While confidence is a charming quality for your child to have, the line between that and arrogance is thin. If this moves to an unhealthy entitlement it can be damaging for your child. A confident child strongly believes in their ability and their potential for success. So does an arrogant child. It is the way that the child displays this in public that is the difference. What can start as cute may lead to an arrogant child who may struggle to fit in with their peers.
Importantly separate the behavior from the child. Your child’s arrogant behavior does not define them. They have many reasons to be confident. That arrogance developed over time because their confidence wasn’t tempered with a bit of humility. According to a study led by Eddie Brummelman, Assistant Professor at the Research Institute of Child Development and Education at the University of Amsterdam, an inflated sense of self is sometimes cultivated by parents over-evaluating their children’s abilities and achievements. Over time, the child internalizes their parents’ exaggerated views of them. Parental intervention can help bring the child back down to earth without shattering their confidence.
Confidence Versus Arrogance: How Do You Differentiate Them?
Though difficult on the surface, you can differentiate arrogance from confidence if you know what you’re looking for. While confidence and arrogance in children start from a strong sense of self, they soon show marked traits in the way they manifest. One general difference between them is that arrogance is loud and brash, while confidence is quiet and considerate. Find some of the traits that differentiate confident kids from arrogant children below.
- A confident child is self-assured to the point of not needing others to know about it. An arrogant child blows their own trumpet and enjoys drawing comparisons to show how better they are than others. In this article, we look at how to help your child have self-respect for themselves. Often a lack of this can mean they overcompensate.
- Arrogance in children prompts them to interrupt parents, teachers, and other authority figures with rude remarks while they’re speaking. While confidence keeps children grounded and always seeking to learn something. (Teaching your child how to talk to adults).
- An arrogant child always wants to be the center of attraction. A confident child doesn’t crave that attention, and if they find themself in the spotlight, they try to bring others with them.
- An arrogant child finds it challenging to work in a group, especially when they’re not playing a starring role. A confident child can work in a group to achieve a common goal without making it about themself.
- A confident child knows the things they’re not good at and tries to work on them. But an arrogant child conflates being good at one thing with being good at everything.
- Confidence in a child lets them deal with failure with a smile on their face because they understand that failure is part of the process. But arrogance in a child makes them take failure personally. They may even feel shame for it.
- A confident child competes with grace because they respect other children’s desire to win. But an arrogant child sees competitors as a threat to their status as the best.
- Confident children don’t live for external validation. They decide when they’ve succeeded and are happy with their achievements. Even when they win, arrogant children are never satisfied until they get loads of external validation.
- Confidence allows a child to reach out and help others who are struggling without looking to get anything out of it. In contrast, arrogance pushes a child to pursue success at all costs, even if it means putting other people down.
How Can I Stop My Child From Being Arrogant?
Turning your child from arrogant to confident involves making them feel secure in themself from within. Arrogant children don’t particularly feel confident even though they may act that way. Their arrogance is a way of masking that feeling of inadequacy. So they do all they can to acquire external validation. Below are ways to inspire genuine confidence.
- Examine your behavior. Children don’t just acquire an inflated sense of self in a vacuum. There must be something along the way that inspired it. Genuinely examining yourself and other influences at home would help you pinpoint the problem. It could be that at some point you kept singing to the child how special they were. Or were you too boastful at some point because your child was particularly talented at something? Identifying the source allows you to tackle the problem at its core.
- Point to others’ contributions when appropriate. Arrogance makes a child want to take all the credit all the time, which is why they usually struggle in a group. When your child is talking about their success, make a habit of pointing out how others contributed. For example, if your child is talking about that awesome goal they scored, remind them that they scored for the team and somebody assisted their goal. Highlighting the collective instead of the personal helps build a healthy level of confidence.
- Moderate praise. Praise is a positive reward and helps in boosting confidence, perseverance, and resilience. But praise must be moderated, intentional, and specific. Otherwise, it could become problematic. A study conducted by Professor Carol Dweck at Stanford University found that praise is ineffective when it’s given for the sake of it. During the study, children were given easy problems that still required some effort. Most of them got their answers correct. One half was told that they were smart, while the other half got praised for their effort. When they were given a more difficult problem, the half told they were smart stuck to redoing the simple problem. The half that got praised for their effort chose to give the more difficult problem a go. Ultimately, true confidence is gained from the process, not the hype.
- Avoid comparisons at all costs. Taking your child’s weakness and comparing it to another child’s strength is difficult. This is usually done to spur the child into action. However, the other kind of comparison is a bit subtle and just as damaging. In this case, parents gauge other children’s abilities and compare them with that of their child, putting their child in a favorable light. “Nobody on that team is better than you” is a classic example. Or, “Your brother wouldn’t have done that as well as you.” Often, this puts the child in the spotlight but doesn’t consider that everybody contributes, no matter how little, for the team to work at all. And that the siblings are two different people with completely different temperaments. If you’re making these kinds of comparisons, it may be contributing to your child’s inflated sense of self. You need to discontinue.
Final Thoughts on the Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance
Arrogance breeds disrespectful children, and this repels both adults and your child’s peers. It can also lead them to greater failure as they are not fully aware of the causes of their success or reasons for their failure. You can start fostering that sense of genuine confidence from your child’s first year of life. However, it’s essential to understand how to raise confident children without giving them a false sense of self. If it has already happened, you can help them work on it with understanding, empathy, and consistency.