Ending Arrogance

by Michele Borba

Antidote: Humility, Graciousness, Modesty

Before you attempt to stop your kid's arrogant, "superior" ways, you need to consider where, why, and how this attitude evolved.


These questions will help you better understand why your child is using an arrogant attitude and figure out what's going on.

Why is your kid arrogant? Think carefully about what may have caused him to have such a high opinion of himself -- or might he be compensating for something he lacks? Does he really have something to feel superior about? Is he gifted in the area he professes to be so knowledgeable about?

And what makes him feel he is so superior? Are you praising and acknowledging that expertise so much that he sees only his strengths and overlooks his weaknesses? Is an arrogant attitude something that is valued in your home? Or are you being too negative and critical, provoking this defensive reaction, this compensation for your withering attacks? Does he see others bragging unduly about their strengths, and so he is modeling their attitude? Or might it be that he is really trying to compensate for feelings of inadequacy? Another thing to consider: does he hear you bragging about his "brilliance" to others, and so he feels he needs to provide you with more things to brag about? Why did he develop such a know-it-all spirit?

Are there particular things he is more arrogant about? Is there a special subject or area of expertise that he tends to be more boastful toward-such as math, science, or vocabulary? If so, what is it? Is there a skill or talent he is more prone to show off: hockey, flute, weight lifting, or horseback riding?

Does he display the same arrogant attitude to everyone: friends, the neighbor kids, teammates, a coach, a teacher, relatives, siblings, you, or your partner? Are there some individuals he does not use his know-it-all ways on? For instance: all relatives or some, all friends or just some? All his teammates, or just some? Why are some spared dealing with this attitude?

Is there a particular time of day, week, month, or year when he is more arrogant? Is there a reason? For instance, if it is at a particular time, could something-such as a musical recital, spelling bee competition, athletic tournament, school debate, or report cards-be coinciding? Also, about when did you first see signs of this attitude? Was there anything happening at the same time that might have triggered his know-it- all ways: a move, an overly competitive school, a pushy relative, a certain teacher?

Are there certain places he is more likely to be arrogant: at school or day care, on an athletic field, with peers, at a musical concert, at home, at a store, at Grandma's? Why? Or is he arrogant every place and everywhere? Now take a look at your answers. Are you seeing any predictable patterns? Do you have any better understanding of your kid's arrogant attitude and where it's coming from?

What's wrong with your current response?

Your kid is right in front of you, and her arrogant, know-it-all ways are flying full colors. How do you typically respond? Do you reinforce her professions of greatness by agreeing with her? Do you encourage her by reminding her of other talents she has overlooked? Are you cheering her know-it-all ways because you feel it is a sign of high self-esteem?

If you don't approve of her arrogant attitude, what do you do (or do you do anything?)? For instance, do you let her know you don't approve by giving her one of your sternest looks? Yell? Lecture? Shrug? Remove a privilege? Raise your eyebrows? Do you ignore her attitude and hope it will go away by itself? Or do you let her know that she really doesn't have anything to be so proud of? Do you criticize? Humiliate? Compare her professed talent to that of someone else, such as a sibling, your partner, her peers, or even yourself?

What is the one response you have found does not work in stopping her arrogant ways? Write what you will never do from this moment forward:

I will not ________________________________________