What to Do If Your Child Is a Know-It-All

My daughter was thrilled with the new girl in the main men’s taekwondo class. After class, I whispered, “Do you want to talk to her?” My daughter nodded and came over, I thought to say hello. Instead, my daughter, who has been practicing taekwondo for exactly a month, gave the girl some advice and left with her head held high. The girl looked depressed.

As much as I admire my strong woman for her confidence —and want to encourage that confidence—I don’t want her to miss out on making friends. So I spoke with psychiatrist and parenting coach Jess Bichkofsky about how to teach your child to be less of a “know-it-all” while still encouraging them to speak up.

Why are young children “know-it-alls”?

“Know-it-all is a normal developmental stage that most children go through in the early years of elementary school, usually between the ages of 6 and 9,” Bitchkofsky says, with some children more prominent than others. She mentions that neurodivergent children may take longer to get past this stage than “typical” children.

This occurs as part of the Dunning-Kruger effect , in which a person’s lack of knowledge and skill in some area causes them to overestimate their abilities. Sounds like an 8 year old, right? “Children are happy to share their knowledge,” says Bichkofsky. “They learned and began to care about getting the ‘correct’ answers or knowing the ‘indisputable facts’. The school and parents reward such education, and it’s nice when you are praised. However, if it borders on annoyance, “it can be very difficult for a parent to just stand by and watch your child ostracize himself because he always has the ‘correct’ answers.”

So if your child is not getting through the phase without causing harm to society, there are several ways to help.

Help Children Gain Perspective

While it is very difficult to convince a child that their point of view is not the only one, Bichkofsky says: “One of the most important things a parent can do to help their child (and their sanity) during this difficult time is to try to help. your child to build some perspective.” While it’s normal for kids to be self-centered, it’s good practice to gradually integrate time where kids can see things from other people’s points of view. In fact, my child’s third grade teacher made “perspective” the “theme” of the entire school year.

In his own home, Bichkofsky suggests, “Sometime after a know-it-all happens, ask your child what’s going on. Let them describe the situation. Then give some thoughts about someone else who might have had a different opinion, or who couldn’t comment because your know-it-all got the upper hand.” In a conversation with my daughter about taekwondo, I might say, “How do you think she felt about getting tips from someone who wasn’t a teacher?” or “How would you feel if you were told that you did something wrong on your first day?”

Bichkofsky says that instead of shaming your child, make sure that the wording of these questions is “out of curiosity and love, not to show the child how bad and selfish he was, because shame and guilt will not help in this situation.” “. better go.”

The model does not know all the answers to her questions

While we sometimes feel the need to be all-knowing parents, it’s okay that you don’t always know everything. Modeling not knowing all the answers is a good way to teach your child that he, too, may not know everything.

In fact, “often an insightful question can get even more positive attention than a correct answer,” Bitchkofsky says. I began to enjoy some of the strange and wonderful existential questions of my children, and I told them about it. Some favorites that I’ve been praising because I don’t know the answer for the last year include “Why does the counting go on forever?” “If you ate yourself, would you double in size or disappear?” and “Why can people see as far as they can?”

Don’t act like a know-it-all

When they’re trying to learn more than you, it’s important to use that as a learning moment. When my daughter yells at me for listening to Hamilton and swearing that one character is called Fafalette, I can do one of two things. I can show her what it’s like to be around a know-it-all and tell her no, it’s Lafayette, and while I’m at it, I can turn off the music and talk to her about the history of the United States for the rest of the car ride. Bichkofsky says this probably won’t be an effective method of curbing the behavior. “If you are always right and give everyone the answers, then your child is expected to want to do the same,” she says.

Correcting them when they are wrong or praising them when they are right does not help their social skills. Instead, “sometimes providing information about the context associated with a situation can be helpful in gaining perspective,” she says.

As for my daughter, I can say that I didn’t like being yelled at or that her tone hurt my feelings. If you say your car can go a million miles an hour and your child says, “Cars can’t go that fast,” Bitchkofsky says, you can say something like, “When I said how fast my car, that was kind. joke. It didn’t really matter how fast the car was going because I was being stupid and trying to make it funny. Sometimes things can be very funny because I’m wrong.”

After all, “telling them about other people, their feelings or goals will help, but it also takes time,” says Bichkofsky. Most kids will “read the room” as they get older, but some may need a little help to understand that being right isn’t always the most important thing.


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