Kids Are Turning Into Brats

Dear Sara,

My kids are eleven, thirteen and fourteen. They have become real brats. Their father has to travel because of his job so he’s not here much to help. They are disrespectful and demanding and I feel overwhelmed. I think my fourteen year old started it and the other two joined in. How can I feel like an in charge Mom again?

Dear Amber,

Since your kids aren’t old enough to work you have a way to control them. If you withhold money and transportation unless they cooperate, they will complain loudly, but they will get the point. Talk to your husband first and let him know what you are doing so he won’t bail them out. It may take a while to get control again so don’t give in.

Good luck,


  1. Respect is earned not given. Make yourself worthy of respect and so it will follow. You sound like a milquetoast. Grow a spine.

  2. When I was a kid, we had a stay-at-home mom while my dad worked six days a week. My dad insisted on this because he didn’t want anyone else but Mom raising us. Mom was the disciplinarian, and was she tough! My sister and I were expected to help with chores around the house…wash the dishes, sweep the floors, make our beds, etc. My mom told us, “Daddy and I feed you, clothe you and provide a roof over your heads. The least you can do is to help with the chores.” We also were not allowed to watch TV after school until all of our homework was done, and bedtime was at 8:30 every night…no exceptions! Mom was the kind of mother who raised us with a Bible in one hand and a switch in the other…if one didn’t work, the other did! My mom was strict, but we knew she loved us…she would sew our dresses for school, teach us to write thank you notes for gifts we received, bake us cookies and other goodies, take us to the store when she went there (we were told, “If you’re not going to buy it, don’t touch it!”), and helped us with our homework whenever we needed it. My dad took us to the beach on Sundays, his only day off from work, and we enjoyed going fishing and swimming. We were what people nowadays would call, a low-income family, but my parents made sure that we had everything we needed, including discipline when necessary. My parents are both gone now, and I miss them everyday. But I also thank God for giving us parents who gave us a good foundation and prepared us well for adulthood. Many parents today don’t give their kids that…they’re too lenient with discipline because they want to be their kids’ pal, not their parent. They’re too busy working to give their kids things such as I-phones, expensive clothes/shoes, their own cars, etc. But these parents need to remember that their kids won’t remember the “things” they were given, but will remember the time their parents spent with them. Time is something that is the most priceless gift you can give your kids, and when that time is gone, it’s too late to make it up to them…when they’re adults, they won’t need Mom and Dad.

  3. Robin Hubbard says:

    Everyone has a currency. There is something they value. And, because they are your children, you control it. If it is screen time, take their screens away and their phones. Only give them to them for when it is necessary for them to contact you. If they are disrespectful, they have found something that they can hurt you with. It is hard but erase that. For instance, I had a 2 year old scream “I HATE YOU!” at me. I retorted that I loved him anyway instead of internalizing the words. But, most parents simply point out the obvious, like when my friend’s child wanted to turn them in for being “mean”. They explained that the child would be removed and placed in a foster home and they would no longer see their parents. The child reconsidered and never threatened it again. Most people do not know what to do when things that used to work, don’t. Like, if they threaten to run away or tell their father who is not there. Simply explaining that the father can not do anything where he is or that running away will get them into more trouble than you often makes them think about the consequences of their actions. If the issue is cleaning up and they won’t. Confiscate the items so you will not have to pick them up again and they will miss them eventually and have more incentive to work with you instead of against you. When you take enough away, they will cooperate more. Make sure that you have somewhere secure, like a room with a lock and you have the key, to store the items you take away and that they can not just go get them. My cable company allows me to turn off Wifi and restrict channels and such. Look for parental controls and ask the companies what is available. You never know unless you ask.

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