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Attitude Makeover: Arrogant

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

Facing Your Own Bad Attitudes
Where is your kid learning this attitude? Could it be from you or your partner? Tune into your attitude and that of those close to your child, and look for clues. It may help you discover what's triggering your kid's arrogance.

First, look at your own attitude, and think about the kind of example you are sending. For instance, do you brag frequently about your accomplishments or talents in front of your kids? Do they hear you boasting about yourself to your partner, relatives, or spouse? What about your spouse or relatives? Do they display this attitude?

What do your kids perceive you value more: personal character or personal achievements? Is your attitude in line with those values? Do you emphasize your family's social, financial, or professional status to your kids? Do you (and they) have the view that your family is somehow "better" than other families? Do you stress personal accomplishments, grades, athletic prowess, and test results so much to your kids that they might perceive they need to prove themselves in order to gain your love? How competitive are you about your kids and family? For instance, how important is it for your kids to be "better" than your friends' kids? Do you openly compare your kids' performance, grades, or capabilities to those of their classmates, cousins, neighbors, or friends?

What are your beliefs about how children acquire self-esteem? For instance, do you feel it is more a matter of nature or your nurture? Is self-esteem contingent on a child's personal accomplishments or a parent's acceptance, or both? Do you feel that arrogance is a sign of high, medium, or low self-esteem? Do you feel criticism lowers your child's self-esteem? Do you criticize your child's poor behavior or attitude? If so, how? If not, why? Might your response have anything to do with your child's arrogant attitude?

Is there anything in your own attitude that might be enhancing your kid's arrogance? If so, what is it? What is the first step you need to take in yourself to be a better example of humility to your child?

I will

Bad Attitude News Alert
A famous study found that nine of ten adults felt that as they were growing up, they had to display a high skill, talent, or special ability in order to gain their parents' love. Might your child be in this category? If so, it could very well be a reason for his know-it-all ways. Researchers also found that the need to demonstrate competencies learned in childhood remains a pattern well into adulthood. This time, though, the adult uses his profession as a means of gaining approval and accolades from loved ones. Once again, instead of feeling a sense of quiet, inner confidence in his talents and strengths, he must toot his horn and demonstrate them to others for approval. If this is the case, he is at high risk for developing anxiety, low self-esteem, and the fear of disappointment. Make sure your child knows that your love is based on just who he is – and not on that gold star, goal, SAT score, or great grade.

Next: Steps 1 & 2 >>

From Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2004 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.

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