show you that it cripples your children to fail to instill a sense of responsibility and the importance of maturity.

  • Jill

    LOVE THIS! As a mother of 2 and an elementary teacher it is really hard to watch parents do everything for their kids when they can really do so much for themselves. Sometimes I feel like I should do more for my kids or that I’m being lazy because I don’t do things for them that other moms do for their kids but how will they ever learn if I do it all for them? Thanks for sharing your expertise!

  • Holley

    Amen, sister.

  • J.S.

    Hallelujia! I especially like #10. I have a brother who is 21 and I think you are 100% describing him! Won’t take responsibility and blames the world for his failures and mistakes. My mom always babied him. I’m trying to raise my kids (5 & 8) to be independent and figure things out on their own. Even at the playground when they seem “stuck” and ask me to come rescue them, I get looks from other parents when I tell my kid to look around and figure it out. I think the other parents think I’m just lazy. (obviously if they were in danger I would certainly help them.) But after a few minutes of them trying and figuring it out on their own, they are proud of them selves for finding a solution to their own problem. I also try not to be a helicopter parent. When we go to the Dr. for a check up, I let the kids answer the questions the Dr. asks, so they learn not rely on me for everything, and know that they are capable of conversation. My kids also help around the house, have chores, help with laundry & dishes, and now that we’re expecting #3 in just over 6 weeks, they are happy to help mom even more with the things I have difficulty doing with a big ‘ol belly. My in laws think we expect to much of our kids, I think we’re raising them not to be self-centered, whiny, helpless people.

    • Tori

      J.S., I’m so thrilled you put that other parents think you’re lazy. I get the same looks, my daughter is scared of everything and I just tell her to try and to figure it out. Me helping her will not get her to overcome her fears where as my mother in law who has the best of intentions babies her to the extreme. I’ve had to have multiple conversations requesting her to not hover so much! So glad I was able to see other parents perspectives!

  • Ragan

    I cant help but TOTALLY agree with everything you had to say. I’ve always felt this way about child rearing and I’m only 25. Kids will come soon enough since I just recently married but they will NOT come in the form of a “brat.” 😉 I have always noticed and picked up on children behavior types and there is a huge difference between the ones who are babied and the ones who are not. I have met 3 year olds that can have an adult-like conversation with you. I have also met 5 year olds who still ask for their “bah-bah” (bottle). Its crazy what a difference it makes. I will definitely be using 1-10 as my guideline! Thanks for the article!

    • Heather

      I’m in the same boat as you. No children yet for me and my hubby yet, either, but are thinking of starting soon. Me and my husband were raised rather differently. My mom pretty much did everything listed 1-10. My husband was basically babied, partly because he was the only child. When his mother became really ill, he had to switch roles and take care of her. He wishes he had been raised from the start on how to take care of everything, so that’s what we plan to do with our children.

  • I agree with everything you said, except that you are not raising happy kids, this is the only way to raise a happy child!!! I am the mother of four, the grandmother of seven the great granny of sixteen, a ministers wife for fifty odd years so believe me I know.

  • deja

    I know everyone will hate me but i disagree. We don’t do #1,7,8 and I don’t do #10. My sister is 17, just graduated high school, got accepted into every university she applied to, just bought her fist car with he rown money, is working, is in the process of getting her own apartment, and is very independent. I just turned 16 on monday. I have one more year of high school because I am graduating early and skipping my junior year. I have a 4.0 GPA and am in the top 10% of my class. We have both been athletes all of our lives and I think that playing sports is a big part of teaching your kids how to be responsible and independent. All of our teachers, family members, coaches, friend’s parents, etc. all have told my mom how well she has raised us. Just because you have happy children and don’t follow this list, it doesn’t mean your children won’t turn out to be wonderful adults.

    • Merri

      The question is how will you both do 100% on your own, in college and/or after? How will you get up in time for class? How will you set your schedule? Who’s gonna clean your room/apartment? All these things can be learned as an adult but it’s harder and more painful to do so. You don’t want to be running to mommy and daddy as soon as life gets real.

    • Anna

      Obviously there are a lot of factors that are important in parenting (particularly the personality of the child— some children are just naturally more inclined to be responsible). No parenting advice is going to apply to every person every time. That being said, I think it is very possible to be well-adjusted, successful, and happy AND be entitled (sometimes the most intelligent, successful, well-adjusted individuals are the most entitled!)

      Also, I agree with Merri— being on your own, especially financially on your own without the parents to pay for tuition or rent, is more telling than living at home 🙂

  • melissa

    I am so thrilled to see I am not the only person who feels this way! This is how I was raised. I have a 14yr old step daughter who has not clue to how to do things on her own. I have tried to teach her to get up on her own, do her laundry, help with dinner and clean up and she has daily and weekend chores! This is a constant struggle with her! She does not say please or thank you, she doesnt hold doors for others, and has no basic manners! I now have a 10 mo old son & I REFUSE to have him see this and behave in this manner! My husband always says that he will be no different, but I truly believe that if you start at a young age then you will have an amazing adult someday!!

  • I love this list! These are the things I do with my kids. I have four: 11, 10, 3, and 1. The awesome thing is, when you do this – you teach them to empower themselves rather than feel like they are entitled to everything.

    Empowerment then leads to happiness.

    So – really, this list is how to raise a truly happy kid. One that is independent and self-assured. When kids are feeling confident (rather than whiny and entitled) everyone benefits. the entire family will be happy!

  • Laura

    I totally agree with you, there are way too many brats out there these days & it seems to be getting worse ! My son is now 31, and I bought him up near enough to your list, I was always fair & explained & talked things through so he would know why certain things or ways were not acceptable, tho I must say I certainly wasn’t as strict as my parents were with me! A lot of his friends were bought up differently, & when we used to go out I would always get compliments on how well my son behaved, where as most of my friends would get disgusted looks on the behavior of their children. My son was and still is a lovely happy, polite person, always pleased to help out where he can, and has an amazing job overseas. Best of all we have always got on really well, and can talk about anything.

  • Kw

    Yes! Yes! Yes. Yes. Yes. I can’t even explain to you how much I agree with this list! I find myself frequently saying “Be a problem solver!” I’m not always going to be there to find your ____, fix your ____ , etc. Independence is key! Great article.

  • Christen

    I agree and think this is a great list, and try to do all these things. I have 3 and 1 year old boys. I still feel like they’re kind of “brats”, though, in spite of trying to prevent it. There is just a lot of whining and arguing that comes with everything they do, especially the 3yo. How much of it is an age thing or not? We discipline and instruct and all that, but the whining, crying, arguing keeps coming! Any thoughts from you seasoned moms?

    • Christine

      I think it’s definitely an age thing – especially at 3. He’s realised he has language and power. The trick now is to use YOUR language and maturity to get him to understand that the whining, crying and arguing will not get the desired results.

      My OH and I have 6 kids between us. I have 4 girls (24, 21, 11 and 8) and I subscribe to the parenting style outlined in the article. When we are out and they ask for something I consider the request and say yes or no (based on whatever is happening at the time) My kids KNOW that they ask, I answer, end of story. My OH has two – girl 13 and boy 10. When we are ALL out together they will ask “can we get a slushie?” We say no. His (and know mine dammit) will start to whine and carry on and just repeat the request louder and louder and HE stops and buys it. So, his have learnt – whine and complain and whinge and get rewarded.

      So, tell them upfront – even at age 3 – don’t whine, ask once, I will answer and that is the end – and do not EVER waver – once you answer don’t turn around and do it to stop the whining.

  • Grandma Biggy

    I have to say I raised my kids the way my mother did me, which was that she would take care of “her work,” and I would take care of “mine.” Although I pitched in, I actually didn’t have chores. I was pretty much assigned — nothing. It was simply expected. Never once was I asked, “Did you do your homework?” My children, like me, got jobs at 14. I remember asking my mother, “What time is my curfew?” She replied, “If you are not smart enough to figure out when you should be home, you are not old enough to go out on your own.” Every body went to college, got good grades, got good jobs, married super people, all of them go to church. So there you are: different strokes for different folks. Or maybe just a different way to communicate the same ideas.

  • I so totally agree with you. There was no question when I was raising my children that this was the responsible way to raise children. All four of mine are in their thirties now and I am proud of each of them.
    I hope many young parents listen to your wise advice. .

  • Being an Early Childhood Teacher I see these types of kids all the time. Sad. Parents do EVERYTHING for them, they have no independence, no coping mechanisms for when things don’t go their way and an inflated sense of entitlement. It’s so sad.

  • Amanda

    I couldn’t agree with you more 🙂 They might not always be happy about certain things when they are young, however I am sure they will grow up to be very happy that they were raised the way that they were and happy to know how to do the same with thier children!! I see it as a vicious cycle, parents seem to bring thier children up similar to how they were raised, there are so many entitled, mean, plain bratty children and it all boils down to the parents, who 9 times out of 10 were brought up that way as well. Let’s start raising well rounded kids parent’s!! After all they are the future!

  • Sara

    I think it all depends on your goals. Responsibility and maturity come with time. My goal is not for happy-my goal and my job is for loving, caring, respectful, creative, thoughtful, well-rounded people. I do this by setting limits with empathy, respecting them as a person, treating them how I like to be treated. As a family we help each other, work together and don’t force or demand. And you know what? We have fun, we are peaceful, we love each other and my girls have empathy. They know their voice is heard and that they matter

  • My mom and dad spoiled my sister and I, but not in ways one might think. We definitely still did our own chores, took turns doing the family’s laundry and made our beds every day. We had jobs in the summer and had to review the utility bill with my dad who always made us turn every light off in the house before we left. My mom always made dinner but we always cleaned up after. Little things like that made me really thankful that they let me experience this stuff on my own.

    A year ago, my mom, dad and sister passed away in an accident and I really wish I would’ve taken more time to learn my moms recipes, cleaning tips, and pick my dads brain about business and dealing with finances. You really do help your kids out more than you know when you teach them these kinds of things. You never know when you may not be there to help them anymore.

  • Catherine

    I never rewarded my kids for whining! The biggest mistake parents can make, without a doubt.

  • Amber

    I agree with 3,5,7,8, 9 and 10. The reason I don’t agree with some of them is that kids should be allowed to be kids and have fun too. I agree with Chores but don’t agree with going overboard and treating kids like little adults because they aren’t adults. Also when it comes to the school work you have to stay on top of some kids because while yes they should have to learn their lesson if they fail to turn something in guess who also gets into trouble legally in many states…thats right the parent. So yes as parents thanks to the government you can’t parent in certain ways without facing a judge. It sucks but just is the reality of life which you stated kids need to learn about. Life isn’t fair and life is hard work but life is also fun and exciting too and kids have to learn to balance life they have to know that they can enjoy life and have fun but also know when its time to be serious. Someone who is always serious, always obsessed with doing things exactly right in life and pinpoints every little mistake thinking its a lesson moment those kind of adults make the world an even harder place. You have to teach kids balance. Don’t give in to their every want but make sure they do get to have surprising fun moments where they just get to go a little crazy and have some fun. I have cousins raised in strict chore homes who rebelled as adults they refuse to do anything now and use their adult years to party while I wasn’t raised in that strict chore home and I have had my party phase at 21 then had my kids and feel I am ready to be an adult and hate having to rely on others.

  • Jen

    Could not agree more. As a single mom I have committed to raising a son that will know how to cook, clean, sew (simply) and do minor household repairs before he leaves my house. And be a respectful and kind contributing member of society. I’m so sick of people in this society with ‘entitlement complexes’ – seems somewhere along the way we lost the concept that with all these ‘rights’ come ‘responsibilities’. My son is 4 and already helps with laundry, makes his bed and helps tidy up his mess.

  • Kathie

    Why not just send them off to Boarding School and bring them back when they are legally adults? That way you won’t have to cook, clean up after them, educate them etc. I raised both my sons with the Happy method and both can cook, clean, sew, do laundry, and all because I included them in those activities not imposed them as chores that must be done or else. And yes, I babied them and still do and they have turned out to be very well rounded adults thank you very much.

    • cjp

      I sometimes wonder if the kids that have that sense of entitlement don’t instead come from homes where the parents are quick to label a child they’ve seen act out once in the grocery store as a “brat”. Of course children should be raised with opportunities to grow their independence. It doesn’t mean they aren’t well rounded kids if they don’t make their beds in the morning!

    • I totally agree with simply including your kids in the chores, rather than turning your home into a prison sentence. Mom’s shouldn’t be so quick to jump on the over-the-top discipline bandwagon that they lose sight of how simple and natural “work” can be. Just because your 3-year-old can’t do a full load of laundry doesn’t mean they are doomed to a failed future! This reminds me of how many parents now are insisting you can and should teach a 2 or 3-year-old to read. As long as you are making sure your kids are responsible for an amount of work and obedience appropriate for their age, they are going to turn out great. We should not be too quick to judge a child as a brat because they resist hard labor or they whine. Parenting is hard work and implementing these ideals isn’t easy!

      • And I acknowledge that THIS article explains things need to be age-appropriate. I’m simple commenting on the discipline-movement at large, where people can take this to an extreme.

    • Denise

      I totally agree with you! I thought I was the only one who disagrees with this article. It isn’t right and it’s way too harsh. These Little Adults are your children to which you have a responsibility to take care of and, yes, make sure they have a HAPPY childhood. Someone here said that our kids should be the center of our world without them knowing it. Oh yes, let’s keep our kids at a distance and never express our feelings towards them, that’s great parenting.

  • Jennifer

    Thank you for this! I actually do all these things and everyone acts like I’m too hard on my son. You made it seem so obvious why I do these things!

  • […] The Stressed Mom gives us 10 tips on how to not raise a brat. I’m nowhere near having kids but I thought her list was totally spot on. Mothers out there, […]

  • Makamae

    My mom did all those things. And while laundry was done everyday, we took turns doing EVERYONE’S laundry in the house, which is just as good as being responsible for your own every week or so.

  • anonnnnnn

    I’m the youngest in my family, now 20, and I am the most independent. I think it’s because after two other kids I wasn’t babied as much, it sounds mean but it’s not lol. I’m sure most parents are all up on their first born because it’s new and exciting but my brother (who I love and has great qualities) is selfish and is living at home with his girlfriend and baby… he’s 24.

  • Vicky

    You’re not offering any help with these points. Like #1: If your kid doesn’t get out of bed for school, what do you do? Speaking as a kid who refused to get out of bed on Sunday morning for church, I’m quite interested to hear it.

  • Tina

    I grew up with this mantra from my father “It’s not about raising good kids, but raising good adults”. My father taught me that as a child/ teenager I would make mistakes, he didn’t expect me to be perfect, but he did expect me to learn. I am now a parent and have every intention to hold this teaching up to my own child. I am the product of this style of raising a child and I can not imagine any other way.

  • slconnelly

    I agree! We should raise children who are mature and self sufficient – (we can’t live forever). And I also believe that we should raise them to contribute to society, give a little something back, pay it forward…. whatever you want to call it – but be part of the community it’s so much more rewarding to give then to receive all the time. Everyone has different ways of administrating the steps above – but the key element is to encourage responsibility and respect for others and share love.

  • Keisha

    WOW! I have always thought of myself as doing pretty well in raising independent children, but stand corrected! Society tends to encourage babying and I had no clue that I was doing some of those things too. Thank you for this article!

  • […] How to not raise a brat | The Stressed Mom February 24, 2012 at 12:36 am · Reply […]

  • Isabel

    When I was about 8, my brother (7) and sister (4) were watching saturday morning cartoons, when my mom walked in and told us to pick up the mess we had all over the living room floor. She said: “if I come back and find your stuff all over the floor you’ll see…”. This scene was typical in my house most saturday mornings. We never listened and thing would escalate untill my mom got angry we got irritable. Well that day she was obviously fed up. She came back and our mess was untouched. She brought a huge black platic bag and put all our stuff in it. She told us to get in the car with a look that dared any of us to say a word. The drive was silent as she took us to our church. We were horrified when she told the clerk that her children wanted to donate their toys to children who would appreciate them. We knew better than to say any word of protest in church of all places!! Ask me if I ever left anything lying on the floor again… Never. I was in awe of my mother. I thank my mother everyday for that lesson, and all the other ones she handed out while growing up. She is awesome!! I hope I can be half the mom she is and I hope I can teach my children to have good values, responsibility, respect and independence even when its hard.

  • For those who think, “My parents didn’t follow those rules and I turned out totally responsible because I got great grades and excelled in extra-curricular activities,” I don’t think you realize what “responsible” really means. I myself was a 4.0 student with a long list of achievements, but when I entered the “Real World” I had painful experiences showing me how incapable I was of multi-tasking, taking care of finances, keeping my home clean, and disciplining my own children. My mom was the type who did everything for us, in the name of having it done “right” and because she wanted me to focus 100% on academics.

    I only have issues with #1 (because some kids would be perfectly happy with missing a chunk of school or church). Other than that, I agree with being “hard” on your kids, even when it sounds too harsh. Because life isn’t going to go easy on them later on. And you’re certainly not doing society any favors sending out more immature citizens (we have enough already).

  • I recommend this book for those wanting to delve further into this parenting approach: Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement

  • One more comment about the idea of raising “happy” children. Yes, it is our job to teach children how to be happy…truly happy. True happiness can only come from learning how to work hard and be self-sufficient.

  • Stephanie

    I love this. This is exactly how I *want* to parent. I know these things in my head 🙂 This article says nothing about demanding chores to be done and such, but it is pointing out the value in requiring children to do part of the housework and take responsibility for their surroundings.

    I am a teacher of 2nd graders. At least half my students come in each year with almost no concept of respect for a teacher, no idea how to keep their things organized, and when they forget their homework, the say “My mom didn’t tell me!” My mantra at school is, “your mom is not in my class! Your mom already went to 2nd grade.” So I remember that when I’m trying to instill things in my own children.

    Of course I WANT my children to be happy, but it’s not my job to make them happy, just like it’s not their job to make me happy. It’s my job to teach them to make themselves happy. And it’s my job to make sure they don’t end up as just another waste of air on this planet. Some of the smallest, most innocent mistakes can totally wreck a child’s ability to function as an actual decent adult later on. EARN things, take care of your belongings, be responsible for your own success AND failures, on and on and on…

    I wish I could print this and give it to parents at back-to-school night. But… I’m not a parenting expert. Just a mom and someone who has worked with 150 7 year olds and their parents in the past 6 years.

  • Anne Marie

    I was raised like this and I was not a brat. But as an adult have a hard time trusting people. My mother thought she was teaching her children to be self-reliant, but now I still refuse to ask anyone for help even when I need it.

    Do not force your child to be independent at the expense of feeling cared for.

  • Tired Nanny

    Totally Agree! Too many people let their children control their lives!
    I don’t have children (I’m an undergrad student–no time for that yet!) but I have been the summer nanny for a family with 4 kids for several years now. Their parents baby them, do everything for them, etc. I don’t. The difference in behavior is incredible! These children (ages 3-9) don’t listen and are uncontrollable around their parents. When I’m with them, they are well-behaved and as independent as you can expect a child of their ages to be! Just goes to show that behavior is directly linked to discipline.
    I hope a ton of parents read this blog!!

  • This is very close to how I was raised. The only thing we really deviated on was laundry. To this day my mom loves to do laundry. My mom did always did all of my laundry. I always understood that she didn’t have to do my laundry, and that I was very lucky that she did it for me.

  • Lindsay

    I love this article!! I was raised this way and did not suffer as an adult because of it! This woman is not talking about bootcamp but requiring your children to learn to manage their time and priorities. Children can experience “happiness” by knowing they complete a project by themselves! There is a reward in finishing!! The only thing I wish was discussed more in our house was money and how to spend and save. I knew we were always lacking in money and always knew if I wanted anything in the world, I was going to have to get a job and earn it!! (which I did) I wish, however, my parents would have taught me about entrepreneurship and the idea of being able to control my financial future. When I went to college I was so disgusted by all of the other students asking me to do their laundry for them (because they didn’t have a clue and I responded the way I was taught…go figure it out yourself) that I missed a great opportunity to make money and pay for my education as I went!!!

  • Ruth A

    I agree 100%. My mom had 6 children also and she raised us to be independent well rounded adults. Children now a days are expecting to be paid to clean their rooms and to help around the house (drives me crazy) The whole pick a chore to earn cash chart that parents are doing now boggles my mind. I am a mommy of a 4 yr old boy who happens to have down syndrome. I give him little chores to do around the house and praise him when he finishes. He loves it and it teaches him to be independent and he is proud when he finishes a task. He knows that he is allowed to make a mess but he also knows that he needs to clean it up when he is done. Thanks for publishing this. It was about time someone said it.

  • Heather

    I’ll probably get flamed, but I disagree with this. My mother didn’t do most of these things, except 6 and 7. Number 9 happened naturally because I was an only child of a single parent.

    I’m a 23 year old college graduate who just moved across the country in August. I live 700 miles away from my mother, so not only do I not rely on her for things, but I can’t. We had our fair share of fights when I was in high school, but frankly, I think I turned out pretty darn well. In high school I worked part time from 14 on, I purchased both my first and second car, I’ve purchased every cell phone I’ve had since I graduated high school, I live on my own, I manage my money, I pay my bills on time, I keep myself well fed, I can do basic maintenance on my home, and I keep my house mostly clean. (Difficult when you work 60+ hours a week.)

    Do I still struggle sometimes? Of course I do. Growing up, nothing could have prepared me for some of the aspects of adult life. Picking and dealing with health insurance, filing taxes, moving across the country, buying appliances, dealing with getting approved for a mortgage, and things like that are things that no young adult is really prepared for, regardless of if their parents followed this.

    I think this article deals with the same thing that “happy parenting” deals with; it makes not bratty CHILDREN. Frankly, I know some of my friends parents who did everything on this list and their child has yet to make anything of themselves. Do have a spotless living area and clean clothes? Sure. Do they contribute to society? Not a chance. Most still live at home. Raising your child like this makes no promise that they won’t be brats later in life.

  • Paige

    Wow, what great ideas. I’ve never heard of them before… not. What’s the rush for kids growing up? They are only children once. The truth is that life really is unfair, so why would someone need to “teach” them that? They will see the truth on their own. It’s our job as parents to show them that it’s ok when something unfair comes along and how to get through it. This “tough love” parenting is bullshit. When you read this article I hope you ask yourself if you actually know anyone who was raised without these suggestions that turned into a brat. 

  • Preschool Teacher

    Wow! I just came home after a pretty rough Monday- both preschool classes today were very tough. We spend so much time dealing with disruptive, aggressive, belligerent behavior, it’s a wonder we get any class work done! I hear “I can’t do it- I’m to little”, “No! You can’t make me!” and even get kicked and hit sometimes- and this is a private, church- based preschool. I have 5 year olds being carried into class by their parents, and tantrums when they leave. How do parents think their child will learn anything if they are given everything?
    I should also say; I am a parent of 3- two boys (16 & 14) and a girl (9). My 14 year old has autism, and my 16 year old has ADHD, so I KNOW how challenging parenting can be. My kids have had chores and expectations since they were old enough to lift a dust rag. I get comments ALL THE TIME about how helpful and well- behaved my kids are, even when I think they are “acting up”. Then I think about living with some of my preschoolers (whom I really do love), and I shudder. I guess you reap what you sow.

  • Kat

    I think this blog should be called “The Lazy Mom.” Honestly, if you didn’t want to care for your home or kids, why did you have them? Praising your oldest for teaching her older children to look after her younger ones is ridiculous (maybe she should have used some birth control after the first so she didn’t end up with more then she could handle?) In our society children should not be responsible for looking after younger children (even briefly) that is what PARENTS and CHILD CARE PROVIDERS (the adult kind) do. Beyond teaching them how to pick up after themselves (NOT housework or chores just cleaning up their own messes) there is nothing worth reading on this blog. Its just another “Mommy is stressed out so here are some things you can pass off to someone else” blog.

    Newsflash: Birth control is cheap and effective, if you can’t manage a full time job, husband, cooking, cleaning, scheduling and a social life please use it. I know it can be done because I did it. My son was a terrible brat when he was young (according to this blog anyway) but he is now: 17, a straight A student, a great cook (because he showed interest so I taught him), friendly, kind, well mannered and a huge help around the house because he grew up watching my husband and I doing the work of running a household. I feel very confident that he will manage just fine when he goes off to college next year. Half the battle is not trying to raise more kids then you can manage.

  • Kristy

    Great list. We started doing our own laundry at age 8. I was teaching others when I went off to college. So sad that some parents, trying to give their kids everything they can, raise them to be quite incompetent & look foolish down the road.

    One other thing I would add to this list is one of the top things I am thankful for in my parents & that is spanking. We didn’t get many but because they spanked us the first few times we acted out or rebelled or disobeyed, it made us think twice about doing it again. There is a difference between beating a child & spanking them. In my opinion, not spanking is almost as abusive & detrimental to a child’s future as beating them.

  • Kelsi

    I think there needs to be a balance between having happy children and responsible children. I don’t want my kids to be 30 with their own children before they realize that I have their best interests at heart. Obviously rules, discipline, and responsibility are important, but do you really want your kids to remember most that they always had to do their own laundry? Or that you had a strict “no treat” rule while shopping?

  • I wish my inlaws would have thought like this. I dread the day I have their grandchildren.

  • Joy

    A brilliant list.I am a grandmother and wish I had done this with my own kids. my daughter is bringing up Two boys and she is a fantastic Mother. They have clear boundaries and are well mannered and loved but not spoiled. I, as a parent indulged my children too much – . Unclear boundaries and my son was indulged too much. I have learned more about child rearing from watching my daughter than I ever knew as a parent .

  • i agree with most of that but the part of Stop doing their laundry.i really dont want my 7 or 3 year old doing washing until at least 10 now folding yes they can do

  • Ashley

    Thank you so much for posting this! I was nodding along from the very first line! I have had the opportunity to work with many older teens/young adults who are completely hopeless because they were so badly spoiled by their parents. There is a large age gap between myself and my two younger siblings (10 years) and I can clearly see a difference between how they act now at ages 18 & 19 than I did at that age simply because of how parenting changed between that time. In my opinion, raising happy kids is the lazy way of parenting. My first little boy is due January & I am looking forward to raising a self-sufficient, respectful, independent and non-bratty child!!

  • Becky

    Thank you so much for posting these. I had a half/half upbringing according to this. As far as chores went, my brother and I were the live-in and unpaid help. We did EVERYTHING around the house and were not allowed to socialize very much because my religious father believe any kid not belonging to our church=bad influence. Despite all these responsibilities we were extremely sheltered and protected from a lot of natural consequences. My brother learned to lie very well to stay out of trouble and make me look bad, despite the many freedoms he had that I didn’t. I learned to be untrusting and had zero idea of how to function in real life. Now I am 30 and thinking of having my own kids. I FLATLY REFUSE to raise them the way I was raised. I will still instill the sense of right and wrong that I thankfully did get, but I will not raise kids who don’t know the basic life skills. I will also never, ever let my children doubt that they are loved, even when I am tough on them. I grew up thinking the following: that I was homely(they didn’t want me becoming vain), that I was never ever going to be good enough (every failure magnified, every success minimalised), that I was ‘different’ for wanting to follow my own dreams(not the acceptable nurse, office drone or teacher) and somehow not as capable because I was a girl. I won’t say I was babied, I wasn’t, my upbringing was hard. And I will never let my kids be so independent that they are able to participate in dangerous behaviors. Tough love can be taken too far and only serve to drive your children to want to escape as soon as they can. I dropped out of the college I hadn’t even wanted to attend (I was accepted to another school, dad said no, as it was almost two hours away) and moved in with friends. I flatly refused to go back to that. I had to learn the hard way, it wasn’t easy, but I did learn that I have worth, I am capable of so much and now, at 30, finally feel as if I am catching up to my peers.

  • Stacyelle

    Reading this makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing as a parent for a change. I have room for improvement, but I don’t feel like such a bad mom because our children are expected to do things for themselves. We are raising them for their future.

  • Devon

    My mom did all of those things when raising me and my two brothers. I like to think we turned out to be responsible adults. However, I nanny a 3 year old and her mom does the exact opposite of these things and she is, sure enough, the biggest brat ever.

  • teenager

    Although I’m not a parent but a teenage girl, I love this list. My mom followed almost every single step on there on her own and now I see that I have grown to be an independent child. I really love her for that.

    I think the key is to have the rules in your head and be consequent with that.
    Even though I’d raise my own children like that too I must say that my parents should maybe have told me they love me more often and show me they’re proud of what I accomplished. When they say it now I don’t really know how to react and it’s awkward for me.
    Thanks for the post! I think many parents today subconsciously spoil their kids because they can’t stand to see them not having fun for a while and I do understand that, but I also think that you all should trust your child because if you do, it will be confident and learn to solve problems on its own.
    all of that comes in handy when your kids grow up and you can’t watch them anymore.
    love 🙂

  • Lisa Harry

    I worked with elementary kids for a longtime- and taught several parenting classes.
    It’s ok if your kids feel bad. The only way to make a behavioral change is to invoke an emotional response. If it doesn’t feel good they won’t keep doing it.
    Kids don’t need a reward for everything they do.
    Don’t count to 3. Respond the first time. Stop the car. Really. Stop the car!
    Don’t argue or negotiate with kids. Be the boss.
    Have “cleaning hour” set a timer and everyone works for one hour only. no breaks, but at the end of the hour everyone stops. it’s amazing how much can be done in that time and since everyone is working there is less whining.
    Teach them social skills. please, thank you, excuse me, how to ask, how to accept no for an answer.
    Give your kids time to relax. they need it as much as you do.
    You have to teach kids behavior, just the same as math and reading. it isn’t automatic. use nice language, and be nice. Kids mimic what they see.

  • Leslie Rhyne

    My babies are 1 and 2… both help me wash dishes, clean tables, help me take clothes out of the dryer into baskets and even try to fold, they pick up toys, basically they are involved in everything I do around the house… I do not force them too, nor do I expect them to, they are just babies… But these are things I do on a daily basis, its apart of their normal day, just as well as play time and nap time, WE CLEAN EVERYDAY. I am stern when I dicipline, but when they fall down and cry I’m the first to come running, they depend on me to be comforting and they expect kisses on all their ouchies… Do I think this is gonna mess them up?? Absolutely not. I do not agree with alot of this only because children learn by example, if they are used to doing something every day because you do it, they will do it. Mimicking is a natural human instinct. Its not as much enforcing rules, and refraining from ‘babying’, or passing off your motherly duties to children, its setting an example. I agree with Kat, this should be called “The Lazy Mom.” (For the record, I’m a single mom working a full time job, and still setting these examples AND getting all the chores done)

  • Emily

    My mother and grandmother have lived by this way of raising children and I think I turned out pretty great 🙂 now I have 2 children of my own and I am now following in their footsteps. I’m one of the youngest moms I know that mothers this way. I’m so glad I’m not alone 🙂

  • Proof that this kind of parenting is so very important. A few years ago I suffered a brain injury that kept me in the hospital for 4 days and in which I lost about 3 weeks of memory. I came home from the hospital incapable of doing much of anything- except sleep and sleep some more! My four children(my husband works long hours and had to return to work)were able to handle their responsibilities because we had raised them to be independent. At a traumatic time-like a parent being suddenly taken out of the picture-when most children would have fallen apart ours were able to keep going.It took only a moment to suffer the brain injury but it proved to us in that same moment that we thankfully had always been adamant on raising them to become adults!

  • Eve

    AMEN! I used to work for a child psychologist and he told me that one thing many parents say is, “I don’t know why we’re having so many problems, we give him/her everything he/she wants.” BINGO!

  • Lisa

    Great points. Some things we’ve started doing as well: make them buy things at the store (counting change, etc.) Having them find our way to the gate at the airport (reading signs, etc.) These life skills are much harder to learn on your own as an adult than when young with support.

  • Debbie

    I totally agree with you. This is how my parents raised my brother and myself and this is how my husband and I are raising our three boys. Our two oldest have been doing their own laundry for about 3 years now. They also like to cook breakfast, have to clean their rooms, normal house chores like throwing the trash, cleaning the yard, etc. They also understand that grades are very important to us and that their habits now will reflect later in high school. (our oldest will be a freshmen next year and the other is in middle school) Our youngest has to clean up his room and do smaller chores like cleaning up his toys, and he also likes to help me fold laundry. Now it’s not the greatest job but at least he tries!
    I very much agree that if we concentrate more on teaching them while they are growing up we can relax a little more when they are older. Otherwise, they do grow up and expect things to happen for them insted of working for it. Great article!!!

  • One of my primary rules — NEVER buy them anything from the checkout line. It teaches impulsivity and sets a bad precedent of expectation mentality!

  • I think this is for lazy parents. If you choose to have children you are choosing to take on the responsibilities of taking care of them. I think this article is absurd. Why not just demand your child be potty trained and off the bottle as soon as their born so you can cross that one off your list too… Or better yet why not entitle it 10 ways to pawn your responsibilities off onto your children! I was raised in a strict military household and my mom is OCD on cleaning and I was expected to pick up after myself at a certain age but my parents treated me with respect as an individual. Also I would like to add that it is the parents legal responsibility to make sure their children are at school everyday so if your telling me it’s not your problem if your kids aren’t up and at school on a daily basis you better get your priorities straight . I moved out as soon as I was 18 bought my first home at 20 I’ve been married for 5 years and we have 2 children that say please and thank you without us telling them, they receive spankings if need be and they have empathy and compassion for other people. My goal is to teach my kids how your supposed to be and not demand it from them while I’m not showing them because I’m too busy delegating. My brother has 2 jobs and is in the army and he is the same way while having respect for other people and is a responsible adult and my parents raised me the exact same way I raise my 2 and 4 year old and I’ve had more people than I can count compliment me on how mature and responsible I am and how my children are so If you think this list is “the answer” to how to raise your children maybe you should have not had them to begin with.

  • Carol

    My whole parenting philosophy was “my goal is to raise a responsible adult” and everything flowed from that. Not that I didn’t make mistakes, but I have a strong, independent 30-year-old of whom I am so very proud. I never had to worry about peer pressure or that he was doing what he was supposed to do.

    My only caveat to the author’s post, which I think includes so much wisdom, is that as an infant and young child I smothered my child in love and concern then “let” him struggle to get out from under that. For example, as a two year old, when he’d get a cut or bad bump, I would rush over with “oh, did that hurt? Are you sure you’re o.k.?” etc., until, instead of crying and carrying on, he was assuring me that he was fine. This helped him become independent at a young age–he’d be calling out “I’m fine, mom!” before I could even move a muscle! To be honest, there were times I kinda missed being more “needed” later on! I think this gives a child a sense of security and a foundation of love that they know is always there as a safety net. I have nieces and nephews who were “ignored” or left to “figure it out” or “tough it out” and they are still trying to get their parents’ attention and approval. Of course, you can still expect your child to be responsible! I did not _DO_ a lot for my child, just showed lots of love and concern!

  • Amanda

    Holy Judgmental Batman!

    Before we all sit back and judge each other, how about acknowledging the fact that everybody here is probably trying to do best for their kids. And the fact that we care about reading articles on parenting… maybe it a sign that all of our kids are generally going to turn out okay? There are plenty people out there who just don’t care about their children at all and very well shouldn’t have HAD their children (as much as I hate saying it). To be throwing around and accusing the author or other posts of needing birth control is absurd.

    There is nothing wrong with this list. Many items here I try to teach my kids. I believe in teaching independence so they’re not relying on other people to do everything for them as adults… but at the same time teaching them that I’m here when they need me. My girls are 9 and 6. They make their own lunches while I’m cooking dinner and I supervise or help when needed. Why? Because I can’t do everything. I work a full time job, we have to run between dance classes, get home work and everything else. We all can help out because we all live under the same roof. They help set tables, clean up afterward, feed the cat, pick up their laundry, etc. They earn chore money for it and that money they can use when we go to stores if they want to buy those extras instead of me. Sometimes I’ll buy a treat at the store, but not always. We had a real problem when they were younger for them expecting and demanding people give them things constantly. But that’s not a trait I want them to have. I don’t want them to be adults or teenagers that just expect to get everything.

    This is how I handle my household. It might not be what works best for everybody and I know we’re not perfect. We have our bad days. But my kids are happy, they do well in school, and i really can’t ask much more than that.

  • Yvonne Donaldson

    I was reading the list and thinking, this is how I was raised. 🙂 Funny. Maybe not everything but it’s pretty close. My parents made mistakes. I’m not a parent yet but I am planning to adopt from foster care. I am learning all I can. I know that even with everything I read, I am still going to make mistakes. My goal is to raise responsible adults who know they are loved.

  • J

    That is almost exactly how my parents raised me! I am now a freshman in college and am almost completely independent. My parents make my car payments, health and dental insurance, but I have a job, pay for my school, mostly through the scholarships I have. I pay for all the other things now. I am glad my parents raised me to be self sufficient so I don’t have to depend on them anymore!

  • Kim

    Some of this stuff sounds mean. Just because you’re a jerk to your kid doesn’t mean they won’t turn out to be a brat. My parents were actually nice to me and I turned out to be more self sufficient, independent, successful than most people my age – and probably a lot less bitter than most, too. You don’t have to be mean to be a good parent.

  • I’m not a mom, but I’ve been a Pre-K teacher for 10 years. It amazes me how parents these days cater to their kids while we are trying to educate them into productive, self sufficient humans. It sometimes takes all my strength not to slug the parent whose child brings a Barbie house into school because “she just wouldn’t leave the house without it, sorry.” Or the one whose child is screaming and telling her to shut up and her response is, “Come on now, superstar.” No. A crying, disrespectful brat is NOT a superstar. My job would be easier if there was more consistency and common sense in the homes of these children. Parents are getting dumber, in turn children will be too. Remember, these children are going to grow up to take care of us someday. It would be nice if they knew how to make a decision without screaming and kicking the wall.

  • Amanda

    Don’t baby a three year old? A three year old IS a baby!! And making a four year old make his own food? It’s OKAY to have a child dependent on you as young as three and four. It’s okay that they know mommy as there as long as you ween out of that. It sounds like lazy parenting otherwise to basically want them to fend for themselves. Happiness SHOULD be a goal.

    • Celena

      Baloney. A 4 year old spreading their own peanut butter and jelly is slave labor? Please. My JUST turned 4 year old LOVES making her own sandwiches. She can put just the right amount of pb&j, or lettuce, or whatever on her sandwich. It’s a sense of accomplishment for her. Plus, then when she’s hungry and I’m busy nursing a baby, she can get herself a quick snack without having to wait 30 minutes for me to be done. She begs to help mop and dust (and various other chores) because she likes to do it. She likes to be helpful. There are still lots of things she needs help with, and I am more than willing to take the time to help her. But if it’s something she’s interested in (or I know she’s capable of) I walk her through it – helping as needed – until she gets it right. That proud “I CAN DO IT” smile is ALL I need to let me know I’m doing this right.

  • I have been a single mother many times…but I taught my children to do their laundry. If they could read, they could wash their clothes. My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter loves to “help”…she may not understand how to sort, but she brings the clothing to me or her mama to be washed. She is always saying “Miranda do it”…she loves to mix her own chocolate milk, and is already on her way to being independent. Such a sweetheart too…and “yes”, I still think of her as a “baby”…just because I don’t want to miss out on all her cuteness as she grows. Now, if I could get my children to find good paying jobs so I don’t have to support them…and that will come with a growing economy…(don’t get me started on that one)…then I know they would be well on their way to being independent adults.

  • Amanda

    OMG…. The people who are commenting that this is a LAZY parents list or it is mean clearly did not read the list. It does not state to sit on your butt while your children do everything around the house. It does not give ages for the list but I am quite sure that anyone with half a brain would be able to put an appropriate age with each rule. I see it every day everywhere I go children spoiled into believing their parents are there to be their slaves and be mistreated and disrespected. Rule 1 waking themselves up if your child cannot do this by age 13 its time to start teaching them. Rule 2 laundry omg my 25 year old husband cannot do laundry (his mother never taught him) my 19 month old takes laundry out of the dryer with mommy and helps fold (not really I mean she messes more than she folds obviously shes 19 months) I think age 6 they should be putting their own clothes away maybe 10 they can fold their own and 13 they should learn to wash their own. Rule 3 again my 19 month old already helps to pick up her toys I believe that by age 8 they are fully capable of putting dirty laundry where it belongs and picking up anything they drag out. Rule 4 Dinner time is suppose to be family time why cant kids set and clear the table mommys cook and then wash afterwards age 6-8 and if your kid cant cook pasta or eggs at sixteen they need to learn. Rule 5 here I have a slight disagreement if your child is following the house rules and has behaved well I see no reason they should not be rewarded (doesn’t have to cost more than a dollar and make sure they know why they are getting a treat or not getting a treat). Rule 6 homework… as soon as your child is getting it they should be taught that it must be done before and above anything else. Rule 7 the whining and this is a huge one in this day and age. Most parents today do not see a difference in genuine crying and whining, there is a difference if you cant tell the difference you dont know your child very well. Rule 8,9,and 10 pretty self explanatory. In my case I was not held responsible at a young age for anything but my homework, because I wasn’t taught young my teenage years were tough for my parents (they had four others raised the same as me) and while my parents were loving and caring I would definitely say we were over spoiled when it came to responsibility. I learned just how difficult everyday life can be starting the day I moved out (bills, housework, stress, etc…) I read a comment on a girl who lost her family in an accident, who wishes she had more guidance while her family was there, although this story is tragic it should teach you all a lesson as parents to start teaching your kids the important things as early as you can because you might not always be there to do so. The ages I posted might not be appropriate in all homes as all children learn at a different pace.

    • Celena

      I love your comment. Right on. My 4 year old has been helping with laundry, mopping, etc. since she was about a year old. Even before that she loved getting a rag and a spray bottle of water and ‘washing’ mirrors or the tub. Kids mimic their parents. Not allowing kids to help and have chores (in my opinion) makes them think they’re not good enough or not capable of helping… which leads to feeling useless. Heck, my 18 month old is capable of putting his dirty clothes into the basket, putting away some of his clean clothes, etc. 🙂

  • Heather

    I work at a daycare FULL of kids who have parents that need to read this article. It seems that a great number of parents these days are too terrified to upset their children. My 2 year old daughter, on the other hand, often hears me say “That’s okay. You can cry. But I’m still not giving you what you want”. And as I have said many times to my co-workers and other friends of mine, these parents who baby their children and hinder their growth in terms of self-help skills are not doing them any favors. While I am often groaning at just how independent my daughter is (she will often insist on doing something by herself even though she has tried a hundred times and could use some help), I am so very thankful that she WANTS to do things on her own and WANTS to help.

  • Jordan

    While reading this, all I could think was, that this list could also be titled 10 ways to not have a bratty husband!

  • kenzie oyer

    I understand having them help you but maybe not until they are 10 or older. When it says don’t baby them no matter what age. I’m gonna baby my child for several years.

    • Celena

      So when your kid asks to help unload the dishwasher or the dryer, or wants to help fold clothes or clean the bathtub… you’ll tell her ‘no’ so she can be babied? Kids naturally want to mimic parents. At 12 months, whenever I mopped the kitchen my daughter would be right there with her own rag. I didn’t ask her to, she wanted to be there with mommy. She loved running around with the vacuum sucking up whatever she could find. It was an accomplishment for her to be able to help. Kids are pretty set in their ways by age 7… so if you wait until your kids are 10 and THEN all of a sudden start having expectations… well… good luck with that.

  • Amy R

    I absolutely agree with this. I am a mother of four, (4.5, 3, 1 and 3 weeks) and work as a houseparent in a (voluntary placement) children’s home to six boys (7, 8, 8, 9, 10 & 11) and I can tell you that many of the problems that we experience with the children that are not our own are a direct result of the parents having no expectations of the children. A child is capable of picking up after themselves and almost any household chore before the age of 10. With the exception of carrying the laundry basket up and down the stairs, my 4.5 year old can do laundry without help, and she LIKES to do it. If I had waited until she was 10 to permit her to do her own laundry, it would have been much harder to teach her to do it because she wouldn’t have been interested or excited to learn. Giving them responsibilities as they are capable of carrying them out, when their will is on your side, in my opinion makes for much easier training of independent life skills. In the long run, being capable and independent is what will make them happy.

  • […] Recently I followed a link from Smockity Frocks (one of my favorite blogs) to a list at The Stressed Mom about how not to raise a brat.  […]

  • Kim

    Yes! I work in a day care and also have an elementary and special education degree. I don’t have any of my own children but I certainly work with a lot of them! I was surprised, and happy, with how many comments were positive toward this! I think that this article and others take the word happy to mean always happy. I feel every (or just about every) wants their child to be Happy in that they are fulfilled in life, but this article talks about happy to the point where they are never upset being bad.

    I’m never going to demand that a 2 year old sweep the floor after snack. However, out of 7 1-2 year olds in my class 3 of them see me wipe down the table after snack and run to me “my turn my turn my turn my turn” because they know the sweeping is next. I let them each take a turn with the dust pan and then it’s my turn. I practically trip over the kids as I do just about any cleaning and the 2 year olds anticipate my next move and try to be first to turn on the light or carry the dishes down to the dishwasher where they can’t wait to help me load the dishes. Why would I discourage that?! While I don’t force them to carry the dishes, if I need to take the dishes down they have to come with me. They just had a couple hours of snack and free play and outside time. Now it’s time for cleaning.

    As a student teacher in a self-contained special education middle school classroom my teacher expected things of the kids. While some would say that they can’t do it because they have special needs and other teachers might take the fact that they are in middle school as an excuse for them not being able to do something, my teacher’s philosophy was that they had even more reason to need to learn it in middle school because they take longer to learn things. The kids had to bring back field trip forms and the the kids would constantly say “my mom forgot to sign it and put it in my backpack. Her reply, “No, you forgot to have her sign it.”

    Obviously students who were non-verbal and working on potty training and how to brush their teeth had different standards. But those kids had expectations that they were working on. They didn’t just get to do whatever and go wherever. It took him at least 10 minutes to get his toothbrush and supplies and brush his teeth but he had to do it himself to learn. Then he had to get a rag and clean his lunch spot up. All of the kids in the class had jobs/chores at the end of the day that changed weekly, including dishes, wiping down the handles, picking up the floor, etc. They had to fold and put away all of their PE clothes that were washed weekly.

    All of the students in this class working on academic skills of spelling and vocab had homework that was the exact same type every week with new words. They had to finish it by Thursday or they didn’t get to participate in the field trip or other activity on Friday because they had to finish their homework. It was a rule and that was that! They learn that we don’t just let them go anyway and sometimes fits are involved but I’m sure they figure it out. I was only with them for fall quarter so I didn’t get to see them at the end of the year. All students had to have good behavior or they couldn’t do those things.

    Wow, long comment (as is my usual I suppose…)

  • B

    I think this is great advice. My son is still quite young (only 2 1/2) but he cleans up his own toys and helps with other household chores including laundry. He knows that he doesn’t get what he wants all the time, no matter how much he cries, pouts of whines. He has a natural instinct to try to help when I am cleaning, that’s something that a lot of kids have and should be encouraged. It teaches them to be independent and responsible for themselves. Often this day in age parents seem to forget that their kids have to be adults one day. Giving in to every whim isn’t helping them for their future, and actually hurts them in the long run. I’m glad that I started to realize these things before I have my second one (any day now) because he will be willing to help with his younger brother (within reason).

  • I completely agree with this article! Except be careful if you are step-parent that parents this way (regardless of parenting your bio children the same) lest your spouses ex report you for child abuse. My fiance and I are what you would call in this day and age “strict”, apparently it is seen in some circles “abusive” to let a 3 year old play in their room with the door open right off the main room without you being right up their bum.

  • Finally!!!! I have been attempting to raise my 4 children this way and get so much criticism for “making them work too hard”. People have even threatened to turn us in for violating child labor laws for making our 6 yr old son help with the lawn mowing and yard work! I was so glad to see this post and know that I am not the only one teaching my kids to work, thanks 🙂

  • Lacy

    Can I just say, I agree completely.. I was SPOILED (and, yes, a BRAT) my whole life and now that I am out and married and mother to two little girls, I have had a heck of a time trying to “grow up” in the last five years or so. Cleaning, budgeting, all those “grown up” things were completely foreign to me when I first moved out, and I have to (still) call my parents on a pretty regular basis.

  • Ryan

    I’m a Researcher working for The Steve Harvey Show on NBC. We’re looking to book a segment on bratty daughters in the upcoming weeks. If you would be interested in talking please email me at

    Thank you so much and I look forward to hearing from you!

  • 1-2 of your points are ok, but the rest are way too much. I am sorry. I don’t want to be a hard ass parent.

  • Kristen

    I work in a Learning Center with kids who has parents who cater to their every desire. She’s not saying make the kids do everything themselves and do no work as a parent (i don’t agree with every bullet on the list) but there are some that parents don’t understand. I have seen parents tell their screaming, crying 3 year old that they can have the candy bar(or whatever else) just so their child will stop acting out. It’s not about being harsh on the kids. It’s mostly about showing them that not everything in life will go their way. It’s extremely helpful to anyone else dealing with the children when they have parents who don’t cater to every whim

  • Amanda

    100% agree!

  • That’s some truly good advice. Wish I’d gotten it. Mine isn’t 21, he is 23. I truly did him a disservice and if I had it to do over again, would. I hope young parents read this and understand the truth in your advice. Take it from a 43 year old mom who knows as sees the crippling effect this has had. It hurts to see your child with no ambition and ambivilant about life and responsibility.

  • Kim

    I agree 100% with 1-10, but I don’t think being happy AND responsible are mutually exclusive. I know quite a few happy, well-adjusted, non-bratty kids.

  • Tammy

    Mom of 8 kids in 10 years . . . when my kids turned 5 I taught them to do their own laundry. We kept it simple with a light load and a dark load. (I heard this a lot: “Mom, is this light or dark?) But they thought they were so “big”. Then they folded and put it all away. They got their own laundry day and even though they came to hate it some weeks, they soon learned if they wanted clean clothes or underwear, they needed to do their laundry. I had to let go and let them be in charge of some things for themselves, it was too much for me, so it was good for all of us. (note: I usually washed their Sunday clothes or special outfits.) It’s important for kids to be accountable and responsible.

  • Sam

    I practice alot of these rules, it teaches your kids to appreciate more.

  • Roberta

    I 100% agree with you!!!! My problem is with not calling them out of bed more than once…. How do you get them out of bed and ready for school in the morning??? I’m having to call/holler/drag them! Today I just left them home to do a list of chores or stay in their room but can’t do that everyday they need to go to school..

  • Beth

    I really like this. One that jumped out at me was not to buy your child a treat or toy every time you go the store. I can’t stand that and it kills me when I hear friends say, “Well he wanted it, so I bought him a $30 doll/toy/game.” What?! Why don’t you say, “No!” Or even a kinder, “Let’s put that on your birthday/Christmas wish list.” Many of these same people complain about their tight budgets. Go figure!

  • HJ

    I read this and thought well some is true. I have a 5 and 3 yr old. They are both very loving, helpful and nice! They learn what they live. My 3 year old will hold a door open for a complete stranger….who told her that? Maybe she saw me do it. My five yr old’s SK teacher told me to be proud of her. She is helpful and very caring toward her peers….maybe she sees this. I baby them when they need it – sickness – I am there when they ask me to be there – sit with them….i love this poem and I raise my kids with this in mind:

    Children Learn What They Live (Poem):

    If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
    If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
    If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
    If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
    If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
    If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
    If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
    If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
    If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
    If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
    If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
    If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
    If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
    If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
    If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
    If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
    If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
    If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

    Both kids pick up after themselves maybe not right away but they do it. I leave it for them to do. I ask them what is expected of them for their age and the biggest part is that we have fun doing it! I never owned a pair if rainboots or a a rainsuit. Both of my kids are instructed to jump in puddles! We will rake the leaves only to have to do it over and over again because they want to jump in them. Kids learn from play. Our house is a fun learning place and I will always worry if my kids are not happy that is normal – I am a mother. I love my kids and will do anything they need of me if they ask and I always will tell them – ask if you need help. Nothing wrong with that!

  • HJ

    I wanted to add that my hubby and I tell our girls we love them everyday! We hear it back randomly that is so nice to hear! Yes we get whining and ( normal for toddlers) we dont give in at all. We are constantly reminding them to make good decisions and that will get rewards! We have treat Saturdays for all the things earned. We do have a chore chart and we place stickers on each “job” done. We are an equal balance family … Lessons, jobs, then play hard! Jobs being make beds, put clothes on hangers….they help to water plants and my 3 yr old loves to help me push the vacuum around. They both throw their dirty clothes in the bin. They are kids, let them be kids and bring back play!

  • Stephanie

    In my experience, children raised in this way and with abundant love, are the truly happy children – they have self-respect!

  • ANN

    The only thing missing is to not be afraid to tell your kid “No!”…lots of kids have NEVER heard the word no.

  • Katie

    My parents raised me this way. I’ve been very independent since a young age. And since I was raised with respect and honesty, I’ve gotten a lot more freedom from my parents because of it. I don’t feel like they have ever said no to me about anything unless they had a very good reason (even if I couldn’t see it at the time). I was protected, but free. So, when you’re raised in this kind of setting, (Also a Christian background, mind you) your child can have more freedom with respect and responsibilities. I completely agree as a product of this kind of raising. 🙂 BTW, I’m 19, in college and working my own job to pay for my education! I get some help from Mom and Dad when I desperately need it, and I talk to them on a daily basis! 🙂