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How not to raise a brat in today’s busy, complex world

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Fri, 30 Oct 2015
How not to raise a brat in today’s busy, complex world

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.

He says children seldom face “no” for an answer, and parents speak for their children and defend 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 says.

“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.”

“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,” Dr Foo says.

“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 says negotiation parenting also involves 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 (parents ought to know their child’s perception, thinking, attention, and communication patterns before engaging with their children).

“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.”

For interviews please contact Dr Foo:

+6567093736 (Singapore)

[email protected]

Image of Dr Foo:


Dr Foo Koong Hean lectures psychology at James Cook University’s Singapore campus. He is also a consultant psychologist at The School of Positive Psychology Singapore. He has a PhD in Psychology and a Post-graduate Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. He has extensive experience in practicing psychotherapy and has run a childcare centre in Singapore.

Dr Foo’s research and publications have focused on parenting styles and practices and child-parent relationships, and he has given numerous talks on these subjects.

Additional information about negotiation parenting can be found in Dr Foo's book:

"Negotiation Parenting: Or how not to raise a brat in today’s complex world”

Link to book/e-book: