When your adult child is a brat

Tips to help you deal with your spoilt adult child who re­fuses to grow up

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Boi­tumelo Mat­shaba

WHEN your young child starts act­ing like a spoilt brat, as a par­ent, you should show them how to be­have and out­grow their be­hav­iour. How­ever, you may have a lot on your hands if the spoilt brat is your adult child who re­fuses to grow up. Alessan­dra New­ton, who is a coun­sel­lor, and Erene Mitchell, a coun­selling so­cial worker, both based in Joburg, give tips on how to deal with an adult who re­fuses to grow up.

CHAR­AC­TER­IS­TICS OF A BRAT

In African fam­i­lies, grown spoilt brats are usu­ally those who refuse to eat pap on a Sun­day as they pre­fer to eat rice and sal­ads, but do not con­trib­ute to­wards the gro­ceries or any­thing around the house.

They watch TV or play mu­sic the whole day, not al­low­ing the lit­tle ones time to watch car­toons.

They prob­a­bly also drive their par­ents’ car more of­ten than them, even though they do not work or re­fill the petrol.

Alessan­dra de­scribes a grown spoilt brat as some­one who re­ally takes no re­spon­si­bil­ity for them­selves or their ac­tions. They are very choosy and of­ten un­grate­ful. “Th­ese types of adults blame their par­ents, God or the world for ev­ery­thing that goes wrong in their lives. They have a sense of en­ti­tle­ment and ev­ery­thing is about them,” she says.

Alessan­dra says many of them still live at home and de­pend en­tirely on their par­ents.

She says they could be lazy and ex­pect things to be done for them with­out work­ing for those things.

“If they have chil­dren, they are un­likely to take care of them. Many of th­ese brats never want to help out with chores such as clean­ing, cook­ing and laun­dry. They use their par­ents for the lat­est smart phones and fancy clothes,” she says.

HOW TO DEAL WITH THE BE­HAV­IOUR

Ac­cord­ing to Alessan­dra, you need to un­der­stand that as a par­ent, you are some­how re­spon­si­ble for the way your child turns out.

She says the best way for you to deal with an adult with this kind of be­hav­iour is to give them tough love, adding that if you have spoilt chil­dren, you prob­a­bly weren't tough enough on them.

She ad­vises that you learn to use the word ‘no’ more of­ten with them.

She also says it is a good idea to mo­ti­vate your child to get a job and con­trib­ute to­wards the house­hold ex­penses and sup­port them­selves.

“Stop giv­ing your child money and buy­ing them clothes and fancy gad­gets so that they can un­der­stand that they need to work hard for th­ese things,” says Alessan­dra.

Erene says the truth is that family mem­bers con­trib­ute to how one of them turns out.

“The family dy­nam­ics re-en­forces the be­hav­iour of chil­dren. When par­ents go through a divorce,

it can af­fect the child neg­a­tively,” she says. “Be­cause the child is un­der strain with changes in the family struc­ture, par­ents might spoil the child to make them feel bet­ter, un­know­ingly rais­ing a brat. It is also dif­fi­cult to teach them to be­come bet­ter adults when they get older and the dam­age has al­ready been done.”

AN UN­DER­LY­ING CAUSE OF THE BE­HAV­IOUR

Adding a dif­fer­ent view on the topic, Erene says some­times the child is not be­ing lazy or spoilt, but may be suf­fer­ing from a per­son­al­ity dis­or­der which was never di­ag­nosed.

She ex­plains two per­son­al­ity dis­or­ders your child may be suf­fer­ing from: Nar­cis­sis­tic per­son­al­ity dis­or­der: Some­one who has this kind of dis­or­der is un­able to feel em­pa­thy for oth­ers, has a strong sense of en­ti­tle­ment and tends to ex­ploit oth­ers to get what they want.

Bor­der­line per­son­al­ity dis­or­der: Peo­ple with this dis­or­der can get ag­gres­sive very quickly, es­pe­cially when they are be­ing cor­rected or crit­i­cised. They are emo­tion­ally un­sta­ble and have a low self-es­teem as a re­sult ex­pe­ri­ence feel­ings of empti­ness.

Erene ex­plains that some adults who are still liv­ing with their par­ents refuse to work or start their own busi­nesses. She says they may have pre­vi­ously failed nu­mer­ous times and are now scared to try any­thing with the fear that it would also fail.

“It is im­por­tant for you not to be too quick to judge with­out un­der­stand­ing your child's sit­u­a­tion. You need to see how you can en­cour­age your child to pick them­selves up and not give up,” she says.

AF­FECT­ING THE FAMILY

Alessan­dra says hav­ing a family mem­ber who is be­hav­ing like a spoilt brat can af­fect the whole family neg­a­tively and cause ten­sion.

She says as this child may not be used to shar­ing and may not be com­fort­able when their sib­lings who have moved out of the home come to visit. “They feel as though their sib­lings are go­ing to take their space and the at­ten­tion away from them. They could also make the other sib­lings re­sent com­ing home be­cause they con­stantly have to part with money to give the adult child who lives at home,” says Alessan­dra.

“You may be on pen­sion and wish­ing to travel, spoil your grand­chil­dren or re­vamp your home with your pen­sion money, but can­not do this be­cause you are tak­ing care of an adult who re­fuses to take care of them­selves.”

In the case where you be­lieve your child might have a per­son­al­ity dis­or­der, Erene says your child should be taken for ther­apy and coun­selling.

In­sti­tu­tions such as The Family Life Cen­tre (Famsa) help fam­i­lies with coun­selling.

“Give your child enough time and at­ten­tion to help them deal with their dis­or­der. You also need to un­der­stand your child’s dis­or­der and how to live and man­age it. Throw­ing ma­te­ri­als at a per­son with a per­son­al­ity dis­or­der will not make it go away, they will need as much sup­port and pa­tience as pos­si­ble,” she says.

CAN CHANGE OC­CUR?

Alessan­dra says change for such a per­son is tough, but not im­pos­si­ble. “To get help, the in­di­vid­ual should con­sider coun­selling. Those who feel they need help should go out and find work and know what it feels like to be re­spon­si­ble,” she says.

“They can be cre­ative and start their own busi­ness by selling things they made them­selves or of­fer ser­vices such as paint­ing and gar­den­ing in the com­mu­nity, pro­vided they are good at those things. This will help them net­work with oth­ers and spot op­por­tu­ni­ties out there.”

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