Attitude Makeover: Arrogant
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The point is to judge others not on what they have done but based on who they are. That means you need to stress character, not performance. Start with your child, but because modeling is such an important way kids learn, do it also with your whole family. That way you will be more likely to really walk your talk. Here are some ways to emphasize to your kid that in the end, it's his character that matters most:
- Stop rewarding; just expect and accept. Stop bribing or rewarding your kid's efforts. The best self-esteem is internalized: your child must gain a sense of pride that he accomplished something for the joy of doing it and did it on his own. Also, find a level of expectation that is appropriate for each child's specific ability, temperament, and level of development. Some kids just do better than others at certain things during certain times.
- Halt the "parading." I know you're proud, but stop putting your kid on center stage to always perform. It's all right on the soccer field or in a musical concert, but lower the curtains in your home.
- Emphasize effort, not the product. Put your acknowledgments into the little steps and efforts your child makes, not the final result.
- Stress unconditional love. Continually emphasize to your child, "Who you are is what matters most. Not your grades, test scores, appearance, or friends. Win or lose you are who I love."
Arrogant kids often focus on their own strengths and overlook those of others, so a big part of tempering your kid's arrogance is to help him recognize the accomplishments and achievements of others. Here are a few strategies to help your child start looking for the greatness in others and acknowledge it:
- Greet others. The most basic form of acknowledgment is a simple "Hello," "Good morning," or "How are you?" Promote their use by your child. Though they seem like such minimal gestures, simple salutations are the first steps toward helping kids become more tuned into others and less tuned into themselves.
- Encourage encouragement. Tell your child that one of the secrets of people who are appreciated (as well as liked) by others is that they frequently encourage others. An arrogant kid may not be aware of supportive, encouraging statements that focus on building others up (instead of themselves), so brainstorm a few together: "Nice try!" "Super!" "Great job!" "Good game!" You might even post a list as a reminder. Then say the encouragers frequently so your child will "catch them" and then encourage her to start using them with peers.
- Enforce the 1 X 7 Rule. Encourage your child to praise a person's specific strengths, skills, or talent at least once a day, every day for a week. It could be a family member, friend, or stranger just as long as your child practices the art of praising someone other than herself. Be sure to help your kid recognize the kinds of traits that can be praised, so model a few examples: "Great kick!" "You're quite an artist." "You sure know a lot about history!" At the end of the day, ask your child who she praised and how the recipient responded. Hint: This is also a great activity to do as a family: because everyone is on board using the same 1 X 7 Rule, there are more examples for your child to learn from.
Reinforce your child's humility as soon as it happens, and let her know how pleased it makes you feel. Remember that true self-esteem is a quiet, inner contentment in which the child doesn't feel compelled to let others know of her accomplishments and accolades. Nor does she feel the urge to compare herself to others or put the other guy down. Here are some examples:
"Jessica, I know how proud you must feel about your grades. I'm proud of how hard you worked. I also appreciate that you just told Dad and me and didn't call all your friends this time."
"Jeremy, I heard how you commented on how much more Dr. Hallowell knows than you do about migrating butterflies. I remember when you claimed to be the world's foremost authority."
From Don't Give Me That Attitude by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright Â© 2004 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Buy the book at www.amazon.com.