Good Kids, Bratty Behavior

Problem: Acting Obnoxious and Rude

Fear Factor: "My child will grow up to be obnoxious and rude."

Trouble Signs: Poor manners are pretty obvious: Does he interrupt when others are speaking? Does he refuse to say "please" or "thank you?" All little kids are obnoxious at times. Does yours seem worse than the rest of the gang?

Fast Fix: When you catch him doing something rude, speak to him in private about exactly why his behavior -- belching on purpose, snatching the last cupcake, or scorning a gift -- is wrong. "Often, parents simply say, 'That's rude.' To a child, that's too abstract," says Lawrence Cohen, PhD, a psychologist and author of Playful Parenting. You need to explain why it's wrong for him to say "I hate that book" to his grandmother. Explain that saying thank you for a gift -- even if you don't love it -- is important because it makes the person who gave it to you feel good.

Lesson for Life: It's your job to teach him the right way to act in social settings, so be sure to consistently remind your little one to be kind and polite. By 3, a child can grasp the basics of good manners -- sharing, taking turns, not interrupting -- if you've emphasized them at home. But even when kids know how to behave, they tend to forget their manners, so practice, practice, practice. Play up the "please" and "thank you" at home. Whenever possible, remind him ahead of time what's expected. Does he have a friend coming over to play? Talk about the importance of sharing toys. And always be a good role model. If he sees that you always thank him, he'll eventually do the same.

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