“I am the best reader in the whole class!”

“I am so much smarter than all of my friends.”

Sound familiar? There are several reasons that children brag. They are still learning how to navigate socially in this world, and it is our job as parents to help guide them with love and compassion.

Reasons your child may be bragging

  • If your child is bragging, it may indicate low self-esteem, lacks self-confidence, or be immature. Therefore, bragging for your child helps them to feel better by making them more significant and more inflated than they are. Also, by enhancing their experiences and accomplishments, they pivot themselves onto a higher plane than their peers. For example, if your child has something more than their friend or something better than their friend and feels insecure, expanded achievements can make others appear less and elevate their status.
  • Your child may be bragging to establish his position in the family and the outer world. For example, a middle child who feels lost in his parent’s attention may brag about finding a space to feel special. All children want to be accepted and loved, and sometimes bragging is their effort to feel accepted and loved.
  • Your child may be bragging to feel important and gain attention. Because children don’t have the social or coping skills that adults often do, bragging can become a technique they use to find and create friendships. Meanwhile, they are unaware that bragging can make others move away from them and even dislike them. Therefore, since bragging is anti-social behavior, it can heighten your child’s sensitivity towards insecurity and loneliness.
  • Your bragging child may be modeling or imitating mom, dad, brother, or sister. We are social animals, and we learn through social modeling. Children often imitate what they see and what seems to work for others.

So what can you do if your child brags?

To curb bragging, it is essential for parents to help develop a child’s feelings of self-confidence and good self-esteem.

  1. You can follow my Empathic Process. Discuss with your child, in a non-defensive and non-threatening way, how others feel about bragging and why it’s not working for him.
  2. Teach your child better social skills and cues. Practice and rehearse those social skills at home until they become second nature to your child. Through role modeling and creating new and healthier habits for social interactions, you will teach your child how to make friendships with confidence and competence.
  3. Help your child understand that others dislike bragging and avoid people that brag. You might ask how he feels when his friends brag and what he thinks of friends that brag.
  4. Teach your child that they are valued and loved unconditionally. Doing so will open the door for successful friendship experiences that will grow with your child.
  5. Remember to know your child and listen to your child. Then, you can offer praise when it is earned and love unconditionally.
  6. Finally, be what you want to see. Your children will mimic your behavior. Don’t brag about yourself, or you will be sowing the seeds for this behavior within your family.

By making sure your child knows how important and loved he is, he will not need to make himself larger in the eyes of others. Remember: children are vulnerable; they need to be noticed and seen to feel that you are proud of them and that you appreciate and love them for who they are so that they don’t have to brag about feeling good about themselves or about feeling as if they belong. This will help your child find his place in your family and social circle.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at EmpowHER.com since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Amazon.com. Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.