Dealing with a Proud Child

By Joey & Carla Link

April 7, 2021

Do your kids get big heads? Do they think they know more than you do? Do they walk around with their chest puffed out showing a proud, conceited, arrogant heart? Do you have a child who is in the habit of bossing others around, telling them what to do and criticizing them when they don’t do it right? 

This can be common for first born kids and older siblings, to try and boss their younger siblings around, but it’s also the root of bullying and aptly describes a kid who is said to be “strong-willed”. Strong-willed kids have the Choleric temperament, but these attributes are the weak or negative sides of a kid with the Choleric temperament. 

As strong-willed kids don’t have trouble sticking to their guns, perseverance is a strength of theirs. They are dynamic and powerful, thriving on opposition (which is why he/she will wear their parents out when they are trying to correct him long before he gives in). A mature Choleric is determined to do the right thing. They are quick thinkers and quick to act which makes them good in crisis. 

“For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. For there are many who must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” 

Titus 1:7-14 “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 16:5 

If a proud person won’t go unpunished in God’s eyes, then we as God’s servants in raising the kids He has given us, need to be sure we don’t let our kids get away with living with a proud heart. We talked about good pride and bad pride last week and the last thing parents should want is for bad pride to take root in their kids’ hearts and grow like an out-of-control weed that will start to take over their family. 

I (Joey) was talking with a mom one day who was always feeling challenged by her strong-willed child. She said it felt like he was never teachable or open to her training. I (Joey) told her you can’t have pride and arrogance rooted in the same heart with humility and a gentle, teachable spirit.” 

Here are 5 signs of a proud and non-teachable child:1.   The Know It All – They think they are equal to you in knowledge, critical thinking and leadership skills, and will tell you what you are missing in parenting their siblings. They point out to siblings how much better they are than them. 

2.   Impatience – They don’t want to wait for you. They think you should serve them and be ready to go when they are ready to go. They are always in a hurry to get to the next thing. If a child can’t wait on you and tells you what to do, you have a proud child.  

3.   Critical – If your child is critical of you, their siblings, their friends, teachers or others, they are telling you they think they are better than everyone else and can tell them how they should run their lives. A critical child is not a teachable child or a grateful one because they think everyone else needs to rise to their moving standard. 

4.   Ungratefulness – Strong-willed kids are not thankful for the simple things in life like you taking them to sports practice several times a week. They expect you and others to be at their beck and call and to follow their lead on all things. They get upset when you forget something that they want or need when they need to be somewhere. Kids today have so much stuff they often don’t appreciate what they have because when you start taking away things they have lost the freedom to do, their room is full of equally fun things to do so they don’t miss what they lost. 

5.   Boasting – Strong-willed kids are proud of what they have and brag about it to their friends. Boastful minds cause them to look down on others because they think they are better, smarter and more talented than everyone else. It can be shown in their attitude towards others or in the words they say to them. 

How do you correct strong-willed kids? In our book Taming the lecture Bug and Getting Your Kids to Think and in the Mom’s Notes presentations “Understanding Freedoms, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2” you will find the answer to this question. Unfortunately, we are out of room to talk about it here. It’s going to take focus, consistency, perseverance, patience, determination and lots of talking on your part to help the strong-willed child see their sin and humble themselves before God, you and their siblings. These kids need to admit they were wrong which will be very difficult for a proud child but is foundational for them to begin changing their hearts and ways.