Have you ever had that friend who is just always trying to one up you? Or maybe it’s not a friend, but someone you remember from high school, or someone you worked with that was a serial bragger? Braggers are the worst and everyone has someone like that in their life that comes to mind, because people don’t forget that annoying quality.
What if your child is friends with a serial bragger? It cannot only be annoying, but be downright mean, and hurtful.
I’ve tried to teach my kids early on that bragging wasn’t an attractive attribute. It’s OK to be proud of yourself, but you don’t want to stand up and announce your super fun trip to Disneyland and brag about how your parents paid extra for you have dinner with a stormtrooper.
Kids need to learn, of course, to not let stuff like that get to them. I tell my kids all the time, try to be a pineapple (with a thick skin) when people are trying to get to them, and treat other people like they have skin like a peach (soft and easy to hurt). It’s a good analogy, but parents need to start teaching their kids that bragging about their cool toys, how much money the tooth fairy brought them, or their cool trip to Harry Potter World can hurt those around them. Especially if they are doing it a lot.
Let’s take for example the reaction of one of my son’s friends when they were talking about losing teeth. The kid exclaimed, “You only got a dollar!? The tooth fairy brings me five!” He said it right in front of me, too. To say I wanted to give that kid a bad case of diarrhoea right then and there was an understatement. How rude can you be?, I thought.
We’re often teaching our kids about being kind, and not bullying, but we’re forgetting this one important part of being a kid. It’s kind of fun to brag. All kids do it, and it’s part of childhood, but if your kid is doing it a lot? It might be worth talking to them.
See, they need to learn that not everyone has the same circumstances they do. I tell my kids all the time that there are kids out there that don’t have nearly as much as they do. It’s important to remind your kids that other families can’t afford boats or expensive family holidays, and to be excited about it, without bragging.
There is a big difference between saying, “We had so much fun on our holiday this summer going boating.” vs. “We have a 20 foot yacht, and we get to take it to Maui every year and eat bon bons that our butler serves us.” Kids need to learn that difference, too.
A little humility can go a long way. I think that’s what bragging boils down to, and it’s not easy to teach your kids humility unless you practice it yourself. Take a hard look at how you talk about your advantages and circumstances with friends. Are you oversharing on social media, or sounding a little bit too braggy talking on the phone to your sister about your favourite places to shop or your cool holidays? If so, then it might be worth reining that in a little, because kids are always listening. And chances are, they’re bragging because they hear you do it.
Bragging can be mean. There is no reason to brag when you stop to think about it, except to make yourself feel better than someone else. Teach your kids that there is a big difference between telling someone you’re excited about something once, and telling them about it 15 times. Or, saying you had fun at a birthday party, and going on and on about how it was the best birthday party in the history of forever and too bad you weren’t there.
Let’s teach our kids that bragging isn’t really fun, although it seems like it is at the time. Let’s teach them that not being a bragger goes hand in hand with being kind, and respectful of other people’s feelings. And, let’s teach our kids that although you might feel really, really cool for a minute or two after you brag, doing something kind for someone else is the right way to feel good about yourself.