November 9, 2016 AM I THE BRATTY LITTLE SISTER?? Hi Nikki! You know how you always complain about having a bratty little sister? Well, sometimes I feel like I’M the bratty sister! I try to do what my parents say, but then I completely forget and lose it. Please help me!! The Brat In The Hat Hi there! I’m trying to imagine Brianna writing in to some Princess Sugar Plum website, concerned that maybe SHE’S too bratty! LOL!! But seriously, it’s a good sign that you’re AWARE of your bratty behavior. I’m pretty sure Brianna has NO idea how annoying she is. Completely sure, actually. So there’s no way you’re as bad as she is. And the thing is, it’s not really fair of me to expect Brianna to be a little angel all the time. Because she’s only SIX. The truth is, she’s acting exactly right for her age. (Though I will absolutely deny saying that if she or my parents ever ask. This message will self-destruct as soon as you read it. Or something.) Did you know our brains don’t fully develop, especially in the self-control areas, until our early 20’s?? That doesn’t mean we’re off the hook for everything. But it DOES mean it’s normal to lose your temper sometimes. Or act out in annoying ways, especially around your family, who have to love you no matter what. I mean, we all have bad days. No one has perfect self-control. But maybe there are some things you could do to help keep things a little controlled. Here are a few ideas (that I wish Brianna would try…): Remember that feelings and behavior are different things. It’s okay to FEEL mad, sad, frustrated or whatever, but it’s not okay to act out on those emotions by hitting, screaming, or whatever else you might do when you “lose it.” The key, when you’re having feelings like that, is to find a way to deal with those feelings. Physical activity is a really good way to channel those feelings. That could mean running up and down the stairs five times, running around the outside of your house twice, or getting on a trampoline. It could even mean taking up a sport, or a regular activity like jogging. Sports AND fine arts can be great for developing self-control, because you have to work with others, be disciplined, take criticism and instruction, be patient while you’re learning, etc. So if you’ve always wanted to join a soccer team or take a drama class, now might be a good time! When you feel a strong impulse coming on, learn to step back and give yourself a minute before acting on it. Maybe that means you do calming breathing exercises, count to ten (or more), or step outside for a minute. It’s like putting yourself in time out, but it’s not a punishment. It’s a way to give yourself time to catch up with your impulse. And not all impulses are bad! Sometimes it’s okay to lose it. You’re a kid! And you’re a little sister! It’s kind of your job to be annoying sometimes. (Do NOT tell Brianna I said that!!!!) Whether you’re a younger sibling or not, how do you control yourself when you feel like you’re going to lose it? How do you respond when younger siblings are SO ANNOYING????