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When Your Child Is a Braggart

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: I have a smart, 8-year-old boy who is in third grade. Other kids tease him at school because he's small -- he's 4 feet tall, and weighs 45 pounds. One of the mothers told me that he is being teased by his friends because he brags about his knowledge on academic subjects. When the other kids talk about their ability to play football or other games, or their strength or physical ability, is it wrong for my son to say that he is good at his studies? I think he needs to do so to keep his self-esteem. How should I teach him to stop bragging?

A: It's easy to understand why your son brags about his academic skills. As you say, he needs to feel good about himself. Some people need to build themselves up to the point that they are bragging because they feel deficient in some other area.

Is it possible to find some physical area in which your son can develop skills? He might be a great candidate for lessons in karate or one of the other martial arts. Karate or tae kwon do instruction not only teaches physical skills, but also self-control.

Talk with your son's teacher and with the school counselor. Some lessons for his whole class on teasing and meanness may be very appropriate. You may also want to gently remind your son how he feels when other children tease him.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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