The first rule of being a brat is that rules were meant to be broken.
Brats are one of the more misunderstood, complex groups within BDSM dynamics. Our introduction to the term ‘brat’ is typically related to the behavior of a difficult or spoiled child. It takes on a negative connotation in this context. While there is a different meaning in BDSM, our understanding of a brat in the kinky sense does not differ all too much from the behaviors of children or animals.
A brat is someone who enjoys being mischievous, disobedient, and cheeky to their partner, usually lightheartedly. The behavior could be to invoke a variety of reactions from their partner. Brattiness may be temporary or enduring. Some refer to bratting as play, where others see it as an identity. More often it is submissives who identify as brats, though Dominants can be bratty in their own right! The brat moniker is not gender-specific—anyone can be a brat.
Laughing in your face when told what to do, being particular about the way you make a request, and in its simplest form ‘no’ are all examples of brattiness. None of these actions are bratty on their own, it is the context that gives them flavor. As many kinks are rooted in psychological ties, understanding motivation helps one better communicate with the individual in question.
To understand a brat is to understand their motivation. There is a common misconception that all brats crave punishment or wish to be tamed. This is one of those ‘what is true for one is not true for all scenarios. There are plenty of reasons a brat ‘acts out’ or causes chaos and only one of them could be for the sake of punishment. To understand a brat you need to figure out what motivates them—and it could be a combination of many! The motivation should influence your reactions whether you are looking to adjust their behavior or appease them. The key is working with the brat, not against them.
Attention: Some brats like all eyes on them. For those, the chaos they create should be viewed as goddamn adorable. You may need to withhold or give more attention to adjust their behavior.
Trust: Acting out is often used as a test to see if you are worthy of their trust. Can they trust you? Will you only stay when they are compliant? Patience. Loyalty. Consistency. These are key to earning this brat’s trust. If you can withstand the brat’s behavior whilst demonstrating continuity with your character or attention, you just might get it.
Autonomy: Testing authority is for the sake of exerting autonomy with this brat. Rigid rules are rejected as they prefer to feel that they are part of a team and not beneath you. Carve out space where they can act autonomously and say ‘no’ to their heart's content.
Tamed/Corraled: A brat may test boundaries in the hopes of being tamed or corralled. This taming may look different to each brat. Still, some want to remain feral cats who happen to find themselves indoors.
Punishment: Sometimes called “funishment” when the act is enjoyable, the draw to this motivator could be the punishment itself or the act of pushing someone to the point of punishment. The brat needs to agree to the punishment and method of punishment prior for this one!
Struggle: Acting out may not be about the subsequent actions but for the feeling of the struggle. This may be strongly related to an autonomy motivation too. The struggle can be mental, verbal, or physical! This brat may enjoy a continuous exchange of power or role reversal similar to what you can find in play-fighting.
If a brat is not responding the way you'd like to your chosen method of punishment or reward… you're probably using the wrong method of punishment or reward.
"How does someone earn your respect?" / "How does someone lose your respect?"
Wouldn’t you want to have a blueprint for earning someone’s trust? Instead of throwing darts, understand what actions and traits this person values. Especially if trust is one of a brat’s motivators, understanding how to both gain and lose their respect is very important if you want this brat to remotely listen to you.
"What do you require before you submit to someone?"
Most brats would never submit to someone right away. They’d sooner laugh in your face if the first thing you utter is a command to call you ‘Sir.’ Demonstrate that you have the patience to put the time in and earn their submission, cause rarely is it given on a platter.
"How do you prefer receiving instruction or criticism?"
If there’s one word that sums up brats the best it is particular. If you’re a brat you might find this applicable to more than your BDSM activities. Do they prefer specific instruction or given the goal to determine how or when they get there? Instruction and criticism can both be tools of power, therefore are extra important to make sure you’re executing on a playing ground that feels fair to all parties.
"When you brat, what are you looking for from me?"
Not sure what their motivator is or how to respond? Ask them! Does “make me” really mean they want you to force them or is that their method of exerting autonomy?
At the end of the day, brats are not for everyone. We are an acquired taste, but for those who do enjoy us: we are really fucking fun. Who would enjoy the brat? Someone who gets bored easily, someone who likes to be kept on their toes, someone patient, someone who likes a challenge, or someone who likes playfulness. Brats can often be a chess match or a puzzle. Sometimes they'll give you a key or a guide and sometimes that key or guide will feel useless.
I don’t make the rules, I just break ‘em.
Lola Jean's Brat Support Group