How to Deal With Arrogant Children

By Chelsea Fitzgerald
Teach kids that kindness wins more friends than bragging.
Teach kids that kindness wins more friends than bragging.

Arrogance in toddlers or preschool age kids is quite unbecoming and exasperates not only the adults in their life, but also their siblings and peers. It is discouraging to realize that an arrogant child may actually be mimicking her role models, such as a parent, caregiver or someone else she admires. Taming this “know-it-all” attitude without diminishing the tyke’s natural exuberance is a fine balancing act. It helps to look deeper into the reasons why the child is arrogant.

Examine your own personality, that of your spouse and of other important people in the child’s life. Sometimes, arrogant behavior is a result of low self esteem or feelings of inadequacy, but it can also be a way to mimic someone she admires.

Stop bragging about everything you do and flaunting your accomplishments. For instance, if you participate in a church bake sale and brag at home later that your dessert was the best looking in the sale, curtail this behavior. Even though you said it in the privacy of your home and not around others, your little one is watching and listening. She may grow up to believe that patting yourself on the back is the only way to feel self-important.

Thank someone humbly when you receive a compliment or praise. Give credit to the person who taught you the skill, gave you the idea or provided an inspiration. This is a wise way to model humility for youngsters, since they are always aware of your actions.

Kneel next to your little girl when she spins around the room bragging about how she will have the most beautiful dress at the party. Explain that she truly does look gorgeous, but that other children’s families may not have enough money to buy such an expensive or pretty dress. Tell her that each child at the party will feel dressed up and special. Explain that even though she feels that her dress is the best that the other guests may feel the same way about their outfits or even be jealous of her dress. Whether they feel envious or not, it simply is not nice to brag about the one she is wearing.

Sit with your child and explain that when someone brags about something she owns or does, she is usually trying to make herself feel like she is better than someone else. Tell her that although she probably doesn’t mean to, it often makes the other person feel inferior or like what he owns or does is not as important. Explain that although the bragging may make her feel big, rich or important, it usually makes the other person feel badly. Tell her that you know she wants to be a good girl and that good people always try not to hurt others through their words or actions.

Role-play with your child. For instance, if your child has a pair of brand new cowgirl boots she loves so much she wants to wear them to bed, agree that she is certainly a lucky young lady to have them. Have her pretend that her friend looks at her boots and says, “Wow, those are cool, I wish I had some just like them!” Tell her that she should say something like, “Thanks, my grandpa got them for me, I have wanted them for a long time,” or something else that shows he is grateful for them. Explain that replies like, “They cost a whole bunch so I bet you can’t buy any,” or “Yeah, they look better than your dirty tennis shoes” are just plain rude.

Praise your child for exhibiting humbleness when she receives a compliment. Do this later on when you are alone. Tell her how proud you are that she thanked the person politely without bragging. Explain that bragging almost always makes the listener feel less important or not as worthy. Point out that this is not an effective way to treat people nicely.


Discuss your spouse’s or another loved one’s arrogant behavior with the individual. Explain that your youngster’s behavior made you realize that it is a trait of his and you hope he can learn to tamper this attitude for the sake of the child’s future character and happiness. If the behavior comes from someone you do not know well but who your child admires, talk to your child privately about how the person could have changed his answers to reflect humbleness and less of a self-centered attitude.

Avoid showing praise to your child only when she is performing or excels at something. This prevents her from thinking that the only way she can receive positive reactions from you is when she is “showing off.” Praise is important during special times, but even more vital after she exhibits kindness, compassion or empathy to someone. Everyone has the capability of being kind or caring to others, whereas not everyone can excel at sports. Praising her sensitivity to others is a wise way to help her self esteem soar, particularly if lack of it is what causes her arrogance.

About the Author

Chelsea Fitzgerald covers topics related to family, health, green living and travel. Before her writing career, she worked in the medical field for 21 years. Fitzgerald studied education at the University of Arkansas and University of Memphis.