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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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ASK MOM: Daughter always has to be right, turning into know-it-all

Drawing by Suzanne Johnson

THE PROBLEM: My 14 yo daughter is a know-it-all. I wish I could say something nicer than that, but she’s getting on my last nerve. Whenever anybody tells her anything, she says: “I already knew that,” even if she clearly didn’t. But even worse, she’ll add a detail to make sure everybody sees she knows more than they do. When she’s got her facts mixed up, she’ll have some vague excuse, which always circles back around to her being right. Even though I say it bugs me, it actually makes me sad. Her needing to be right is off-putting not just to me, but to her brother and her friends, too.

MARY SAYS: Although your daughter is 14, you’ve most likely been witnessing this tendency since she was small. I’m guessing she’s a precocious child, and that she might actually know more than other people, since there are many folks who do. But unfortunately, the need to be ‘right’ registers pretty low on the emotional IQ scale, which is what’s far more important here.

The need to be right is difficult to let go of, but much easier when there’s a reason to.

Talk to your daughter about this if you haven’t already. But rather than admonishing her for ‘one-upping’ everybody, help her identify the feeling she has right before she puts her two cents in. Does she want everyone to admire her? Does she feel ‘less-than’ when someone else shines? Is she afraid others will think she’s ignorant?

Your daughter may not appreciate that her need to be right is fueled by an immature impulse. In fact, she may be shocked to discover this about herself. At 14, she’s old enough to understand the concept of emotional maturity, even if her ability to practice it lags behind.

Point out some of the wiser people in her world, the ones who listen more and seek to understand rather than butting in to express their own points of view. Ask her whom she’d rather be? At 14, children seek role models they’d like to emulate when they grow up. They do this whether they know it or not, which is why awareness at this age is so important. Take this opportunity to help your daughter choose her heroes on purpose.

ERIKA SAYS: Can I be honest? Teenagers are far from sunshine and roses; I would be concerned if your teenager weren’t driving you crazy! While your daughter’s behavior is annoying, I find it admirable that she’s bold enough to freely express her opinions. As she transitions from child to young adult, she’s eager to be taken seriously. Your daughter is growing into her own, learning independence, sharing her wealth of knowledge, and learning how to voice her opinions.

As parents, we want to encourage certain qualities in our children but teach them when and how to use them. Here are some tips I think will help you guide your daughter into not being so pesky—without breaking her spirit.

Have an honest conversation with her about her behavior. Find out why she feels the need to present herself as knowing everything. If the root cause of this behavior is insecurity, offer her encouragement and come up with ways to help boost her confidence.

Perhaps your daughter feels misunderstood or overlooked. Explain to her that being a know-it-all won’t make others understand her; forcing opinions on others will only push them away.

Help her recognize when she indulges in this behavior, when she’s correcting someone or adding a piece of information simply to demonstrate she knows more. Don’t call her out in the heat of the moment; the goal is not to embarrass her but to bring her behavior to her attention. The more you call her out, the more she will become aware of how she’s alienating others.

As annoying as this habit may be, offer grace and patience. At this age, teenagers want to be heard and understood. Holding your child accountable for her behavior and allowing her space to speak and be heard will keep her from becoming a know-it-all adult. The teenage know-it-all is far more forgivable than the adult version; the sooner she learns this the better.

ASK MOM offers parents two perspectives on today’s child-rearing issues—one from a mom with grown children (Mary), the other from a mom raising a small child (Erika). If you’re looking for creative solutions, or your mom isn’t around to ask, drop in! 

If you have a question for Mary and Erika, we’d love to hear from you! askmomyourquestion@gmail.com

Read more ASK MOM advice.

Mary FollinMary Follin is author of the award-winning children’s book ETHYR and Teach Your Child to Read™, an online phonics program for children ages 3-6. She is mom to two grown kids. Follow Mary on Instagram at @advice_mom.

Erika Guerrero is a freelance hair and makeup artist, Erika K. Beauty, single-mama to one amazing boy, and author of She’s Not Shaken, a blog offering hope and encouragement to women in all walks of life.

Suzanne Johnson, mom of five children and grandma of six, is an illustrator, book cover designer, and author of Realms of Edenocht.

 

 

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