Dealing with a Pouting Child – How to Stop the Problem

People who pout are annoying. The fundamental psychological premise behind pouting is a feeling of entitlement and selfishness; neither of which are endearing characters. The definition of pout is “sullenness or disdain’” also two unattractive human qualities. As adults, when you encounter someone who seems to pout and intentionally attempts to hold others hostage with their emotional sabotage it can be maddening! Adults who pout started out as children who pouted and have learned through life that their pouting works for them. When you are dealing with a pouting child, envision the consequence for not dealing with the problem during their youth!’

Every parent knows children pout. You tell them they can’t have the cookie until after dinner and they sit on the floor, arms crossed, with a poked out lip and furrowed brow that is almost laughable. Some children take their pouting to another level and cry and scream and become somewhat manic. The bottom line is that in order to teach a child that pouting is a useless endeavor you must remain completely adamant that you will succumb parental guilt and not give in! No matter what! When parents begin giving in to the different levels of pouting; whether because they feel bad or because they just want their child to hush they are risking their child to live a life of selfishness.

The school of hard knocks tells us that rarely do we always get what we want in life. Sometimes we get what we need and it turns out to be something we wanted and other times we don’t really know what we want and pout out of conflict. When a children pouts because they don’t get their way and is given in to they are being rewarded for their behavior and being shown conclusively that it works. As entitlement sets in the child will at some point pout about everything and in every situation. This may have worked well at home but rarely works well with teachers or in social situations. There will always be people in this world who are overly sensitive to the desires of others and most likely a pouting child will find them and keep them as close friends and even mates later in life. But at some point; that mode of manipulation will cease to work and will be a surefire way to set a child up for failure, humiliation and the learning of one of the hardest knock lessons in life. We don’t always get what we want!

Pouting is in fact manipulation. Even a child can be displeased or unhappy about the outcome of a situation and not revert to pouting. That is called disappointment. Children need to learn that disappointment exists and that by reacting with integrity they can learn from the situation. When you are dealing with a pouting child it is best to ignore it. Trying to talk through the lesson or drive home your point of even explain in full detail what is going on only feeds into your child’s ability to manipulate. As they notice that they are causing concern from mom and dad and receiving attention for their behavior they will begin to do it more often. Keep in mind that when a person pouts they are relying on feelings of guilt from another person and are attempting to manipulate others.

As soon as parent begin questioning their judgment and giving in to the pouting of their children they are effectively setting their child up for a life of entitlement. Giving them the cookie you told them they couldn’t have because you hate to see them upset shows a great lack of understanding for the importance of setting limits in life. Sure, the cookie may not have hurt a thing and it certainly isn’t worth crying over a cookie- but since it isn’t worth crying over; you must be the one to express that to your child through actions. Life brings about plenty of situations that prompt crying or emotional upset and not getting a cookie is definitely not one of them. If you cave and hand them the cookie because of guilt you are depriving your child of the ability to accept things in life. You are depriving them of the opportunity to respect others and to follow rules. This will hurt them in school and for the remainder of their life. All because you kept on giving them those cookies before dinner’…think about it!

Of course kids want their parents to feel guilty. Teens are the worst pouters of all and since they are more advanced in knowing the idiosyncrasies of their parents they can inflict emotional pain while pouting. That is their job! If it makes you feel bad or hurts your feelings never let it show in front of your teen. Think back to when you didn’t let your child eat the yellow snow and they screamed in anger ‘“I hate you‘” and you will notice that this state of mind is just a temporary thing. Children love their parents even when decisions and rules are made that they think are unfair. Children need parents who are willing to put their foot down, stand their ground and mean what they say who don’t give in to the selfish act of pouting.

If you are dealing with a child who is pouting it might be best to walk away into a room where you can laugh at them in private. The means that children will go to to get their pouting noticed are comical and the looks on their faces are priceless. Few things can make a parent hold their bellies in laughter than their 4 year old who is staring at them with a mean face, wrinkled fore head and puffy lips. don’t give in! Pouting will probably never completely go away but as long as children see that their efforts do not work and that they aren’t able to constantly manipulate, invoke guilt and control others with their pouting they will be less inclined to carry it with them as an issue of their overall personality.



3 Responses

  1. You should be ashamed of yourself for this article, which amounts to directly condoning emotional abuse of children. Let me say that again: you are encouraging emotional abuse of CHILDREN. A child does not understand or engage in intentional “manipulation” – a child is just trying to get their emotional needs met or to express their emotions the only way they know how. A child pouts because they are upset and do not yet have the tools to express their emotions in a healthy or mature way. Ignoring, laughing, and otherwise being harsh to a pouting child is absolute cruelty. Instead, a parent should talk through what is wrong and help them to use their words to express their feelings. That does not mean “giving in” – it means approaching your child with compassion and mature understanding. You say that the “I hate you” from a child will be temporary, but in fact I can assure you that as a middle aged adult, I will never forgive my parents for mocking me when I pouted – because I was in fact severely depressed due to the emotionally abusive environment in my home, and my pouting was the only was I knew to express my deep sadness. Shame on you for this article and I feel sorry for the children who will suffer because of it.

    1. Wow! Lonicera, I’m so sorry for the deep sadness you experienced in your early years and beyond. I also feel sad that you’re now a middle-aged adult and feeling triggered by this article.

      I’m not the author. I’m just a mom who woke up early on a Saturday morning feeling deeply concerned for a daughter who destroys every relationship through pouting. I don’t know how many more friend groups she can burn through in her school before she’s burned all the bridges.

      We’ve been racking our brains for 7 years on how to give our daughter enough love, attention, and affection. I’ve taken solo vacations with her. I’ve set up weekly lunch appointments to check her out of school and go shopping. I coach her elite volleyball team and play in tournaments with her. I host Taco Tuesday for all of her friends every Tuesday afternoon. I tried purchasing her a therapy horse and spending time with her at riding lessons each week. None of it matters. In the end she repeatedly chooses self or solution. We’ve taught her the appropriate tools for tactful communication. Although my husband and I don’t mock and mimic her pouting, we don’t reward bad behavior. We carefully explain to her what expectations are reasonable, what her behavior looks like, and alternative solutions. Yet over the years her failure to adapt has become annoying and her siblings now mock her. Honestly, she gets no pay off for her pouting and she continues.

      It’s not because she’s been emotionally “abused” in any way. It’s because she’s chosen to tell a story to herself. She tells herself that her lot is worse than it should be. She tells herself that life is unfair. She tells herself that she should punish others for her disappointments when she doesn’t get her way. She attempts to hold people hostage to her demands on a daily basis. Holding people hostage to your desires is manipulation and coercion. It’s evil and carnal. You may say that children do not manipulate, but there are thousands of reports with behavioral evidence that suggests otherwise.

      We’ve tried getting professional help and paid $120 a session for counseling with a licensed clinical social worker. We offered her to counsel with one of us or have privacy in the session. Regardless of whether we were there or not she refused to speak or respond to the counselor. Not a single word. She wasted $120/hour for six straight sessions.

      So instead of lashing out at the author and assuming that someone who pouts selfishly is innocent and a victim of their environment, we’d all rather hear what tools help you express your deep sadness?

      1. You basically just wrote a description of my seven year old girl.. it’s so hard sometimes to know what to do..

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