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Brats Are Made, Not Born

I was talking to a friend the other day who was telling me about a 40-year old man who threw a temper-tantrum every time he didn’t get his way. While the man was generally a nice guy, his tantrums made everyone around him walk on eggshells. They didn’t know what would set him off or how to avoid it.

This man was a brat — even though his personality was usually nice and easy going. His actions made everyone around him uncomfortable. And his nice-guy persona couldn’t overcome the consequences of his tantrums.

I don’t know the man my friend was telling me about, but his actions reminded me of my kids — when they were three years old. Actually, it probably reminds all of us about young children. These are the actions of a child. Some would call these actions childish. But Scripture calls them the actions of a fool.

To touch a hot pan without knowing the consequences is a childish action. To touch that same pan while knowing the consequences is a foolish action.

When a grown man or woman throws a tantrum, or acts out in any number of other foolish ways, there’s a desired goal in mind. Not only are the consequences known — they are desired. And if you’ve spent any time around kids, you know this is learned at a very young age.

The first time a child throws a tantrum, it causes a reaction in his or her parents. If the child gets a desirable response, you can be sure more tantrums are to follow. If, however, the response is negative, it reduces the likelihood of more tantrums.

Once a child sees favorable responses on an ongoing basis, a habit is formed. At that point, even one or two negative responses won’t stop the child from throwing more tantrums.

It’s almost like the economic law of supply and demand: The more you supply your child’s favored response, the more your child will demand it.

The only way to stop the demand is to cut off the supply of encouraging responses and deliver only undesirable (or negative) responses. If all you do is cut off the supply of encouraging responses, it will likely increase demand. And the price you pay will definitely be much higher.

Any foolish behavior from your child can’t be encouraged. And it can’t be ignored. This article is titled, “Brats Are Made, Not Born.” But they also develop when parents simply ignore the behavior. This usually happens when a parent is tired, busy, or lazy. Whatever you do, take the time to address foolish behavior. If you don’t, you’ll have much worse than a brat on your hands. You’ll have a fool. And the only thing worse than a young fool is allowing a young fool to become an old fool.

Steve Kroening writes for Success magazine and also publishes Wisdom’s Edge. You can get Biblical tips on health, finance, relationships, parenting, and success, delivered to your email inbox every week. Simply visit and sign up for this free e-zine.