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Kids Who Boast Too Much

When a friend tells your grade-schooler that his aunt has a tennis court in her yard, your child responds with, "Well, my uncle has a swimming pool -- and horses." If a classmate aces a test, your kid points out that he got perfect scores on the last three tests. What makes your child feel the need to constantly one-up his friends?

Grade-schoolers compare themselves to others to figure out who they are and where they stand socially, says Andrew Garner, M.D., assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. To prove he's special to the kids around him, a child may boast, especially after another child has.

If your kid brags only once in a while, let it slide, but if he can never be outdone, tell him in private:

"Good friends enjoy letting their friends shine once in a while." And remind him that having friends who do well on tests or have wealthy relatives doesn't make him any less wonderful.

"You don't have to have the best of, or be the best at, everything." Remind him of the neat skills and things he does have, like his superior joke-telling ability and extensive board-game collection, and explain that it would be boring if his friends had exactly the same talents and possessions.

"I have plenty of weaknesses, and that's okay!" You could say, "I wish I were a better singer! But I still love to sing!" With any luck, he'll soon trade his one-upping ways for giving praise.

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