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Teaching Manners for Spoiled Children


You've just showered your children with holiday gifts, and now (surprise!) they're feeling entitled. It's time to reprogram your little gimme-gimmes.

Deal with these three less-than-angelic incarnations of your kid with advice from Dana Dorfman, Ph.D., a New York City-based child psychotherapist and mother of two.

No-Manners Munchkin 

Does your kiddo always seem to forget “please” and “thanks”? Lead by example, and praise him every time he says those magic words. Still not working? Assign household chores, like setting the table, which provide opportunities for the kids to be the recipients of your expressions of gratitude. The self-esteem boost will help drive your point home.

Mall Brat 

Most kids have no shame when it comes to retail freak-out sessions, especially if you've refused them the latest hot toy—but don't give in! Tell your kid you know how he feels, but his behavior is not okay. Referring to a part of the store within sight and saying “I'm going to walk over there for a minute; come when you calm down” gives him time to relax and shows that you won't respond to bad behavior. But overall, limit talking—it's ineffective to reason with a screaming child. Revisit the situation later (but while it's still fresh), and brainstorm healthy ways he can express frustration.

Bedtime Beast 

If your only parent-child nighttime routine is a battle over lights-out, work on establishing a consistent bedtime. Involve your kid in the process by asking what he thinks is fair (of course, you ultimately make the decision). Agree on a set time and—just as important—outline clear consequences for disobeying, like limiting TV or computer use. Hint: Have this conversation early in the day, not right before bed.