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Behaviors At Home

The Show-Off

Action: Why is my child behaving this way, what unmet needs does he or she have, and what specific things can I do to help him or her behave better?

Primary Causes of Misbehavior

Attention
This person seeks attention at any cost.

Power
This person also feels a great deal of power in obtaining attention, but doesn't understand that his or her behavior turns others away.

Primary Needs Being Revealed

Gender/Identity
This child is making every effort to let people know he or she exists and needs some kind of relationship with peers and adults.

Secondary Needs Being Revealed

Gregariousness
This child needs to belong. His or her continuous showing off demonstrates the urgency of the situation.

Aggression
This child needs involvement with others in a positive way. The child needs to learn acceptable ways to assert himself or herself.

Achievement
The increased opportunity to achieve will reduce the need to show off.

Power
The child needs to be given responsible tasks, and the parent must structure the conditions for completing those tasks.

Actions to Take
  • Be aware that, too often, this child needs more than attention. The child feels he or she must do something significant to win approval.

  • Likewise, the show-off fears he or she will be lost in the shuffle. Therefore, even though he or she is capable and acts superior, this child feels inferior. Showing off allows the child to brag without being contradicted or tested. Above all, when this child doesn't show off, he or she never gets any attention. This makes the child feel worse. Know that this child may not want to show off, but feels it is necessary.

  • Spend private time with this child. Talk about his or her behavior in a caring way and discuss why this is happening.

  • Capitalize on his or her strengths. Say, "I don't want people thinking badly of you."

  • Make sure this child knows you love him or her. Remember, this child will do anything to get your respect.

  • Give the show-off attention before he or she seeks it.

  • Confront the child privately, with a calm and serious attitude. Never confront him or her in the presence of others. Give the show-off a look of knowing disapproval, but not rejection.

  • Go to your child when he or she is showing off. Say, "Please . . ." You'll be surprised how often he or she will stop. Then, say something good about the child.

  • Some kids feel they have to be discipline problems. It's the only way they feel important. Often, school makes them feel insignificant. Class work shows their inferiority. Therefore, they find importance by being a nuisance or causing problems. Two of the most common behaviors which are a result of this reality are showing off and being a smart aleck. Find ways to make children demonstrating these two behaviors feel significant, and you'll find the behaviors will gradually diminish.

  • The best way to make this child feel important is to give him or her something important to do. Make up a list of all the things that need to be done around the house daily, semi-weekly, and weekly. Then, ask your child if he or she would be willing to assume some of these responsibilities. Remember to recognize his or her efforts, and you'll find your child may not have such a strong need to show off or be a smart aleck.

  • Use encouragement for all good behavior, privately and publicly.

  • Talk with teachers and other parents to generate ideas and support in dealing with your child.

  • Make sure this child is aware that he or she may have to face consequences if this behavior continues.

  • Have the child work out a plan to adjust his or her behavior.

List of Behaviors

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Please Note
We are labeling behaviors, not children! For the sake of convenience, we will describe behaviors with terms such as The Whiner or The Interrupter.

Never use such labels when talking to—or about—children! Doing so could cause many new problems and seriously damage the teacher-student or parent-child relationship.