Pride in your children comes with the parenthood territory. However, it’s something else when your child tells everyone how great they are. What do you do when your child starts boasting about themselves to everyone they meet? Their well-intentioned behaviour can get old quickly, so learn how stop your child bragging before it becomes a problem.
Why Is My Child Bragging?
Bragging could be a sign of a deeper psychological need for approval. This behaviour is almost always rooted in insecurity. A child bragging could be a sign that they feel deficient and show off to cover that up. Listen to your child and try to notice trends in what your child is bragging about so you can help them feel more secure in those areas.
As a parent, you need to pay attention to your own words, too. It’s one thing to be proud of your child for big achievements, but limit sharing your pride to family and close friends. If your child sees you excessively boasting about them, they’ll learn to model that behaviour. Listen to that voice in the back of your head that says, ‘Stop bragging’. Lead by example, and hopefully prevent minor boasting from becoming a full-blown problem.
Why Is It Important to Stop Boasting?
Most young children are unaware that boasting hurts other children’s feelings. Your boastful child might have difficulty making friends when they offend others, even if they don’t mean to hurt their feelings. This is usually the opposite of what the person who is boasting really wants. If your child announces to another that they are the best reader in the class, for example, your child has just put himself above the other child. Set them up for more social success by explaining how their behaviour can hurt others.
What Can You Do?
You should practice good social skills at home for your children to model. For example, if your child’s conversation skills consist of ‘me, me, me’, show your child how to ask about others instead. You should also demonstrate to your child in a non-defensive and non-threatening way how bragging makes other children feel. You could say, “Bragging makes you seem superior, and that might insult or hurt your friends’ feelings”.
Every child should be complimented on the things they do well, but if you want to stop your child bragging, make sure you don’t go over the top with praise: avoid using words such as ‘incredibly’, ‘perfect’ or ‘the best’. For example, when they come home with a good maths grade, instead of saying “Wow, you’re the best at mental maths”, say “I’m proud of how well you’re doing in mental maths”.
Even if your child is on board and wants to stop the bad behaviour themselves, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and let a boastful comment slip out. As a gentle reminder for older children, use a hand signal every time your child starts to show off. Tug your ear or hold up three fingers when you hear your child start to boast, and they can redirect the conversation themselves.
If you suspect your child’s insecurities are at the root of their boasts, enrol them in activities that emphasise teamwork. Look for areas in which your child can excel, but is not an expert in. This also helps children better tolerate the things they are not as successful at yet. Activities like this can build self-esteem, which helps children abandon this bad habit on their own.
What Do You Tell Other Carers?
All your carefully crafted work to eliminate the boasting can go out the window if their nanny or babysitter isn’t on the same page. Show your child’s carers the signal you use when you catch your child bragging to other children, and ask them to use it, too.
By working together with all of your child’s teachers and carers, you can stop your child bragging before their boasting behaviour gets out of hand. Parents can take active steps to validate their children authentically, which usually decreases boasting behaviour or eliminates it altogether.