Is it possible for a four-year-old to be considered cocky? At what age does innocent childhood self-confidence cross the line into narcissism?

I pondered these questions as my daughter was watching cartoons this morning. I wasn’t paying enough attention to grasp the context, but at some point Mickey Mouse was asking his viewers if they thought they were smart enough to complete whatever task was at hand. Alaina was borderline insulted by the question. “I’m the smartest out of everybody, right Dad?” I mumbled something noncommittal about her being very smart and reminded her to keep working on her sliced apple pieces.

Not long after she was playing with her barbies and Team Umizoomi was on in the background. Apparently it was UmiCar’s birthday and over the course of the party the other characters were telling him that he was “the best.” This pissed her off to a troubling degree. She was “the best” and it was completely ludicrous that anybody else would have the audacity to claim otherwise. I decided it may be time to sit her down for a talk.

Alaina has always been very competitive. Any race that she can’t win she wants to at least end in a tie. She spent a lot of time this summer racing imaginary friends around the pool so that she was guaranteed a win. If another car passes us on the highway I get admonished for driving too slow. The fact that her sixteen-year-old sister is allowed to do things that she isn’t has been a constant source of aggravation.

Self-confidence and a desire to win are very important, but so are sportsmanship and getting along with others. She’s reaching the age where people aren’t going to appreciate being told that she is better than them. I want a strong, self-assured little girl, but the line between that and a stuck up little brat needs to be identified and steps taken to ensure we don’t cross it.

So we had our talk about how she’s probably not going to always be the best at everything that she does. About how she needs to be OK with that. I gave her some tricks I’ve learned for hiding from people the fact that you think you’re better than them.

I’m not sure how much she was listening. It’s possible that she thought I was kidding around. It’s still cute that she thinks the plumber was here just to see her and it can be great playing the “let’s see who can be quietest the longest” game. She always makes sure that she wins.

This post was previously published on and is republished here with permission from the author.

Photo credit: Jeremy Barnes

The post She’s Number One appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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