How to teach your child NOT to brag

Teaching your child humility can be a tough task. Especially at a young age. You might even think if they even need humility? Won’t they just pick it along the way? Here’s the deal though.. there’s a wee bit of difference between a 2-year-old bragging that he put on his pants all by himself is very different from a 6-year-old bragging that he aced every single test, that he’s the best (what you’ve probably parroted to him many times over) and so on. It’s still cute. But just crossing the line to pompous. So, here are some tips to try and tone it down just a bit

1. SHOW them.
Many kids this age don’t understand what it means to brag.  They are telling you how they did and they don’t know why they shouldn’t be doing it.   Start by explaining what bragging really is and why it can hurt other’s feelings.   Explain that bragging is when you talk about how the things that you do or own are better than someone else.  It makes people feel bad because they don’t have it or can’t do it and then they are sad.”  Ask them how they would feel if the roles were reversed and talk about some nice ways to show your accomplishments.

2. Don’t brag in front of them.
I will sometimes joke to my friends that “Well…. you know that I’m the best mom in the world, right?”  until I heard our son say “You know that I’m the best football player in the world, right?”  then it hit me:  I was teaching him to brag.   He was young, four years old, but the words that I said as a joke became his reality.   Kids follow our lead.  Practicing humility is important, even for adults.

Instead of saying “You are the smartest kid ever”, try saying something like, “You must be proud of yourself for learning so many math facts.  You must be studying hard.”   Sincere ‘pats on the back’ are more effective anyway.

3. Good self esteem. 
This is the goal, right?  A gloating, boastful child relies on the feedback of others, while a child with good self-esteem relies on his own feelings.   Talk to the child about how they feel when others brag… “How did you feel when John showed you his brand new baseball cards and said that he had the best ones and no one else had them?”   When he says ,”sad” talk about why that was bragging and how John could have showed him the cards without being boastful about it.

4. Understand. 
Everyone wants to brag, sometimes.  We want to share our accomplishments.  I still call my mom to tell her when things go well.  I tell my kids that it is o to tell family or close friends, because we understand and we are excited.  It isn’t ok to say it in front of a friend that doesn’t have it or can’t do it.  We can make them feel bad.

5. Have a sign. 
Talk to your child about recognizing the bragging.  Have a sign and when your child starts to brag, you can do the sign to remind him to try not to brag.  Maybe it is tapping your nose or rubbing both eyes or tapping your foot… think of some way to help him remember not to brag in front of peers.

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