Dr. Friendtastic for Parents
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Lillian, Age 11: How to stay calm when someone is bragging

Lillian, Age 11: How to stay calm when someone is bragging

Ep. 53 - Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic: Knowing the difference between bragging and sharing good news

Bragging is annoying because it carries an implied putdown: “I’m better than you!” Lillian wants to know how to stay calm when someone is bragging. But are they bragging or just sharing good news?

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Scroll down for podcast TRANSCRIPT, DISCUSSION QUESTIONS, and how to submit YOUR CHILD’S QUESTION.

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Think About It Questions to discuss with your child

For a quick and easy friendship lesson, play the podcast up to the end of the kid’s question, then ask your child/students what advice they’d give. Play my answer, then use the discussion questions below to deepen your child’s/students’ understanding.

  • Why is bragging NOT a good way to make friends? (Hint: How does it make other people feel?) What are some better ways to make friends?

  • What does Dr. Friendtastic mean when she says, “Most of the time, when people are bragging, there is no contest”? Why might keeping that in mind be helpful for staying calm when someone is bragging?

  • Have you ever felt envious of something good that happened to a friend? What was the thing that made you feel envious? How did you handle it? How did it affect your friendship?

  • Has anyone ever told you, “Quit bragging!”? Do you think you were bragging? Why or why not? What did you do after that?


Hi, there! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.

Here’s today’s question:

Hi, my name is Lillian. How can I try to stay calm when someone brags to me?

Hi, Lillian, thanks for sending in your question! Oof, it’s annoying when we hear someone bragging! You’re definitely not alone in feeling irritated when someone brags at you!

Let’s think for a moment about why bragging is so annoying. When someone says, “I’m great!” there’s an implied message that says, “I’m better than you!”, so bragging can feel like a put-down. 

What doesn’t work when someone says, “I’m great! I’m the best!” is to counter with “No, I’m great! I’m the best!” because that just leads to a silly and pointless argument: “No, I’m great!” “No, I’m great!” “No, I’m great!” 

In a real contest, there are rules and points and official judges and maybe even a trophy or medal at the end. But most of the time, when people are bragging, there is no contest. Who is most great is not a contest. Reminding yourself that there is no contest can help you be less upset by bragging.

Sometimes kids brag because they’re trying to get people to like them. They think if they impress other kids, those kids will want to be their friend. That’s not how friendship works. If you want to make friends, being interested in other people will work better than trying to make them admire you. But if you hear someone bragging, you might feel less upset if you think to yourself, “Maybe this is just a clumsy effort to try to get me to like them.”

So how can you respond when someone is bragging? My suggestion is to say, in your most bored tone of voice, “Congratulations.” 

“I got here first!” 


“I got more!”


“Mine is bluer!”


This will not instantly stop them from bragging. What it will do is make bragging less interesting or satisfying for the bragger. It will also give you a way to respond without getting angry and help you remember that whatever they’re bragging about really doesn’t matter. There is no contest, so who cares if they win…nothing.

But wait: there’s another issue we need to think about: How can you tell the difference between bragging versus sharing good news?

Mostly it’s about the tone of voice. If the tone is a mocking, “Haha! I’m better than you!” it’s definitely bragging. On the other hand, if the tone is excited, like “I’m so happy this happened!” or just factual, like “A good thing happened to me” then it’s probably sharing good news.

Let’s be honest: sometimes when a friend shares good news, we feel envious because we wish that good thing had happened to us. That’s human. And at the same time, to be a good friend, we need to find a way to be happy for our friends when good things happen to them. 

So, notice those feelings of envy because they could be hints about what matters to you or what you might want to work toward. Remind yourself that something good happening to your friend usually doesn’t take anything away from you. 

You might want to talk about feeling envious with your grown-up because difficult feelings can be easier to bear when we share them. Your grown-up might also have good suggestions about how you could move toward getting at least some of what you want. 

But with your friend, it’s important to be generous and say, with as much genuine caring as you can muster, “I’m happy for you!”

This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If you have a question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and click on the podcast tab to see how to submit your question. 

Do you want to learn even more about friendship? Check out my funny and practical books for kids: Growing Friendships: A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends, and my new book, Growing Feelings: A Kids’ Guide to Dealing with Emotions About Friends and Other Kids. They’re available through your library or wherever you buy books.

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The Dr. Friendtastic for Parents newsletter and the Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic podcast are for educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation. I trust you to use your judgment about what’s right for your child and your family.

Dr. Friendtastic for Parents
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic
Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic is a podcast for children about making and keeping friends. Each 5-minute episode features an audio recording of a question about friendship from a kid plus a practical and thought-provoking answer from Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, (also known as Dr. Friendtastic,) who is an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ. For transcripts and discussion questions, go to https://DrFriendtastic.com/podcast. To submit a question, go to https://DrFriendtastic.com/submit.