Make Sure You're Not Raising a Brat
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Your 3-year-old has two friends over. She starts eating with her hands, using potty words, and ignoring you. She's just showing off, but what do you do?
A. Threaten to send the kids home if she can't behave. After all, she should know better.
B. Be cool but firm: Restate your rules.
C. Let it slide. There's safety in numbers, and she's feeling her oats with her buddies.
You're the mom, and you set the tone for your household. But don't overreact; nothing reinforces bad behavior like getting angry (hey, it's better than no attention at all). Stay calm and remind your daughter how you want her to behave, in front of her friends: "We don't use those words at the table." She'll readjust her attitude, and her pals will tone it down as well, in the face of your kind authority.
And if they don't? Give a warning that you'll send her to her room while her friends continue to play -- and then do it. Afterward, you can discuss your actions with your child, and point it out when you see it in others.
This is a favorite with my kids, for whom egregious behavior (in public) is a vicarious thrill. Annie once went to a party where the birthday girl screamed at her mother because her mom wouldn't let her open presents until after lunch. "What would you do if I did that?" Annie whispered to me.
"I'd send all the guests home with their presents," I said. "And I'd make you write an apology to every one of them for being rude and selfish."
"Well, I'd never do that," she said. "I'm not a spoiled brat."