The making of a spoilt brat

When Aaron moved back home to live with us after residing for a few years at my mother’s house, I noticed the way he spoke and acted towards me was very much like how my mother treated the maid – rude and impatient. He expected instant service and anything I did that displeased him would result in him making tsk! tsk! sound. I had to remind him constantly that I was his mother, and even if I was his maid, that behaviour was totally unacceptable. It took me two years but he is now a changed boy.

My nephew is two years old and I witness how a spoilt brat he is slowly but surely becoming. Rude, disrespectful and downright spoilt. I’d use the word 目中无人. If the adults around him, other than his Dagu, do not discipline him when he misbehaves, then it’s no wonder.

When he is rude to his caregiver or any other adults, no one corrects him. If he cries before his meal is over, he is allowed to not finished his meal. I fear if I were to list more, I am instead perceived as being too strict and kaypoh (busybody). Afterall, Seb is not my son.

The making of a spoilt brat was demonstrated for Seb’s grandfather to see when he visited. Seb wanted to eat the vitamin. Instead of telling him no, his caregiver gave all sorts of excuse like how the vitamin bag cannot be opened (think he is so stupid?) and tried to distract him. I told her to just tell him no and when she did that, he immediately threw a tantrum (expected because no on in the family ever says no to him). (Lesson: One should never leave vitamins or pills within the reach of kids, or use vitamins as treats!)

Seb’s Grandfather bought him a toy computer when he visited and as Uncle and I were trying to figure out how it works, Seb wanted it back. I told him to say ‘Please’. He refused and started crying and screaming. My mother picked him up and told me to give it back to him. I told my mother off – Seb has to learn to be patient. Immediately, with eyes glaring largely at me and without caring that we had guests, my mother practically shouted, ‘He is just a baby!’ I retorted he is not and she then she said something which touched a nerve with me. “When I scolded Ivan when he was this age, you told me to stop and said he was a baby too!” Without another word, I gave her back the toy. (It’s unfair to compare for Ivan’s case was a difficult and bad history altogether.)

Much was written recently about moral and civic education in school but I think this education begins at home. The maid is not the best person to impart value on a child but to be fair, Seb’s caregiver tries her best but is often brushed off by my mother. The caregiver confessed it’s frustrating looking after Seb when he disobeys her, especially in school. Granted, Grandmothers’ role is to spoil a child, but only when it’s on a occaional visit but not on a daily basis.

I know, being a School Family Education (SFE) coordinator does not make me a parenting expert. I can only continue to be the bad guy in the family and continue to instill discipline and punishment when I see fit. It’s difficult, having to clash with my mother over the maids before, and now over the upbringing of her grandson.

Perhaps I should just close one eye.


About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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17 Responses to The making of a spoilt brat

  1. SP says:

    I meet way too many Seb’s around in trains, food courts, etc. and I hate them with a passion. I always wondered: why would anyone close one eye and let a child grow into a hated presence?

    I’m glad you put your foot down with Aaron. All the best in parenting and your work.

  2. tim says:

    fortunately…they tend to outgrow this…once they reach a certain age, with the interactions they will get with friends and family as time passes, it will set them straight…

  3. Deborah says:

    I really doubt you’ll able to close one eye.:p
    I agree that inoculating values should begin from home! Kids are imitators of the people they are most often with!

    I cannot imagine a society of leaders who are rude, complacent and only thinking about self. That would be SCARY!

    And whilst we teach children values, maybe someone should also highlight the importance of responsible parenting:)

  4. Eric Cheong says:

    I feel for you. I too hate such children with a vengeance, especially those who hit their elders and scold them for being stupid. Even nearly got into a scuffle with a stranger once who didn’t know how to discipline his own kid who was spitting at the sales girls in the shop… Which is why i never allow my nieces to do sh*t like Seb when i am at home. Luckily my dad, mum, sis and brother in law share my attitude and i can see my nieces growing up into well-behaved children and hopefully a better adult.

    For those who said “because he is not your kid” i will beg to differ because I hold back at my nieces but i won’t do so for my own kids.

    You must never close 1 eye and as his elder, you have every right to discipline him and tell anyone else who stops you from doing so, OFF.

  5. Bri@n says:

    I hope my cousin can see this article… But can’t tell him straight in the face… >.<

  6. Children learn by observing the adults around them. A friend of mine has a nephew who is being raised by his grandparents as both parents are working long hours. This 6-year old has grown into a thoroughly spoilt brat – breaking salt and pepper shakers whenever they eat out, insisting on having his way in public areas, eating as much junk as he wants to and generally being rude to adults as if everyone is his servant. My friend spent about a week on a trip with them (child and grandparents) and at the end of it, there was an inkling of change as he learned from my friend that it’s good to serve the elders food first at a table (the boy asked why, my friend told him it was out of respect for one’s elders, and he just accepted it as an undeniable truth. Simple as that!). So there’s hope yet especially if well-meaning adults around the child is brave enough to be ‘kay-poh’ as I believe that it does take a village to raise a child…

  7. Kak Lis says:

    Vicky, you have my support in discipling. I am another tough mother and I know exactly how you feel. I have problems communicating with both my mother and mil. But, like you said, grandmothers’ role is to spoil the kids. So I am letting it be and I am monitoring that those moments should be occasional visits. Thank God, I found someone like me. 🙂

  8. roni63 says:

    Hi. I can most certainly understand your frustrations. Your little nephew at the tender age of 2 is only just beginning to learn about the complex world around around him. He has so much to learn. He has to learn all about who he is and who all of you are.

    Seth at this age is at what we call, an egocentric age. Which means, he is capable of only seeing things from his own perspective. He is only able to understand his own feelings, his own pain. Children must acquire intra skills before inter skills. Therefore, it is very hard for him to understand what it is that you want from him or others want from him. And right now, he is getting very mixed messages from the people around him. Granny allows me to do whatever I want, my caregiver most of the time allows me to do whatever I want, my aunty allows me to do what I want some of the time and not all of the time. The child is confused!

    Your family has to realise that there must be one voice, one message. If one adult tells him that he can do a certain thing, then all the adults must be telling him the same thing. There must be consistency. Sure, the child will cry because he doesn’t understand why he cannot do something that he wants to do. That is why patient explanation must comes in. The adult must explain to the child, “Seth, I know you love to take your vitamins. What a good boy you are. But we can only take one a day. Tomorrow, you get to take another one. Isn’t that great?” The boy is not going to think it is great. He is going to kick up a fuss. That is where he is offered an alternative. How about you have one gummy instead?” (One gummy, go play blocks, go do something else, anything, any alternative that will distract the child but do not give in to the child if taking vitamins more than a day is not recommended). And you are absolutely right! The vitamins should not have been left out in full view of the child. The child does not understand that vitamins can only be taken once a day. These days vitamins are made in such a way that they taste like sweets so obviously Seth is going to want to take a vitamin if he sees it.

    There is never a need to “close an eye”. There is never a need to punish. There is only a need to discipline. Discipline means “to teach”. And to teach a child, what we need to do is to love, be consistent, and to be constant. And remember, One Voice, One Message. And always, always, explain to Seth your decisions. He may not understand immediately but as he matures, as his brain develops to have the capacity to understand concepts, he will understand and appreciate your decisions and even agree with them. Oh yes, you must provide Seth with alternatives. He is young, he is not capable of think of alternatives like we can. “I can do this, I will go find something else to do”. That he is not capable of doing

    One final thing, can I invite you to be a friend of

    This is a page that provides resources, articles, stories and songs for children, and a host of other things for all adults that have dealings with all children.

    Don’t “close an eye”. You can write to me any time whenever you find an obstacle with Seth either though “I Am A Human Being Too” or at my personal email, I have been in the “business” of children for more than 20 years and if there is one thing I am passionate about, it is children. I believe that we can make children leaders of tomorrow or our criminals of tomorrow. And children are our future. They are going to be our decision makers. We have to teach them well, in the most loving way.

    Good Luck Vicky Chong

    With the kindest regards,
    Veronica Denise Goh
    I Am A Human Being Too

    • vickychong says:

      Thank you Veronica for advice. I am certain the comment is as helpful to my family and I, as well as to the sudden surge of readers of this post. I agree with what you wrote, unfortunately, to practise is hard when the matriarch has her own set of ways and there are too many differing parenting views within the family. Still, deeply appreciated.

  9. roni63 says:

    Sorry, I realised the name was Seb and not Seth. My apologies.

  10. Trebuchet says:

    Heh. As an uncle with several nieces and nephews, the long-term payoff is worth it. There’s also a side-benefit…

    I am firm with my ‘No’ and fair with my praise (you say, “Good!” once when they do the right thing, no clapping of hands or big celebrations; you can do that if they do something truly wonderful on their own initiative). The surprising and unexpected thing is that the young like you for that. You can become favourite aunty/uncle just by being honest with them while encouraging good behaviour in normal ways. Not that this is the objective, but it’s a side-benefit. 🙂

  11. roni63 says:

    Thank you Vicky for your very kind response. It is very true about what you said. Is there no way that you can speak with your mom to show her that one message to Seb would be the kinder way to him in the long run? Show her that providing Seb with alternatives can make him just as happy. Sometimes, it is that not the child that we have to be firm with, it is the adult. Hang in there Vicky! And as I said, write to me if you want. Griping is sometimes good for the soul. And if you want, send me an email and I will give you my telephone number. What better than to have someone to get your frustrations out with! I can help. Anytime!

    • vickychong says:

      Haha, thanks for reading my gripes! Seb can be a sweetie when my mother is not around. He knows when he can get his way. Thanks for your generosity. I saw your FB page. Will keep you in mind.

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