To get to self-direction, there are a few universal caveats for every one of the situations that follow. First, our children need to understand and agree with both the need for the furl and the consequence for breaking it. Only when they come to agree with our rules, through their own internal dialogue, will they become self-directed. Second, look to your own parenting strategy as the possible source of some of the problem. Are you over-controlling or over-protective? Either trait can elicit an externally directed response, as your children react to an unhealthy situation. Third, remember for all these parenting challenges how important it is for you as parents, to model the right behavior. If you're expecting your children to act one way and you act another, the double standard will throw a monkey wrench into their whole internal dialogue machinery.
And lastly, don't forget to laugh.
Why they do it
Children brag to try to convince other people that they're better than they really think they are. Somehow, their self-esteem has taken a beating in the past, and they're struggling to repair it.
When your children brag, they'll get whatever consequences they deserve from those who have to put up with it. Tell them how most people might react, though, so that they'll have something to think about when their friends roll up their eyes and walk away.
Solutions toward self-direction
Teach your children to find ways to appreciate who they are and discover their own inner sense of worth. Eventually, these thoughts may become incorporated into their internal dialogue.
Ask your children questions to stimulate their internal dialogue: "How do you feel when someone else brags? Don't you find it annoying?"
Use impartial descriptions and information: "Johnny seemed to wrinkle up his nose when you were talking about all the karate awards you won. It may have made him angry." "In our family, we try to make our friends feel good about themselves, instead of trying to prove that we're better."
Role-play bragging scenarios with your children, first with you, then with them, playing the braggart. Again, this will help them develop internal dialogue about bragging.
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