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My 8 year old, the older brother to his 7 yr old brother, is a know it all. Anytime I try to have a "learning moment" with him, he is quick to tell me, "I know!" before I can even finish my sentence. He is very competitive. If he doesn't win, he quits, pouts, or calls the winner a cheater. And he always speaks in coversation like he is the biggest, baddest, and best of whatever the situation is at hand. I've looked at my behavior and my husbands to see where he's getting this from. For the life of me, I haven't a clue! I am a very competitive person but just for the fun of it. I am a very good sport and have no problems losing. My husband I both are eager to learn, take advise, and hear others out. We are also not the type that has to be the best at everything. We both have strengths and weaknesses. I know this is a lot to address in one question. But any advise you can give would be greatly appreciated. This behavior is gradually getting worse and I'm afraid it isn't just a "phase," but a true behavior issue that needs to be addressed.


Dr. Vicki Panaccione Replied: You have made important observations about your son which do need to be addressed. You may want to try to pinpoint the extent and source of his behavior. Is his behavior exhibited in all settings, such as school, at friends' homes, activities, etc? Or just with mom, dad and brother? Does he feel that he has to prove something to someone? Is this being fueled by pressure/bully at school? Trying to find the root of the behavior can be very helpful, although there may not be an identifiable cause. I am curious as to what you have tried to do to intervene. Take a look at what has worked (even for a short period of time) and what hasn't worked, and why. Oftentimes, we tried something and if it ‘doesn't work' right away, we give up. You may have to be very consistent and persistent in whatever interventions you choose to use to correct these behaviors. These behaviors come from severe insecurity, and feelings of incompetence. Additionally, he lacks coping strategies for dealing with discomfort or anything that points to his ‘incompetence.' He sees inability, lack of knowledge, etc. as a weakness, and the discomfort he feels creates this tough behavior. So, although he seems very tough, his behavior really reflects fear. In this case, you will have to deal with the situation on two levels: his feelings and his behaviors. While his behaviors are unacceptable and need to be addressed with time outs, etc, it is addressing his underlying feelings that need to be recognized, validated and replaced with competence. Use humor as much as possible to dissipate his big, bad talk. Give him outlets for expressing anger, such as a punching bag, basketball hoop or drawing paper. Learning coping strategies is a key issue for changing his behavior and attitude. Be sure to praise him when you see him handling a frustrating situation with self-control. I suggest that you and dad have a conversation with him, to reflect your observations and concerns. Take him out for lunch, or to the library, where he is less likely to act up. Tune into his feelings, not his behaviors. For instance, "I notice that it is very frustrating for you to lose…to feel as though you don't know something, etc." "I notice that you feel that you have to talk all big and bad…" "We want you to know that we think you are an amazing person, just the way you are." Let him know that you love him, and that it is OK not to know everything. Be sure that you and dad model that at home, where he sees that you make mistakes, don't know some things, lose and handle it with grace.
Posted On 2009-08-24 10:15:16
Jack Marcellus Replied: Sometimes kids can really respond well if we ask them to play a role. In this case perhaps giving him the role of a very supportive "coach" who understands it's difficult for a youngster to always be not first. He may surprise you.
I like to ask kids to tell me the traits they admire most in a teacher and then ask them how they would rate themselves in those categories THEY chose to be important.
Posted On 2009-08-06 20:05:03
Deborah Maragopoulos Replied: Your son seems to be suffering from feeling not good enough. You see, most people who are braggards are concealing their deep set sense of unworthiness. The most humble people tend to be more sure of themselves and have little need to prove anything. I would advise that you not be put off by your son's largesse. Embrace him. Tell him that you love him for who he is, not how big, bad, or best he believes himself to be. Praise him for any humble, giving, loving behavior. Ignore the bragging. Identify adults in your life who are humble...and complement them in front of your son, allowing him to see how truly assured people act. If you are not making any headway over the next two weeks (it takes two weeks to set a new habit...yours and his), then consult a child therapist that uses play therapy to discover the root of your son's self esteem issues. I am grateful for parents like you who seek to learn how to be the best parent they can be!
Posted On 2009-08-04 12:51:39
Stephen Jones Replied: The first child is accustomed to having all of the attention. When the next child comes along they still crave attention and their goal is to still have some control over each parents attention. Both you and your husband should sit down with him and set some guidelines regarding your conversations and the importance of listening. Tell him exactly what you expect him to do when you are talking. Parents set limits. It is better to correct this behavior know before he turns into a teenager and the consequences of not listening are bigger. I went through this phase with my son. Some time we would use time out because he was not accepting what we told him. Make sure that you praise him when you see the correct behavior. I would also talk to a counselor or teacher at his school so that you can decide on some consistent ways to respond to the behaviors. Stay committed to your son. Some things will change with maturity
Posted On 2009-08-02 16:28:14
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