How to stop bragging

Parents may do it most, but they’re far from the only ones.

Posted March 5, 2013

How to stop bragging

When my friends boast about their children over and over, I hear, ‘My kids are doing great, but perhaps yours isn’t,’” Rachel Pappas told me. Pappas is the mother of a bipolar daughter and the author of Hopping Roller Coasters, about her experiences raising her daughter. Listening to the accomplishments of others who did not take her daughter’s sensitive situation into account was beyond rude, she says; it was hurtful: “I was sad and reminded by the constant accolades of other moms that my daughter who I wanted to be happy and to fit in, didn’t seem to be either—not happy; not fitting in.”

It is not easy to be on the listening end of all the bragging that goes on around us, especially from parents. We live in a culture in which most parents strive to raise “star” children; we want them to shine. I’m as guilty as any other parent. However, along with the desire comes incessant reporting: Each time your child does something terrific, you want to praise him publicly. Gushing about your child’s accomplishments seems interchangeable with being a proud parent.

Bragging is on par with eating food and having sex.

A 2012 Harvard study comprised of five brain imaging experiments found that the urge to share information about one’s life is more powerful than previously thought. Researchers found that sharing information about themselves triggered the same sensations in the brain synonymous with eating food and having sex in their subjects.

Participants had been offered a financial incentive to respond to questions about other people, but many passed on the money, preferring to answer questions about themselves.

By extension our children are us—even though we know they aren’t or shouldn’t be. Considering how easy it is for our adult egos to get wrapped up in our children’s achievements, it makes sense that fulfilling our urge to brag about them is just as satisfying as bragging about ourselves. The urge to up the wattage of a child’s spotlight sometimes overpowers that voice in the back of our head that tells us, “Stop bragging. You sound annoying.”

It is one thing to brag to a child’s grandparents or other relatives and people you are sure love your child. It is quite another, as Pappas and others know, if your words are hurtful—even if that is unintentional. Consider the people who hear you: Is telling your story signaling superiority in some way? Is it undermining another parent or child? In a New Yorker magazine article about Academy Award Best Supporting Actress winner Anne Hathaway, Sasha Weiss wrote, “having to temper naked pleasure so as to be thought socially appropriate…is a problem we all face.”

You may believe you are just being proud, but to others you may come across as over-the-top, boastful, competitive, or thoughtless. Looking at areas of brain that were activated in their study, the Harvard neuroscientists discovered why 40 percent of what we say relates to telling other people about the things we think or feel: “Self-disclosure is extra rewarding.” Not unlike eating food and having sex.


Hotz, Robert Lee. “The Science of Bragging and Boasting.” The Wall Street Journal. 7 May 2012.

Pappas, Rachel. Phone conversation and e-mail correspondence, February, 2013. Website:

Tamir, Diana I., Mitchell, Jason P. “ Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding .” Cambridge: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012.

How to stop bragging

Some people think they are just proud when in reality they come across as boastful and over the top when they brag about their accomplishments, money, or material possessions.

Most braggers are insecure and feel the need to inflate their ego to appear bigger in front of their peers. People who are confident about whom they really are don’t feel the need to show off and seek attention and approval from others.

I saw a humble brag post on Facebook recently. A mom posted her son’s straight-A report card as a post. It was in such bad taste. A report card is a personal matter, and sharing it publicly with others is uncouth. Next, the bragging mom will be sharing her work reviews or yearly bonus on Facebook.

If their bragging exceeds the limit beyond which you can put up with, here are a few snappy comebacks to stop the bragger in their tracks.

How to stop bragging


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How to stop bragging

Have you ever had that friend who is just always trying to one up you? Or maybe it’s not a friend, but someone you remember from high school, or someone you worked with that was a serial bragger? Braggers are the worst and everyone has someone like that in their life that comes to mind, because people don’t forget that annoying quality.

What if your child is friends with a serial bragger? It cannot only be annoying, but be downright mean, and hurtful.

I’ve tried to teach my kids early on that bragging wasn’t an attractive attribute. It’s OK to be proud of yourself, but you don’t want to stand up and announce your super fun trip to Disneyland and brag about how your parents paid extra for you have dinner with a stormtrooper.

Kids need to learn, of course, to not let stuff like that get to them. I tell my kids all the time, try to be a pineapple (with a thick skin) when people are trying to get to them, and treat other people like they have skin like a peach (soft and easy to hurt). It’s a good analogy, but parents need to start teaching their kids that bragging about their cool toys, how much money the tooth fairy brought them, or their cool trip to Harry Potter world can hurt those around them. Especially if they are doing it a lot.

Let’s take for example the child in my neighborhood that found out one of my kids lost a tooth. He exclaimed, “You only got a dollar!? The tooth fairy brings me five!” He said it right in front of me, too. To say I wanted to give that kid a bad case of diarrhea right then and there was an understatement. How rude can you be?, I thought.

We’re often teaching our kids about being kind, and not bullying, but we’re forgetting this one important part of being a kid. It’s kind of fun to brag. All kids do it, and it’s part of childhood, but if your kid is doing it a lot? It might be worth talking to them.

See, they need to learn that not everyone has the same circumstances they do. I tell my kids all the time that there are kids out there that don’t have nearly as much as they do. It’s important to remind your kids that other families can’t afford boats or expensive family vacations, and to be excited about it, without bragging.

There is a big difference between saying, “We had so much fun on our vacation this summer going boating.” vs. “We have a 20 foot yacht, and we get to take it to Maui every year and eat bon bons that our butler serves us.” Kids need to learn that difference, too.

A little humility can go a long way. I think that’s what bragging boils down to, and it’s not easy to teach your kids humility unless you practice it yourself. Take a hard look at how you talk about your advantages and circumstances with friends. Are you oversharing on social media, or sounding a little bit too braggy talking on the phone to your sister about your favorite places to shop or your cool vacations? If so, then it might be worth reigning that in a little, because kids are always listening. And chances are, they’re bragging because they hear you do it.

Bragging can be mean. There is no reason to brag when you stop to think about it, except to make yourself feel better. Teach your kids that there is a big difference between telling someone you’re excited about something once, and telling them about it 15 times. Or, saying you had fun at a birthday party, and going on and on about how it was the best birthday party in the history of forever and too bad you weren’t there.

Let’s teach our kids that bragging isn’t really fun, although it seems like it is at the time. Let’s teach them that not being a bragger goes hand in hand with being kind, and respectful of other people’s feelings. And, let’s teach our kids that although you might feel really, really cool for a minute or two after you brag, doing something kind for someone else is the right way to feel good about yourself.

These humble brags are not subtle in any way and do more harm than good.

Humble Brag Alternatives:

  1. Be Authentic. If you think I want you to hide all of your accomplishments, think again!
  2. Create a Story Around the Accomplishment.
  3. Practice Gratitude.

Find out all about it here. In this regard, how do you stop yourself from bragging?

The “humble brag” – How to Talk About Yourself Without Sounding Arrogant

  1. Be genuine.
  2. Share your excitement.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Be brief.
  5. Be strategic about the information you share.
  6. Help people understand you as a person.
  7. Talk about the impact.
  8. Don’t sound too humble.

Likewise, what does it mean when someone brags a lot? Blowhard : someone who always brags or boasts about himself. He is also a braggart, bragger, line-shooter, vaunter, etc. Blowhard is an informal word describing someone who can’t stop talking about themselves or their accomplishments, real or imagined.

Similarly one may ask, what is a Humblebrag person?

Humblebragging — defined as “bragging masked by a complaint or humility” — actually makes people like you less than straight-up self-promotion, the research says. The findings were published recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

What is the difference between bragging and sharing?

If your friend seems jealous, put it away and do not discuss it anymore. If you are accused of bragging but you did not mean to, say “I didn’t mean to brag, I just wanted to share.” If you feel like someone is bragging to you, you can say “That feels a little bit like bragging to me.”

Top Ten Comebacks for a Bragger

How to stop bragging

Some people think they are just proud when in reality they come across as boastful and over the top when they brag about their accomplishments, money, or material possessions.

Most braggers are insecure and feel the need to inflate their ego to appear bigger in front of their peers. People who are confident about whom they really are don’t feel the need to show off and seek attention and approval from others.

I saw a humble brag post on Facebook recently. A mom posted her son’s straight-A report card as a post. It was in such bad taste. A report card is a personal matter, and sharing it publicly with others is uncouth. Next, the bragging mom will be sharing her work reviews or yearly bonus on Facebook.

If their bragging exceeds the limit beyond which you can put up with, here are a few snappy comebacks to stop the bragger in their tracks.

How to stop bragging


Ever feel like you don’t know what to say to challenging people? Grab our FREE starter guide, so you know not only what to say- but how to say it. Discover the secret of shutting down rude people.

Children should be proud of their achievements, however it’s bad if they’re showing off to everyone they meet. Find out here how to stop your child bragging.

How to stop bragging

Pride in your children comes with the parenthood territory. However, it’s something else when your child tells everyone how great they are. What do you do when your child starts boasting about themselves to everyone they meet? Their well-intentioned behaviour can get old quickly, so learn how stop your child bragging before it becomes a problem.

Why Is My Child Bragging?

Bragging could be a sign of a deeper psychological need for approval. This behaviour is almost always rooted in insecurity. A child bragging could be a sign that they feel deficient and show off to cover that up. Listen to your child and try to notice trends in what your child is bragging about so you can help them feel more secure in those areas.

As a parent, you need to pay attention to your own words, too. It’s one thing to be proud of your child for big achievements, but limit sharing your pride to family and close friends. If your child sees you excessively boasting about them, they’ll learn to model that behaviour. Listen to that voice in the back of your head that says, ‘Stop bragging’. Lead by example, and hopefully prevent minor boasting from becoming a full-blown problem.

Why Is It Important to Stop Boasting?

Most young children are unaware that boasting hurts other children’s feelings. Your boastful child might have difficulty making friends when they offend others, even if they don’t mean to hurt their feelings. This is usually the opposite of what the person who is boasting really wants. If your child announces to another that they are the best reader in the class, for example, your child has just put himself above the other child. Set them up for more social success by explaining how their behaviour can hurt others.

What Can You Do?

You should practice good social skills at home for your children to model. For example, if your child’s conversation skills consist of ‘me, me, me’, show your child how to ask about others instead. You should also demonstrate to your child in a non-defensive and non-threatening way how bragging makes other children feel. You could say, “Bragging makes you seem superior, and that might insult or hurt your friends’ feelings”.

Every child should be complimented on the things they do well, but if you want to stop your child bragging, make sure you don’t go over the top with praise: avoid using words such as ‘incredibly’, ‘perfect’ or ‘the best’. For example, when they come home with a good maths grade, instead of saying “Wow, you’re the best at mental maths”, say “I’m proud of how well you’re doing in mental maths”.

Even if your child is on board and wants to stop the bad behaviour themselves, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and let a boastful comment slip out. As a gentle reminder for older children, use a hand signal every time your child starts to show off. Tug your ear or hold up three fingers when you hear your child start to boast, and they can redirect the conversation themselves.

If you suspect your child’s insecurities are at the root of their boasts, enrol them in activities that emphasise teamwork. Look for areas in which your child can excel, but is not an expert in. This also helps children better tolerate the things they are not as successful at yet. Activities like this can build self-esteem, which helps children abandon this bad habit on their own.

What Do You Tell Other Carers?

All your carefully crafted work to eliminate the boasting can go out the window if their nanny or babysitter isn’t on the same page. Show your child’s carers the signal you use when you catch your child bragging to other children, and ask them to use it, too.

By working together with all of your child’s teachers and carers, you can stop your child bragging before their boasting behaviour gets out of hand. Parents can take active steps to validate their children authentically, which usually decreases boasting behaviour or eliminates it altogether.

Ask for help to get stuff done

How to stop bragging

Oct 24, 2017 · 4 min read

How to stop bragging

Always on. Available 24/7. Get answers immediately.

Businesses make promises like these not because it helps them stand out from the competition, but because this immediate, constant access is now the norm.

It’s great if you’re the customer, because things often break or fail after hours. It sucks if you’re working for that business.

Nowadays, being always available is required. W orking around the clock is “strongly encouraged.” Responding to e-mails at night and coming into the office on weekends, taking time away from your family and friends isn’t going above and beyond, it’s expected, and it’s everywhere, not just here in Silicon Valley.

Everywhere you turn, you hear people talking — bragging, really — about how little sleep they got, about how tired they are, about how busy they are. Running through the list of things one has to accomplish in a day has become a game of one-upmanship.

Oh, you have to take the kids to school, go to work, appear in five meetings while writing the annual report that was due yesterday, then take the kids to soccer and dance and gymnastics and piano, then feed everybody and then have them do homework and go straight to bed? And you have a whole day to do that? Oh yeah, well I have to do all that plus learn Chinese in 6 hours. So there.

It’s getting a little ridiculous, people.

Being busy is not something to brag about.

Being overly busy is something that indicates that maybe we haven’t figured out our priorities or we aren’t working toward them.

This is a trap I fall into All. The. Time. The problem is, there really is a lot to do, and expectations from the boss are tough to say no to, even if it’s after hours.

But really, bragging about my to-do list and how little time I have to accomplish it is actually a source of stress for me. It brings into focus all the stuff that needs to get done that probably won’t, and that I’ll probably just move to another to-do list the next day and the next and the next.

All this takes away from the time we have to do the things we love, and that’s not even considering the toll this is taking on our health, our relationships and our sanity.

Always being busy means there’s no time to rest

At the most basic level, our bodies need time to repair themselves, and they do that during sleep. But how many of us are getting enough sleep? Our bodies and our brains don’t have time to process all they’ve been through each day, or to make any necessary repairs, which means we’re running ourselves into the ground.

We do regular maintenance on our cars (or at least we should), why don’t we do the same for our bodies?

And what about our minds, which also need rest to stay sharp, focused and productive? Constantly going means no time for meditation or prayer or however you like to give your mind the opportunity to reflect on what has happened and prepare to handle whatever comes next.

Our relationships suffer when we don’t make time to spend with our family and friends, really enjoying the moment and concentrating on the people around us. Always being busy means we place more priority on the work or small, unimportant, urgent tasks that are loudest without thinking about what’s most important, and perhaps a little quieter.

So how should we deal with this culture of busy-ness?

We need to recognize we have a problem.

Is all this busy work stuff we really need to be doing? Do you really want to spend your time on the dishes? The laundry? Being a mom-taxi?

Probably not. Of course it needs to be done, but by and large, the world won’t end if you don’t get to the laundry today.

Once in a while, it’s OK to skip the kids’ activities and just have a relaxing evening at home. Those are the most fun times anyway, when spontaneous play erupts and brings with it laughter and lasting memories.

Ask for help

Your family members are perfectly capable of doing the dishes or sweeping or cleaning the bathroom. Seriously. Their arms aren’t painted on.

Ask them to help. If they do a little of the work you’ve been taking all on yourself, they’ll hopefully gain an appreciation of all you do for them, and you’ll gain a few more minutes or hours to do what you love.

As we head into holiday season, this is especially important to remember. It’s easy to get so caught up in doing everything we feel we must do, but those 10 dozen cookies you’re baking for the neighbors aren’t what will make this a magical time. What will is spending time with loved ones, doing what you love and letting them do what they love.

It’s hard to do when everyone is talking about how much they’ve done today, and while bragging is never a good thing, maybe we can shift the subject a little. Maybe we can talk about what we did that’s really important: who was productive in snuggling with the kids, in creating something new, in reading a novel?

That’s the kind of bragging I can get behind.

How do you avoid the trap of busy-ness?

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How to stop bragging

Storytelling is fun. We enjoy sharing our own successes in life. Parents do this most of the time. They are proud of the success of their sons or daughters.

But hearing someone boasting about personal or other’s achievements over and over again can be annoying. It is difficult to listen to a story whose sole purpose is to boast something.

Sometimes we wonder why some people keep doing it. Why do people keep bragging? Well, they do it for the following reasons:

1. Insecurities

People who always brag about their personal achievements are actually lacking a sense of self-confidence and pride. In reality, bragging is their medium to make a point and make other people aware of what they have.

They want their neighbors and friends to notice everything that makes them proud. Bragging also their instrument to make other people know that they are better than others.

Bragging is not only happening in the traditional face to face interaction but more so on social media. Notice how many people do post their daily activities online? Most of those photos are irrelevant.

Why would millions of people do that? Again, that’s simply the function of insecurity and illusionary feeling of being not enough.

But the people who habitually do this behavior are mostly unaware of why they do it. Their main purpose is not to hurt or demean someone though. They just try to cover their vulnerabilities with self-proclaimed successes.

2. Need to be recognized and valued by others

In reality, we don’t need to tell the world about what we have achieved. Eventually, people know who you are. Our actions can be a good storyteller.

However, in an intimidating situation, when our ego is threatened, we start to cover up ourselves with great stories. We tend to tell others who we are in terms of our achievements. We want to be recognized and admired.

Bragging is also a vehicle to show someone that we have just moved on from any emotional turmoil that he/she caused us. A person who has previously experienced a relationship breakup may brag a smiling photo of him/her on social media.

Rejection will devastatingly affect our self-esteem. We take care of our personal image especially when we are in a group. We want to be liked by others. And to do that, we tend to impress them with our personal stories.

But why we almost always apply this behavior to social interaction? Sure, there is a scientific explanation. Here is the psychology of bragging.

The scientists realized that bragging is a common behavior. In fact, it is synonymous to our craving with food and sex. This was discovered by a Harvard study in 2012.

As human beings with vulnerabilities, we might be caught up in a situation where we are unconsciously telling our personal stories. We might not be aware of the very purpose of doing so. But, certainly, we are trying to protect our self-esteem.

People with many insecurities may usually engage in this type of behavior. Secure people do not bother to do the same. In fact, they avoid the following:

1. Brag their achievements

Secure people know that they are heading in the right direction of their lives. Their self-esteem is high and stable. They don’t need others to praise them and acknowledge their success to feel good. Thus, there’s no need to talk about their personal achievements.

2. Find assurance and belongingness

Secure people don’t need reassurance from others. They know their personal appearance and looks. They are already comfortable with themselves and their current social circle. Maybe others admire their successes and talents, but certainly, they don’t purposely pursue it.

3. Seek more followers on social media

Secure people also have social media accounts. But they use it for business. If people like their posts, it will be great. But if not, it is also fine. In short, they don’t strive for popularity. They don’t even care how many followers they have online.

4. Dominate a conversation

A secure person talks and listens. He/she will never dictate the pacing of the conversation. A secure person is open to suggestions and new ideas. He/she will listen to even too boring facts because he/she treats everyone equally.

5. Pretend to be the smartest one

Secure people accept their weaknesses. They know that they are not perfect. They don’t bother to impress anyone. Instead, they are eager to learn new things from others.

The human behavior is complex. There are many reasons why a person brags. The points discussed here are only a few. Nonetheless, you’ve just learned the psychology of bragging.