There are plenty of ways to teach children not to brag. By teaching humility and leading by example, parents can support their children’s achievements or success while consciously steering them away from having an inflated ego. With an awareness of peer comparisons, parents can help children avoid bragging and turn them into supportive individuals. Fair-minded parents can promote a humble attitude while praising their child and fully acknowledging the efforts and accomplishments of others.
What is Bragging?
In the simplest terms, bragging is all about boasting. When a person of any age boasts about their accomplishments, status, or possessions, they are bragging. Adults may have a hard time recognizing their arrogance, but children can be taught not to brag.
To inhibit self-importance, parents can encourage children to be humble and empathetic. When children are guided to appreciate the abilities of others and care about their feelings, the urge to brag may be diminished. With good parenting, humility may be established.
Counter Bragging with Humility
According to Parents.com, to create humility parents should honestly praise a child for their achievements, but then provide exposure to others who are performing at a higher level. When a third grader is praised for being the fastest runner in his class, for example, he may immaturely believe that he is, in fact, the fastest runner out there.
To curb this untrue and arrogant perception, a parent might take this same child to a popular race where the runners are much faster than he/she is. A child can understand that his or her skills are good, but should realize that there is always room to grow and improve. By seeing that someone out there will almost always exceed their abilities, children can be taught humility.
Lead By Example
Many parents are guilty of bragging. They pepper conversations with what they consider to be bragging rights. Their child received an award, is making good grades, won a contest, etc. Many parents feel that their children are extensions of themselves, and so by touting the achievements of their offspring, they themselves are sure to garner more respect from their peers.
Often, people dread having conversations with these gloating parents. It feels like there is a constantly ongoing competition for who has the more accomplished child.
Parents can lead by example. They can acknowledge other children’s success at a certain activity in the same breath as showing pride in their own for the very same activity. When children witness a fair distribution of attention, they are sure to keep their own ego in check.
Peer Comparisons: A Trigger for Bragging?
Beginning in elementary school, children begin to weigh their skills and achievements against their peers. When kids notice their own and others’ abilities, there is opportunity for comparison. Kids often pronounce that one person is “good” at this or that, and it sticks. Many times in a classroom, a single child is labeled as the best at something. One kid is designated as being good at math or reading, and another is good at football, and so on.
As classroom labeling occurs and a child states that he is the best at an activity, this does not fit the definition of bragging or boasting. In his classroom, if he has learned that he is the best artist and all the kids concur; this is now an accepted fact among his peers.
Upon hearing this, parents may interject by saying it is likely that there are other children in the classroom who also enjoy drawing or painting. If he declares, “but I am the best”, a parent can take him down a notch to avoid more bragging. First, the parent should start by acknowledging his abilities. Afterwards, the parent should state that though this may be the perception of his peers, he is not the only person in his classroom or school with talents and abilities.
Bragging entails boasting, or toot one’s own horn. It is a sign that character building needs to take place. Parents have the opportunity to guide children in their bragging tendencies. They can redirect how their young ones talk about themselves. When a child is taught how others perceive his words, he is likely to think before he speaks.
Based on his words, do others regard him as arrogant, self centered, or egotistic? If your child is constantly bragging, it may be time for you to intervene. When a child knows how others become weary of conversing with him or her by trying to appear superior to them, then he or she might change the dialogue. There are many exercises a family can engage in that ultimately build a person’s character.
An effective method of character development is volunteering. Helping at a soup kitchen, assisting in building homes or sandbagging in times of hardship or natural disasters will introduce kids to a reality apart from their own. Engaging in such activities ensures that kids step outside of their own bubble; they are bound to develop compassionate behavior.
When children donate their toys or clothes to a charity, or spend their time helping someone less fortunate, they become aware of their position in society. They become aware that they can make small contributions to their communities and not just be popular “stars” at school. Giving is the foundation of character building, because it takes a good deal of selflessness. It also offers a view of the bigger picture – the view that everyone matters.
Except in the privacy of their own family, parents should live as though they have no bragging rights. Of course, it is okay to praise children when they do well, but praise should never overshadow another person’s efforts to reach the same goal. When deserved, acknowledgement should be fairly distributed.
For example, twin brothers compete in the same race. They are running neck and neck, when one falls and scrapes his knee while the other brother forges ahead and wins. Afterwards, a father might say:
“Tommy, I’m proud of you for getting so far in the race before you fell.”
Next, Dad might say, “Good job, Tony. You were the fastest and won the race today. We’ll never know what would have happened if Tommy hadn’t fallen, though.”
In this scenario, both boys are acknowledged with fair remarks but neither will have a big ego resulting from their father’s comments. Both boys are recognized as equal competitors.
Children respect fairness, and they understand whether treatment is fair not from a very young age. When parents demonstrate consistent fairness in their dealings with others as well as family, a child will pay attention to his parent’s actions and emulate them. Fairness teaches value and respect, so a parent should always aim to be fair in all competitive dealings.
Bragging is a common negative behavior among children. When children glorify their achievements or success they make their peers feel inferior – something which should be avoid. This can be nipped in the bud by parents as they teach humility and lead by example. Parents can be aware of peer perceptions and guide a child while building character. Praising a child honestly and fairly can deliver confidence while maintaining a humble attitude.