How not to raise a brat

RAISING a child in today's complex world has never been more challenging, and a James Cook University researcher believes there are ways it can be done better to ensure children don't turn into brats.

JCU (Singapore) researcher and psychotherapist, Dr Foo Koong Hean has studied how parents with up to three children raise their kids, and he says for many, traditional parenting is not working.

"The world is so complex today compared with the past. There are dangers as well as opportunities out there. So what is the best parenting style to ensure your child doesn't turn into a brat?"

"My research shows that many parents devote themselves to their children, and hope their children will return the favour when they are older and need their support. My research shows few children return the favour," Dr Foo says.

Dr Foo said children seldom face "no" for an answer, and parents spoke for their children and defended their actions frequently.

"Children turn out self-centred, disrespectful, impatient, have unrealistic expectations, need instant gratification, and hold a sense of entitlement-these are the qualities of a brat!" Dr Foo said.

"Values and principles are not taught at home. For example, many children are told they don't need to do housework, they are served food at meal times that they need not help prepare, and they're provided with the latest electronic devices that they didn't have to work for."

Through his research, Dr Foo believes the solution to today's parenting problems can be found in what he calls 'negotiation parenting', a parenting style he has designed.

"Negotiation parenting is about making decisions that will help nurture and develop your children," Dr Foo said.

"It involves using current knowledge on human development and the environment, along with guidance from professionals or other recognised sources, to negotiate the most suitable pathways for children's growth.

"For example, it focuses on making informed choices to eat well, to understand human relationships, and avoid dangers while allowing the child to explore his or her surroundings. Essentially, the parents negotiate the journey for a child when it is young."

Dr Foo said negotiation parenting also involved using philosophy, business principles (use of facts in discussions), family and culture (adherence to a set of values and virtues), and teaching and learning strategies.

"All parents want the best for their newborn. Parents need to combine these approaches, and through the application of this parenting style, satisfy and fulfil the proper upbringing of their children."



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