Advice for Taming Big Kid Braggers

by Stacey Colino

Kids this age love to talk about the amazing things they can do. We’ll show you how to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand.

(Image Source: my 7-year-old son got his first scooter, he was uncoordinated and out of control. With practice, Nicky made some progress, but he couldn’t stop bragging about how he was “a champion scooterer” — which drove his older brother up the wall and provoked an epic argument. When I wasn’t worrying about his safety, I was puzzled: Why was Nicky so intent on proclaiming his greatness at something he obviously wasn’t very good at? Did he truly believe what he was saying, or did he think that if he said it enough it would be true? And finally, if his bragging was irritating his brother, wouldn’t it alienate his friends?

I’d been noticing that lots of kids his age tend to be immodest about their accomplishments. For example, I recently overheard one of Nicky’s friends bragging about how famous she’d become because her name was in the newspaper on her birthday. A boy in his class who loved doing cartwheels and handstands spent months talking up his Olympic gymnastic talents to anyone within earshot. Although this boasting may seem obnoxious, it turns out that it’s perfectly normal behavior. “After age 7, children develop a new cognitive ability to think of themselves as having enduring traits and abilities,” explains developmental psychologist Martin Ford, Ph.D., professor of education at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia. “They’re excited about these new ideas about themselves, so they want to talk about them and have others notice — which is what leads to that bragging.”

As a parent, you don’t want to quash your kid’s enthusiasm or blossoming self-awareness. But you don’t want to raise a full-fledged braggart either. The key is to help your child tone it down and learn the right way to express his pride in what he can do, without exaggerating the truth. We’ve got the scoop on why so many kids this age toot their own horn, plus some pretty good advice (if we do say so ourselves) on how to handle it.

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