My kid is kind of a jerk.
There. I said it. As a mom, that’s not easy an easy thing to say aloud or even admit to yourself. But in reality, it’s true.
I love my kid. He’s smart, incredibly well-coordinated, and has a mind that never ceases to amaze me. But from a young age, he’s always been a bit of a jerk.
He’s loud, interrupts, constantly pushes his way into every situation, and is always convinced that he is being wronged in some way. He’s quick to anger and places blame on everyone but himself when things go wrong.
There’s no particular reason he’s this way. He has no diagnosis, not that we haven’t checked. We explored avenues to find out if he has issues with social situations or just relating to others.
Whenever his personality was put together, he got more than his fair share of arrogance and attitude. With the talent to back it up, it almost makes sense, but his attitude is one that could turn into something ugly as he gets older.
I know this isn’t uncommon for kids and that many kids outgrow it as they get older, but I also know many who don’t. How do I know? Because I remember dealing with peers in high school, college, and even now, who exhibit these personality traits.
And I don’t want him to grow up to be one of those people who people say, “Yeah, he’s kind of a jerk.”
Of course, I don’t! I’m his mom! I want him to be a strong, independent, and KIND individual.
I do not want my kid to grow up to be a butthead and a bully.
I cannot change his personality. In reality, I don’t want to. But as his mom, I can help shape his actions, responses, and thought processes. I can work with him to use his gifts for good and do my very best to teach him to be empathetic and thoughtful.
And so I am hard on him — harder than I am on my other kids.
I keep it very real with him. He tends towards arrogance, and it’s debatable whether it’s just that or a sign of serious insecurity (or both.) Either way, I feel like it’s important to be factual and not sugarcoat. I celebrate his accomplishments and routinely tell him how proud I am of him, but he’s not allowed to overstate his importance in a situation.
I call him out for small things I might normally let go. He’s one of those kids who will take a mile if you give an inch, so we avoid giving him that window as much as possible. He does better with crystal-clear boundaries.
Another thing I do is point out both his wins and his misses. It’s easy for him to gloss over anything he could improve and act like everything is a win. However, a little humility goes a long way, and when we help him recognize areas for improvement, he learns that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you can learn from them.
I strategically place him in situations where he won’t be the best. He needs to learn that even if it doesn’t come easily to him, or he’s not the top in something, that doesn’t mean he should avoid it. I want him to have grit and perseverance, not just to be his best, but to also help others be their best.
And I also spend a lot of time scratching my head and worrying if I’m doing this right. Truly he’s an amazing kid and has the potential to do incredible things and make a difference in the world.
I just hope he won’t be a butthead.