In Parenting Help

Responding to Arrogant Children


Have you ever met an arrogant child?

If you’ve been around a group children for more than a few hours, they are hard to miss. Rather than being cooperative and playing in a group-like fashions, arrogant children stand out from the start. They use phrases and statements that are well beyond their years, as if playing a tape recorder at the wrong moment, and they know just enough to use these kinds of statements to put down other children. Clearly something is wrong, but these types of kids just continue on and on, day after day, with the same problem. And then you realize why; arrogant children are allowed to behave the way they do because their parents are okay with it or rarely discipline the child in any kind of a meaningful manner.

Arrogant children are hard to miss. They stand out with bragging, blunt statement, and poor behavior. They are prone to shouting and acting like the king of the mountain on just about everything to the expense of every other child present, even their own siblings. These are the kids that practically scream “Me First!” and make every issue and every activity a race or competition. They also have to make it known that they have things in their life that are better than anyone else, the biggest house, the newest shoes, the best toys, the biggest family car, etc. Both adults and children get annoyed with arrogant characters really quick, and they never seem to learn the concept of humility and tact when everyone else does. Worse, these kids can’t stay quiet about their opinions. Two-thirds of what they think on a topic is borrowed from their parents or older siblings, and the remaining one-third is based on whether they have an immediate desire for something or not. They are the ones who right before a test yell out they will get an “A” and everyone else will flunk. Long story short, the teachers should be directing these kids to the corner immediately but never seem to follow through.

Yet the ironic twist when dealing with arrogant children is that they are for the most part parroting behavior they see at home or among adults around them. If one were to ask them what does arrogant mean, these children may have a very detailed arrogant definition. These kids have actually been exposed to people who compete and see others as less than them earlier in life than other children experience. So, in some respects, arrogant children might actually be step ahead of the pack or learning curve as a result. What’s missing, which is really truthfully missing in every young child, is the understanding of tact and when to hold a comment socially versus blurting out what one thinks.

So how to resolve? The first step is to figure out why a child feels the need to put down others versus just be part of the group and get alone. The reason usually has something to do with a major element missing in the home life, and the competition and arrogance are compensators to offset that deficiency. The issue could be parents not being available and the child spends all day in some kind of daycare, one of the parents is missing, or there is no parental bonding, so the child is mimicking the narcissistic behavior from mom and dad at home. The arrogance towards other children then becomes a shield or cover for what’s really going wrong in the child’s life and psyche. He or she hardens up and puts down other children who can’t be as hard or competitive. If they can step on someone else socially, it reduces the personal pain being felt by the arrogant child’s own loss.

A second scenario may be that the child is being constantly and regularly put down at home as not being good enough in school, in sports, or in general. That receipt of negativity and verbal animosity only builds up in a child until it can be released elsewhere. So, naturally, the child then releases the same as arrogance on someone else, and it is usually another child who is seen as weaker or unable to push back verbally. The behavior is very similar to a repeating cycle in a person abused as a child, so he then turns around and abuses others as an adult. In a twisted way, making someone else feel miserable provides a cathartic feeling for the arrogant child. And until they regain a personal sense of balance and self-confidence, the bad behavior will continue, especially against those seen as weaker.

Ideally, arrogant children need to be changed so that the can once again exhibit a sense of compassion as well as an ability to regulate themselves and control bad behavior towards others. There is nothing wrong with being competitive, but the child needs to be taught when such behavior is appropriate and when it should not be applied. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is not going to come from home. That’s where the problem usually manifests in the first place. The child actually needs to be pulled aside from the group and placed in a “penalty box” of sorts until he or she can cooperate with other children in a productive manner versus being disruptive.

Part of the issue is that the arrogant child believes that not only is the unacceptable behavior okay, but that it also is necessary to get desired incentives. So the fastest way to break this myth is to show the child that not only does the arrogant behavior not produce what is wanted, it actually makes things hard for the child versus those who are well-behaved.

At first an arrogant child will see anyone or any restraint as an immediate threat to his or her defense mechanism. So the child will likely lash out instead of being receptive. The restraint or separation from the group needs to be maintained and reinforced until the child realizes that continuing the behavior won’t produce better results. This “penalty box” approach takes patience because it generally involves behavior modification at the mental level first and then social level.

When child begins to soften up, then additional lessons can be applied building on the concept of cooperation, teamwork, social equity, and compassion. Unfortunately, this process can involve a series of fallbacks and steps forward. This is especially the case when the formerly arrogant child goes back home and continues to receive the same negative treatment that started the process in the first place. So the behavior modification must have the parents’ involvement. They too need to see and realize that their behavior is as much a part of the problem as their child’s behavior. Again, resistance is often the first reaction. Parents are often very quick to defend their children and defend others before finding fault. And they don’t take kindly to someone outside telling them how to be a parent, especially if they have or are raising more than one child. So patience and persistence is needed in the process as well.

Some parents won’t cooperate and will go even so far as to remove their child from the social environment and place them in another similar setting away from the first group and first set of instructors. This is unavoidable, but the child is likely to end up with the same results as well as the parents. A child who can adapt and find a role in social interaction will quickly become a repeat discipline case many times, bringing the parents back into meetings with administrators.

Arrogant children aren’t born that way; they learn their habits from someone or something. The trick to solving the problem is to identify the cause and then help the child overcome their negative influence.

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