My Child is Smart. Want to Punch Me Now?

My child is smart.

Can you think of a single sentence uttered by a parent that can draw more ire, more eyerolls, more nasty playgroup talk behind your back?

I realize that over the past several months, I have not once written about the language explosion happening daily chez Mom101, about how completely enthralled I have been watching my daughter go from caca to cracker to Mommy, more crackers pleeeeeease. She even tosses in the occasional thank you with such a self-satisfied upward lilt to her voice it breaks my heart into tiny shards each and every time.

And yet somehow I’ve been hesitant to broach the topic on my blog, fearful of sounding like one of those moms. You know, the one who has her child signing at 6 months, pushes him into into foreign language immersion classes at 12 months, and starts drilling him on homemade international heads of state flashcards all before he’s old enough to eat a raisin without choking.

(That is, an organic raisin. Of course.)

And so instead I overcompensate by saying nothing at all. Or worse, downplaying any achievements she might have, countering acknowledgments of her verbal skills with inane retorts like, “yeah but she doesn’t have any hair like your beautiful little girl!”


I’m not saying that Thalia’s brilliant by any stretch, or even particularly advanced (whatever that means at this age). While she counts to 6 all day long, she counts 2 birds as 6 just the same as she counts 20 birds as 6. Ask her what comes after 6 and sometimes it’s 7, sometimes it’s apple. The alphabet song begins with A B C D A B C. And the colors of her little play tunnel that she recently identified are apparently red, blue, and orange juice.

See, there I go again: She’s highly verbal but….

But what?

It seems we can talk about our children’s chronic booger-eating habit. We can talk about their sleep challenges. We can talk about their inability to put anything in their mouths at dinnertime that isn’t beige. But gush with awe at their ability to name 74 different animals and you’re just not someone I’d care to get to know better, thankyouverymuch. Because “my child can count!” or “my child likes books better than toys!”or “my child can tell a camel from a dromedary!” just sounds way too much like like “your child will be working for my child one of these days. Probably in the mailroom.”

So instead, we do this dance of self-deprecation with mom friends, terrified (or at best reluctant) to share those very moments that give us the most joy.

It’s like we become the opposite of competimommies — we become noncompetimommies.

It’s not hard to figure out why we do this. Let’s face it, it’s easier to bond with other women by confessing our insecurities and shortcomings rather than our successes–and I think this goes double when our children are involved. The line between expressing awe and boasting is so fine, so precarious, that it’s better not to tap dance within a hundred miles of it at all.

I also have a theory that we, as a society, just don’t like achievement all that much to begin with.

Am I nuts? Think back, not all that long ago, to a certain presidential election. If I recall correctly, one presidential candidate was vilified for his command of the English language and Ivy education. His competitor’s similar education (not to mention far more privileged upbringing) was only acceptable to the masses given his crappy grades and propensity for making up words.
Was being smart ever cool? Maybe not in our lifetimes. Just ask anyone who has ever considered putting a “my kid can beat up your honor student” bumper sticker on the back of his SUV. But I wish we could make it so for our children.

Because now that I have one–almost two–hell yes I want her to be proud of her smarts, her skills, her successes, whatever they may be. I think it starts with us being proud of our children, and, if we can possibly handle it, each other’s. I want so very much for women to be able to put aside our own insecurities and try to find happiness in the happiness of our fellow moms, even if that happiness is rooted in something super-cool that their child is doing that ours isn’t just yet.

Can we? Is it even possible?

Let’s start here. Tell me – what’s your kid up to these days? What’s the thing that you’ve been reluctant to share that makes you smile so hard you think your face will crack? What’s the thing that makes you think oh wow, I made this person. He came out of me and now…this!

Spill it. You know you want to.


Edited to add: I agree wholeheartedly with commenters who point out the distinction between “my child is God’s gift to the world” boasting and simply sharing accomplishments. My fear is that we–I–rarely do the latter for fear of sounding like it’s the former. Bragging is icky. But being able to express the awe that we all feel as we watch our children grow and evolve and achieve – that’s a pretty nice thing.


85 thoughts on “My Child is Smart. Want to Punch Me Now?”

  1. I think that part of what holds us back from crowing about our children’s accomplishments is the fear of being upstaged – even more than the fear of being seen as a competimommy. “How wonderful that your child can count to six! My Madysynne can count to sixty, and she’s six months younger than yours, isn’t she?”Having two children has taught me that what the first one does is not a reliable predictor of what the second one can do. For example, when Tacy was 18 months old, she knew her alphabet. CJ is 26 months old and I’m thrilled to bits when she says “Peeeeessss!”. I’ll be happy if she can sing the alphabet song when she’s four.But CJ leads me to the potty and starts to unfasten her own diaper. Tacy steadfastly avoided the potty until she was 2.5.They’re so different – even as siblings, let alone the differences between all of our children. And they’re all individuals, with unique talents and abilities – right from the start.Sure, I wish CJ talked more – if only because there would be less screaming around this house (from both of us). But honestly, I rarely look at what she can or can’t do compared to Tacy or to other kids.So…what are my girls up to? Well, tonight CJ painted herself pink Amazon-style out on the deck. And Tacy announced that she plans to be a rock star when she grows up.What can I say? They make me laugh.

  2. It is really difficult for me to “put my best foot forward”, even when it comes to my kids. I’m always excusing their abilities (“well, she DID talk really early, but she didn’t walk until she was 18 months!” or “Oh, he’s well-behaved here, but you should see him at home!”). I do think you are right–I should be proud of them–well, I AM proud of them–but I should EXPRESS that pride, and express it so they can hear it. It would be good for them to hear it.Although, I have to admit, I completely hate hearing anybody else talk about how great their kids are, or how fantastic their marriage is, or how they know just the right way to do everything. I tend to be skeptical of people like that: if you feel so compelled to talk about it all the time, you must not be very confident in it. After all, I am confident that my kids are pretty fucking great, and I don’t need to talk about it.I don’t know. Though I see the value in it, I despise it.

  3. Brag away, that is what blogs are for. I use mine to brag so that I don’t bore my friends.The thing that has been tickling me the most about my kids is also their verbal development. Evan took so long to even talk because of his heart defect. Now that he has had his final corrective surgery his verbal abilities have really taken off. I am constantly amazed with the words he comes up with. He mimics things that I say and I don’t even realize it.Harry has also been adding a lot of words to his vocabulary. What gets me is now many of the words he uses are the ones that Evan repeats frequently. It is so touching seeing how he learns so much from his older brother.

  4. My grandma always said…“Nothing said <>to<> other people or <>by<> other people should be of any consequence.What is said <>to your children<>…<>that<> is where the opportunity lies. Praise, encourage, and support them. Whether anyone else is around to hear it or not.”She was a wise ol’ gal, wasn’t she? 🙂

  5. Oh my goodness, you are are so ON with this. It’s true. My son is pretty danged smart and I’m very proud of him. But I’m very hesitant to talk about it to other mothers or anyone else who might think I’m bragging. He’s in the first grade and reads at a fourth grade level! He scored 97% on the district-wide math assessment test! Heck half the time the teacher doesn’t even know what to do with him because he’s so far ahead of most of the kids in his class. That just makes the buttons want to pop off my blouse, I’m so proud. 🙂 Thanks for the outlet!

  6. My son (14, HS Junior) is studying sound waves in a Physics class for kids who want to be in music technology. I have absolutely no idea of what he’s talking about. None.Next year he’s going to take abnormal psychology, latin 4, and more physics. OK. My daughter (14, HS Freshman) is studying physics as well, only she’s doing engineering. She just finished making a solar car, and then went onto a making a windmill that can mak up to 7 volts of electricity. Her windmill made 14 volts, and spun so fast that the spokes jumped off the hub and embedded all over the science lab walls. I’m so proud! Next year she’ll be taking another engineering class and woodworking. Although my kids are GT, our state has no GT programs at all, but they allow kids to start taking classes at the Jr College level after grade 9. Both kids will be taking something this summer at the local community college, but we don’t know what. brag off/

  7. I’m constantly “apologizing” for Ada’s verbal skills. “Girls tend to talk earlier” “yeah, she’s pretty chatty.” or other minimizing blahblahblah on my part. She’s got sentences and jokes and after seeing them at the zoo, declarations that she is, when shirtless, a naked mole rat. Singing and sometimes sharing and hugs and kisses. And an amazing memory. I’m constantly saying “yes! three weeks ago you did read this book on the couch with grandma!”Ok, now I can go to bed. My day is complete

  8. My daughter knows the alphabet at age 1.8 and she identified shapes and colors at 1.7. She’s potty-trained at 1.10, she climbs out of her bed at night when she feels like she want to pee and goes to her baby potty. She can operate the DVD player at 2, (turns on tv then puts in DVD and pushes the play button).She can count and read numbers from 1-25. But when I ask her what the number after 25 is, she’ll she’s tired and she wants to play house instead.There. I let it out. You’re right. I only want to share it because I’m just so amazed at how she’s able to learn these things… 🙂

  9. wow this is pretty interesting. I have to admit I was more interested in the meta-commentary than people talking about what their kids could do. Even if what their kids are doing is amazing…I don’t really know how to respond. All I can think of is a sort of kindergarten response like “good for you!” or “how special”. and those sorts of things well, if someone says them to me, i realise instantly that I need to shut up.i actually just wrote about this. addy will turn 2 on wednesday. I know all of her development in my eyes will make her seem incredibly smart, and i have no compulsion to compare her to other people kids…i unwittingly did that when she was a baby (rather indirectly, but still) and realized how repellent it is interesting the person who also said that saying your marraige was good was repellent. i guess it is. but personally only ever really did it because i didn’t like it if people complained about their spouse, so i do, did the opposite of for addy, i know that bragging about her is like bragging about how many reps i did at the gym, its good and all, but really, it falls into a sort of personal category, i guess. but aren’t those developments fun…if I would have known it would be like this i would have started sooner.

  10. I’ve written so much on verbal issues on my own blog lately. You can read all about it in recent entries there, I’ll just say here that my younger child is in all honesty quite advanced for her age in English, but her Hebrew is lagging far enough behind to be causing her serious issues in school as she shuts down in frustration (and since we live in Israel the bilingual thing is not a competitive over-achieving thing, it’s a necessity). What I’d really like to say here is how very right mothergoosemouse is. Any hubris my husband and I might have harbored about our parenting skills went right out the window when confronted with child #2. They are completely different in such completely unimaginable ways. Yes, both are bright and verbally precocious, but their real talents are so wonderfully diverse (as are the not so wonderfully diverse ways they can each push our buttons!). Itai is a born negotiator, highly skilled at using logic and persuasion to get what he wants. Maya is a free spirit, a daredevil. He teaches her how to get mom and dad to say yes to something, she teaches him not to be afraid to jump into the big pool. Most importantly, they bring wonder and laughter into our house each and every day as we wait to see what they’ll come up with today.As for the original subject of your post, since boy did I get myself off track here, yes, I do sometimes catch myself belittling their achievements so as not to look like I’m bragging, or not to make someone else feel badly. If someone does comment favorably, I’ve been known to respond with something like “but your daughter was potty-trained a full year before mine”.I wish I could be confident enough in both myself and others’ intentions to just say a simple “thank you” when a compliment is given.

  11. Funny enough… what I found when I moved to Tanzania is that here it is actually OK – acceptable, and even encouraged – to talk about your kids and their acheivements. One just needs to get away from the craziness of US parenting.Jaden told his first, very purposeful, verbal joke last week. He was super-proud of himself – and the joke really was funny. Funny enough to get Rowan, Paul (our driver) and me laughing for about 10 minutes.Rowan is a counting queen. She’s working on 30 – but somehow keeps coming back to eleventeen – her new favorite word. She is also becoming quite a dancer! (Following in her mommy’s footsteps.)Boy… that was fun!

  12. I’m going to avoid bragging about my kids here (though I’m tempted), because I do that enough (too much?) on my own site. I will say that I strongly agree with mothergoosemouse on this one. My two kids’ strengths lie nowhere near one another and point to genetics playing a pretty large role in their cognitive development. Ben is as right-brained as they come, and Jack as left-brained. Interestingly, Jack is a leftie, and Ben a righty.(I’m a leftie, too — and a writer, not an engineer, like their father, who’s right-handed!)Pondering this…

  13. Now I’m really feeling bad about last week’s < HREF="" REL="nofollow">is there no justice<> because my son is NOT Rainman and is, in fact, a mostly happy, handsome little boy. There I said it. I think a lot of people avoid bragging about their children and their marriages b/c 1. There’s no humor in superiority and 2. There is the danger of sounding like one is spewing disingenuous PR.So I’ll try harder to celebrate the small stuff but I still need to vent every now and again.

  14. This is so interesting, Liz. As a looker-on to lots of friends with kids, the reaction you describe happens all the time when you comment on how bright/ beautiful/ friendly/good a child is. Even to me when I was childless. It always seemed to me kind of like an extention of the difficulty that people (women) have accepting compliments in general. Wanting to minimize and rationalize to take the focus off or to convey the message that ‘I’m not that great.’Great post. Interesting to think about.

  15. My (almost) 4 year old son is staying dry at night. I know this is the right age to be doing this but I know so many kids that don’t. It’s so much fun in the morning to see the stars still on his pullup. And yes, bragging feels weird.

  16. Spill it. Start talking. I think you raise interesting issues that take us beyond the “bragging mom/grandma torture. It’s really not the sharing, it’s incessant bragging that one child is the gift to all mankind. I think there’s an important place to share a child’s development and life without being overbearing. One of the things I love about my youngest brother is that he can share his daughters with me as they grow, just amazed at how they grow without using the word “brilliant”. Just the wow of nature is enough and you are great at taking the specific in search of the universal. That’s why I love this blog. I want more!

  17. I agree with Queen Haline. The more American moms I read, the more I wish I could grab them and bring them here (Italy), where life is so much easier. So what if you have to deal with a lot of chauvinism? At least you can brag about your kids in peace.

  18. I think the problem comes when you meet mommies that claim everything is perfect. Their child slept all night when she came home. The child had perfect sentences at 12 months old and on and on. And basically, it was because of them. That is the impression I get from some moms and yes I dont want to hang out with them. I dont need anyone telling me I suck because my 14 month old doesnt know sign language and cant walk, yet. I am proud of all of my children’s abilities and achievements, but I do know they are not perfect. And I dont want them to be. I will gloat that at 14 months old Sam is starting to walk and points to what he wants. He is fond of milk. We clap and yell everytime he stands on his own and takes a few steps. I bet he is the best crawler in these parts. I would put him in a race with any baby.What can I say about the 5 year old? I am amazed everyday of the things that come out of her mouth or the things she know.I just keep telling myself, my kids may not know what others do,but they will eventually.

  19. Let’s see, I just love how polite my little guy is becoming. He’s quick to say “Peaz” and “Tank You” and sometimes even, “You’re welcome, Mommy.” He’s talking in complete sentences now in a sweet baby voice. It’s amazing!He really is a smart little guy (he’s 2) and I love him dearly. 🙂

  20. I got a couple.The Poo knows the difference between letters and numbers, and she can almost spell her name by rote.She also pretends like the dickens. She has a set of rubber duckies she calls “the family” and they have the most amazing adventures: they climb mountains, they go to grandma’s house, they eat macaroni … you get the idea. She tells herself stories all the time, and she also already has an imaginary friend, Rocket.Of course, this imagination also gives her terrible night terrors.She is only 27 months old.I am so freaking proud of her I could explode.I agree with you 100 percent. I’ve been wanting to write about her accomplishments but pulled back for precisely the reasons you’ve put down here.Thanks for “outing” all us proud moms.

  21. I don’t see anything wrong with bragging about your kids at all. I just noticed though, that in all my posts on my blog, I rarely ever mention my kids accomplishments (maybe once or twice). Instead I’ve chosen to post about their misgivings, or problems etc. I’m going to have to watch that and start putting in posts that mention their accomplishments – I don’t want them to someday read it and think I only thought negatively about them. I just find it’s easier to share the bad than the good – and I have no idea why I’ve done that. Thank you so much for making this post. It’s really made me look at what I’ve been focusing on. I should be focusing more on the good they’ve done than the bad…

  22. Because I live in a house where all I hear is negative this and that — and when I say “look how tall Q is” they say “oh she’s not that tall” I find myself a bit more comfy with bragging.Most of the time I don’t brag about her on my own, but if someone asks what she’s doing, I tell them and they are usually like “wow” — she colors in the lines at 32 months, she draws pictures of people with arms/legs/nose/mouth/eyes/feet, and she talks extremely well. I did read or see something about how telling kids they are smart actually doesn’t help them but rather to tell them they are hard workers — they found that the “smart” kids who knew they were smart tended to slack off.I still tell her she’s smart and I try to find the positive — particularly during these trying times when she’s doing way more to piss me off than make me want to swoon over her.And really, I think bragging that’s annoying is when the parents are trying to gain some type of one up on you personally when they “brag” — for me, I’m just so proud of my kid and so happy for her. Sure. It makes me feel good — but honestly, I’m not sure I did anything to foster her amazing brain power but offer a few of my precious dna. 🙂

  23. My daughter hasn’t shown any outward signs of brilliance yet, I’m sad to report. That’s not self-deprecation; it’s a fact. However, I will brag that she is one tidy indidividual, and, in her short life so far, has already put more things away when she was done with them and closed more doors behind her than I have in my entire life 🙂

  24. Hmmmm. . . . thought provoking. I think you can talk about your child’s achievements in a measured way (as you just did). It should be measured because: 1) don’t we all think our little one is brilliant? And of course they can’t <>all<> be in Mensa; and 2)it can be off-putting at times.My husband and I laugh at the fact that our friends’ kids seem to have the lock on gifted and talented classes. At least to hear their parents tell it. It just can’t be.I also think parents are way to hung up on wanting their kids to be smart. I’ll take a kind child over a smart one any day. The best thing I heard you say? That Thalia says “thank you.” I’ll cheer with you about that any day without feeling competitive.That said, she does sound really smart too. Counting before age two! Awesome.

  25. So you mean I’m NOT supposed to be constantly showing off my kids’ skills to all the other moms? So that’s why I never get invited to playgroups! (Heel of hand smacking forehead.)The cool thing that happened for me was last Thursday, when I was picking up Cole from preschool where I just enrolled him three weeks ago. The director of the preschool came out of her office to tell me how glad she is that I enrolled him and that he’s really doing well, going so far as to say that he is in all his glory at school.I think I may get a little verklempt!

  26. A few years ago, I came across an article claiming that the antagonism towards achievement you describe here was a uniquely Canadian prejudice (this was articulated specifically in contrast to the U.S. where, supposedly, there was no such propensity to punish ability and success). I think your election argument is a pretty persuasive counter-argument to that theory.It’s such a give away, isn’t it, that “Oh but she doesn’t have X like your daughter!” We all know that such apologies are meant to conceal your conviction that your daughter is superior to all other daughters. But we don’t mind. You should feel like that about your child, and it is nice not to have to put up with straightforward expressions of that very natural sentiment.So it’s my turn to brag? My 3-year-old son can play Zelda on the Game Cube, operating all the controls correctly. (He’s self-taught. A genius! A genius with neglectful parents who let him play Game Cube at 3 years of age!)

  27. Belly was incredibly verbal, talking in complete paragraphs before she was 2. Yet, now at 6, she is struggling to read.Jilly was walking at 9 months, climbing by a year. At 4, she falls off of EVERYTHING, so much so that when I hear a thud, I know it was her and barely budge.D could operate a CD player by 18 months but at 2 1/2 he has maybe a half-dozen words. Past performance does not predict future results. In the end, my kids all seem amazing and wonderful and advanced in one way or another, but probably are no more so than anyone else’s kids.

  28. I really don’t feel that it is bragging so much as just simple amazement. You know, I have no idea when I learned my ABCs. I figured it was about 3rd grade or so. 😉 I just don’t think I ever gave kids credit enough that they could learn at such an early age. My son, (I should point out, my 2ND son, because I didn’t take time to teach him anything.) taught himself the ABCs. No help from me. I think that kids have the drive to learn and are more amazing then we think. When I boost that my son taught himself to add, I am not saying that he is better then anyother kid, I am saying he is smarter then ME! The desire that all kids have to learn is something I wish I still had.

  29. I don’t really completely buy into the competimommy-non-competimommy thing because I think I am more of your average “I-can’t-believe I’m-really-a-parent” type parent. I’m just clueless most of the time. But I often find myself watching her as if she were a science project. A kind of project that doesn’t seek to change the outcome that is: It’s more of a “What is she going to be like” not “How can we get to to be like this.”It’s amazing to watch your kids figure things out, the basics that we take for granted such as speech and understanding. It’s so much so that it’s really hard to look away. Other people may see this developemt as ho hum because procreation isn’t revolutionary. But when it’s your own little corner of the world, it’s difficult to put down the recording devices … you know, just in case posterity needs it …Everyone tells me that Annabel’s language development is unusual for a child her age. But I have no idea what that means? She’s around mostly adults all the time. I can’t image we don’t rub off a little in the language area.I think my kid is smart for sure, but is she comparably intellegent to say the kid who goes to college at 12? I have no clue but I doubt it. And even if she were that smart I think I might try and ignore it: we would need WAY more time to save for the college fund.

  30. Great post. Made me say hmmmm…I guess I do tend to point out the annoyances and trials and tribulations of having 3 boyz, but rarely do I cheer at their individual accomplishments.Note to self: must focus on the positive developments MORE.

  31. Thanks Liz for such an interesting topic to think about and some even more interesting commentary in the comments.I was recently in a situation where another Mother would NOT shut up about her daughter and how brilliant she is and a close friend of mine jumped in and started bragging about my kids but this woman was not about to be outdone. I was so put off by it I just quit talking to her.As another before me put it, early achievement does not always translate into later sucess. I could give numerous examples but what purpose does it serve? All kids are amazing and parents should be able to talk about accomplishments without fear of retribution but as with anything, it only takes a few to ruin that party for everyone.The important thing for me is that my kids know that I think they are awesome no matter what they do and when they do it.Thanks again for bringing up such a thought provoking topic!

  32. I think it’s easier to talk about poop and boogers because people do get pissed at you for bragging. Even when you’re not really bragging, they are more than willing to think you are. Trust me, the looks I get when I say Maya’s in an accelerated kindergarten are priceless…and not necessarily in a good way.However, I do think we should be able to celebrate our kids accomplishments without the fear of judgement. So…I think Thalia being so verbal before two years old is awesome. I for one, am thrilled to hear about her brilliance. Here goes mine, Maya made brownies with almost no help this weekend. Yes, they were out of a box, but she added the crap and did it all except for putting it in the oven and taking it out. And Nata, well she takes pictures of herself all the time with the camera on my phone. Maybe not a great accomplishment, but still it’s dam cute to find pictures of your toddlers eye and nostril on your cell three days later. See now, that wasn’t so hard. 🙂

  33. Dude I brag ALL DAY LONG about my kids on my blog. But then again, a big chunk of the reason I write it is for them. They’re going to read it someday and I don’t want them to ever think I was apologetic for their accomplishments when the reality is that I couldn’t be prouder.

  34. I have to echo Fairly Odd Mother’s sentiments here. Early abilities often have no association with later ones.Kid #1 was reading at 2…self-taught. I didn’t HAVE to brag; as long any words were around, he could crow singlehandedly. Of course, he wasn’t trying to brag…just doing what came naturally to him. I have many witnesses. And I remember getting lots of nasty looks from them. Thought he’d be a literary genius. (Nope.)Yes, he’s very smart at 18, and has been accepted by a top university, but math trumps reading exponentially in his world. His favorite read is the sports page.#2-the ‘slow’ one- wasn’t reading fluently until 4. Gasp ! What was wrong with him? We’d done all the same things…Now you can’t find him without a book in his hand, and he is a far more talented writer than his brother. Not to mention a ceaseless philosopher who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, while his brother is content to watch a ball game.So I agree with Slouching Mom as well: this stuff is so very genetic that we have quite limited control over it all. I honestly believe that one of my sons was encoded with what it takes to be a writer, the other endowed with a whip-smart math brain.And they complement each other nicely.Off to pick them up from The- Academy-for-the- Oh-So-Frightfully-Gifted…

  35. Liz – This statement “Let’s face it, it’s easier to bond with other women by confessing our insecurities and shortcomings rather than our successes” – HELL YEAH! I feel this holds true about many things, including our roles as mommies (we share countless instances of why it’s hard or trying or thankless, but I’m finding it harder and harder to find those willing to share that life as a mother is good). Re: accomplishments – It really depends who I’m sharing the info with. Family – oh, I brag (b/c they do know that my children are the most beautiful and smartest children on the planet and they will not take offense since they know the truth ;-)). But seriously, no competition going on.Friends w/no children or much older children – I like to share accomplishments or show pictures and say “look at how beautiful my children are.” Again, no competition to worry about.Friends w/children around the same age – I’m careful b/c I don’t want to be one of those mommies who is trying to compete, one-up, etc. So I might say “yeah, G is doing that too” when they mention something their kid is doing.I’m thrilled with G’s (will be 4 in June) interest in puzzles. He has several 24 & 35 piece puzzles he likes to put together.And he is constantly saying things like “I want you to be my friend” or “I like you” or best of all, saying “I like E.” He’s FINALLY warming up to his baby sister!!!E is 18 months and has started to really assert her independence (i.e., not wanting to hold my hand when we walk). And she can say “I love you” although it comes out like “ah laaa lou” – G didn’t say that forever.

  36. My baby girl, B (9) sings like a bird. She walks around the house all day singing, and completely on key. She is the only one of our 3 that actually got our love for music. It’s blissful!

  37. Yesterday, in his quest to avoid a nap, my 3 yr old son Gabe crawled into my lap, said, “I wanna lay on your shoulder, Mama,” snuggled in and sighed, and then said, “Mama, you’re my beeeeesssssstt friend. And you’re safe now. I’ll keep you safe.”My heart burst. I wanted to laugh, cry, and announce his reigning compassion to the entire world, all at the same time.

  38. Bossy thinks you’d do well in her circle of friends where speaking positively about one’s kids is just as likely as the self-deprecating Mommy Stand-up routines. But Bossy is usually slumped in the corner wishing the conversation could turn to Great Danes because lord does Bossy have a smart one!

  39. Well said and so true. My daughter has had a beautiful head of brown hair since she was born and I have always been downplaying because I really do get a lot of compliments about it and I actually felt bad. That is messed up. It makes me smile when my 15 month grabs a book and lays on her back and pretends to read it to me. This is also the same girl who holds dog toys in her mouth and pretends to be a dog.

  40. I ditto the recommendation to read that article, interesting stuff! Now I’m all self-conscious when I tell the kids they’re smart! I try to be a little more constructive w/my praise now.

  41. Meaghan, thank you for that – that article was actually what I set out to write about at first but my meandering mind works in mysterious ways…I’m not sure I entirely agree with it. I figure if it’s okay to tell our daughters that they are pretty it’s okay to tell them that they’re smart too. But hey, maybe I’ll have to work on that post after all.

  42. I brag a little about my daughter’s accomplishments, although it’s really not all that often. I think it’s mainly because I don’t see her accomplishments as anything outstanding – in other words, there is always someone who can tell me their kid did it sooner, faster, or better, and then I don’t feel as proud. So let’s see: she can count to 19 now, but can’t figure out what comes next. She can recognize some shapes and colors, although orange and red are always mixed up. And she’s finally learned to tell me when she has a messy diaper, but can’t quite notice until she’s already gone in her diaper, which is making any steps towards potty training slow going.She’s also created three unique songs using the word “TV” over and over, that she sings non-stop until someone turns on the TV for her.

  43. First off, I didn’t bother to read any other comments because obviously they won’t live up to my sweet pea’s accomplishments. She can count to 29 in Swahili. Plus, she can swear in like 20 different languages (although strangely it all sounds like fuck)hmmm. and she can give you a kiss like you are the only person who exists on the planet that has any meaning to her.

  44. I have never even thought about this before, but you are so right.So, what are we up to?Heck, I am just glad that the potty training is over. Oh, and that Katie knows the words to (and can recite them on demand) “Pump It” by The Black Eyed Peas. Hallelujah.Carrie

  45. I actually have some thoughts on this issue–that it’s part of a posture we adopt, almost as a form of apology for writing. “look, I know I blog about myself and my kids, but I’m not *really* up my own arse, honest.”But I will dream up an awe-post that is not too cringeworthy, just for you.

  46. I’ve always been rather horrified at how much some mothers — almost never fathers — will talk down about their kids. It’s appalled me to the point that I really try not to mention any negatives my kid might have to fellow parents. It just seems to be not supportive. Perhaps it’s as you say; they don’t want to be viewed as the boasting sorts. I’ve just found it rather cruel. I love my kids. They are usually sweet. They aim to please. They try their hardest. And they make me laugh. And they’re happy. And I’m so glad they’re thriving.

  47. Interesting post….I know I downplay things my kids do at times, depending on who I’m talking to. Even though any bragging I do is not intended as “my kid is better than yours” it seems people can’t help but take it that way. (Not all, but some.)My oldest (8) is a reader. I love to read, so this makes my heart swell with pride. My youngest (4) is starting to learn to write, which will put him well ahead of his brother when he starts K this fall.

  48. Oh yea! This should be fun… my 4 year old is an amazing horsewomen. Naturally talented and able to feel what the horse is going to do. Watching her takes my breath away. The first time she rode a horse by herself (at 3) she had complete control and confidence.

  49. I generally tell stories about Shecky that amuse me. He’s almost 7 and has this weird, dry, highly developed sense of humor for a kid his age. I blame my father! heh. He’s smart. Has made all A’s a B’s this year. His teachers always adore him. I got an email from his teacher last week. He told her he may not be back at that school next year (We’re moving but unsure where just yet) and she wanted to let me know that it made her sad that she wouldn’t see his sweet smile next year in the halls. 🙂 Oh! And he loves his Mommah most of all Gods thingies… (that’s a quote heh)

  50. Guilty as charged. I get stuck griping about the reasons for time-out, the potty training disasters and squabbles over toys.Privately we gush about how my 4 year old is reading and my little guy talks like a mini-adult. Somehow it just feels like, well, bragging, to put it out there. Of course, someday in the not too distant future my kids might feel more confident if I focused more on their accomplishments. For now, maybe we should just work on bumper stickers that say “My kid can out-think yours.” Any better ideas for stickers?

  51. Today I sat through my 5th grader reading his autobiography outloud. Eventhough he kept his face covered the whole time and I could hardly hear him, my heart swelled with pride.I’m so proud of my kids when they’re being funny. A sense of humor is so important in this sometimes crappy life. They’ve got oogles of funny in them, and that just makes life more fun.

  52. Great post, Liz. I think it’s too bad pride has become an “evil” in our society. So many kids are raised to be humble — and I’m just not convinced that’s a 100% good thing. It also depends much on the children. I have a bit of a different perspective because my kids are homeschooled and family, friends often make me feel that I need to “prove” that my kids ARE educated. So I tend to be quite verbal about their accomplishments. I also have one child who is extermely sensitive and self-concious, so I encourage him to be proud every chance I get.And on the subject of bragging, MY 2 yo knows her ABCs (and the sounds that accompany most of them – thanks to the Leapster!), counts to 18 and has an awesome vocabulary. 🙂

  53. Here’s something else to ponder-what do you do if one of your children is just…average? My oldest son is acing every subject in school, his teacher goes on and on about how great he is. At 16 months, Kaitlyn says hot, hat, spoon, woof, up, dat (that), mama, dada, and rahrah (Ryan). The other day she climbed up on the bathroom stepstool, pointed to the water faucet for me to turn on, wet her hands, pointed to the hand soap for me to pump onto her hand, rubbed her hands together, and then rinsed them clean.But I would be hard-pressed to come up with something about Nathan that is brag worthy. And I know that sounds terrible, but he is having problems at school due to ADHD, doesn’t play any sports, he is just average. It makes me not want to brag about the other two for fear of hurting his feelings.

  54. Elizabeth, Every child does something that makes you proud whether it’s how gently he pets the dog, how kind he is to other kids or the way he hugs you goodnight. Brag away, mama.

  55. I’m glad someone said it. It’s so hard to find the line between proud and bragging. I default to self-deprication myself and find it’s a hard habit to break, even when talking about my daughter. I jest in my blog about how “advanced” she is, but deep down it’s hard for me to seriously talk about her achievements without adding the “but…” as not to sound like a jerk. We had her 6 month visit to the pediatrician the other day and she asked if she was turning over both ways. I chose to stifle the fact that she’d been doing that since she was three months old rather than sound like an obnoxious parent. How sad is that??? It’s the PEDIATRICIAN. The person who should be kept up on her development. Anywho, thank you for the entry. It hit home.Whew. I’m done now.

  56. I think you have hear Nathan singing abilities and my 25 month old has been riding a tricycle since he was 18 months old. We were hoping he would find a cure for cancer but it looks like we’ll have to settle for an BMX champion. It’s my every dream…

  57. Well here’s something I think about quit often. My two oldest have always been in advanced classes. My oldest was “labeled” gifted at a very young age. The second guy though he doesn’t have the “label” is in advanced classes across the board. My 3rd (only girl) started kindergarten at age 4 because of where we lived. She is not in advanced classes but is a whole year younger than everyone in her grade. Of those three, she is the only one who brought home the sticker for my car that says : “my kid is an honors kid at blah blah middle school” I always swore I would not ever put one on my car but …how could I not? SHE IS A BEAUTIFUL GIRL, IS NICE TO EVERYONE, DOES EVERY EXTRA CURRICULAR UNDER THE SUN AND HELPS WITH THE DISHES. When there are other parents with it in their window…how do you tell your daughter…it’s not for me? I put it on and wear it with pride. I would be remiss not to add a little diddy about my baby who’s 8. He has the bragging rights of his mom in all he does. His gift is desire to achieve and do better. Even though he took a while to grasp a love for school, he is a hard worker and masters things very quickly, he is wise beyond his years and a witty little man. He has more rhythm than the rest of the kids, which leads me to the parents who “Claim” that they never compare their children to each other…IMPOSSIBLE! my gift is NOT the ability to get my point across with 25 words or less.

  58. I came across your blog recently and have enjoyed reading all that you have to offer! You’re funny and inspiring.Interestingly enough, I just touched on the same subject on my blog. My daughter is 20 months old and incredible also! I brag about her daily on my blog because I write for her. What better way for her to connect to her childhood and know how much she was loved, than to read about it as an adult? Ultimately, it’s her story and my gift to her.The bottom line is that if you aren’t your child’s biggest fan, who should be? And when you think about vocalizing your child’s “superior accomplishments,” I guess you have to be mindful about what type of feedback you’ll get in return. Unless it’s a doting grandparent, you may be less than satisfied with your listeners reply.

  59. What a fantastic post! You’ve hit it out of the ballpark on this one even giving it a title. Well done. I say brag and boast away. We have to take what we get because when they become teens, we may run out of material 🙂PS: For those moms who think their child is the next Einstein, the research shows that almost all kids “catch up” by the time they are in kindergarten 🙂

  60. Linked from Mir’s post… I agree with at least one pp (didn’t have time just now to read them all) that the most important thing is to tell your *kids* that you’re proud of them. I talk about Jet’s accomplishments, and to heck with what everyone else thinks. I do try to be sensitive to the body language of the people I’m talking to, and try to quit when they get bored. 🙂 I also make it a point to let people talk about their own kids without coming back with my own story of Jet. I always feel like that starts the one-up debate.

  61. As you often do, you’ve hit on something here! Fun to read the posts and see how many great, smart kids are out there – I hope to have them all in my classroom one day!My girl is 10.5 months. Today we were at a coffeeshop, she was playing with the toys, and another little girl (who I think expected to have the toys to herself) told her mom, “I don’t like that baby!” My girl responded by smiling and holding out a toy to the girl. A sweet moment.

  62. I agree with you wholeheartedly. The little angel is sort of shockingly verbal, and I find myself, after parents of less-verbal (but great! really great!) kids comment on her correct use of the word “actually” at not-even-three, responding sheepishly, “she’s really verbal.” Like I would say, “she eats grass.” Why? Because I don’t want anyone to think I’m bragging.But you know what? The little angel is really f*cking smart.

  63. I totally just had a brag-a-thon over at my place the other day. KayTar is developmentally delayed, but we’ve seen this explosion of things just recently.I’m really proud of her because she amazines her therapists at almost every session. Sure, she is behind in many ways, but in others she is extremely advanced…correcting the therapists when they water things down to 2 year old level. She might correct them in sign language…but she corrects them all the same. I’m amazed by something new every day.

  64. Oh, I love this blog entry! I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to sound like you’re the freaky stage mom or something. But you asked, so I’ll brag away:My 4 year old son is developing a sense of humor and he makes me laugh all the time. He can count to ten in three languages and knows more spanish than I do. (This, admittedly, is not very hard given that my command of the spanish language includes the names of food off of the Taco Bueno menu and asking where the bathroom is.)My 2 year old daughter, who walked at 9 months old, can count to ten. When I asked her to get three wipes, she pulled out three and promptly closed the lid. I was amazed by this. She can also dress herself (and undress herself if I dare to assist her in any way).I think all kids are amazing human beings, no matter whether they’re walking early or taking their time, whether they are signing or screaming, they’re all just little miracles. We should all brag about that. You see my miracle walking around? Yep, sure do, and I see yours, too. Isn’t it, gasp, amazing?

  65. Seeing as how I’ve been claiming that L.A. Toddler is a Super Genius (since before she was even BORN, mind you!) I really have no problem singing her praises. However, now that I think about it. Her being so damn smart is just proof-positive that she’s not really my child. And most people realize that about 5 seconds after talking to me…

  66. My daughter Elizabeth – my first – just started walking, and she’s only 9 months old! I’m incredibly proud of her, but you’re right — though I’ve boasted her accomplishments to non-parents, when I speak to another parent I tend to downplay it or not mention it at all.Thanks for blogging about this – it sure would be nice if we could all just be happy for each other and stop competing!

  67. Okay, ask me twice.Ask me one more time.🙂The 8 month old is amazingly cute. He practices while he’s asleep. He can empty a breast in 10 seconds flat.The 5yo has an amazing ear for music. She can wiggle her hips like Shakira. She reads at a 2nd-3rd grade level. She tells great jokes. She is the best at getting my husband’s goat. She has a sense of style that’s to die for. She writes me thank-you notes for doing her hair, for reading to her, for the good hugs I give….she is our joy. The 8yo hit the ceiling on a recent WISC-IV test. She writes far better than either my husband or I did at age 8. Possibly better than we wrote at age 13. We are both afraid of her. But she never, ever, ever pulls a smarty-pants attitude with other kids. Never, ever. She can’t understand why the other girls in her class are so interested in hair and clothes and why some of the girls are bullying other girls about hair or clothes. She is a complete McGyver when it comes to three-dimensional art. She is focused and works hard.Enough? Uncle? Lol.That said, my kids are just normal, wonderful kids. I work in the kids section at a local bookstore, and I love handing out compliments and opening the doors wide open to mom’s bragging-on about their kids. Even better is when mom lovingly brags so that the child can hear. I know that this can risk creating a monster. But honestly, most kids I know seem to need to hear the good stuff.Here. You’ll like this. A study on how to praise kids, what to say, what to say less. Why telling a child “you work so hard” might be a better choice in some situations than “you’re so smart/strong/fast/talented”, etc.

  68. Hi Liz,Just stopping by to let you know I answered you, via mothergoosemouse – because I read her post, before yours – but, it’s sort of long (of course) so, bottom line is:I just admitted (for the first time in four years of blogging, I think) that my two oldest are in G&T.Because I was afraid to admit how happy I am that my kids are on their way to being way smarter than me!I’m sorry, but it’s like I can’t even be proud of my kids, without having to feel guilty or think that I’ll be pissing somebody off – especially those people I don’t even know.I guess it all comes from teaching my children that being aware of other people’s feelings is what we humans do best.Blech.There, I said it – now…um…did I mention that I think my kids are pretty…uh…except the boy…of course…and how I take secret delight in his insisting that he’s never, ever getting married…ever!

  69. I read that article too and I totally agree with it. Why? Because people told me from a very young age how smart/bright/intelligent/etc. I was. It really did make me want to not do things that didn’t come easy to me, like playing an instrument, drawing, or cooking (just to name a few). Now, I’m in love with Interior Design but I’m so afraid to seriously pursue it because I feel like I won’t be good enough on account of my “lack of natural talent.” But I still build household stuff and some of it has even turned out pretty good.ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO WORK HARD! Encourage them to do things that DON’T come easily to them. When they start improving (even if only a little), it’ll increase their confidence in their abilities and themselves tremendously. They’ll start working hard on the things they ARE good at and go amazing places with them. Telling them that they’re smart is okay too. But, trust me, you don’t want a kid like I was when I felt like I couldn’t do ANYTHING after I figured out there will always be someone smarter than I am (and they’ll come to that realization too one day). So remember that there are more important qualities than just being smart and PRAISE THEM!

  70. <>Mom-101’s Mom:<> My daughter wrote a beautiful blog post and got 74 comments.<>Other Bloggers’ Moms:<> [jealous glares]

  71. Lol, lumpyheadsmom! I agree. Beautiful blog post. I just realized I blabbed about my kids and didn’t tell Mom how wonderful her post was.BTW, like mother, like daughter. We expect nothing but greatness from her.

  72. This has actually been on my mind a lot recently…my son is entering fourth grade next year and that is when the gifted and talented program starts in our district. The powers that be told us that when we got our results informing us if our children qualified for the program we were NOT to tell our children if they were GATE bound or not (I *think* they’ll figure it out next year when they start school, but I could be wrong as I wasn’t in a GATE program myself). Don’t talk to other parents about your child’s score. Don’t feel proud of your child if they get into GATE, and don’t tell your child that they are smart, they are just different.And I agree, I think that our society is heading in a direction that doesn’t applaud achievement, of any sort. My friend teaches in a district where they have eliminated the honor roll, valedictorians, MVP’s, Prom King and Queenn…anything that might acknowledge any one person.

  73. I am somewhat hesitant to brag about the kids UNTIL I am in the presence of a compeitmom. Then…oh, then my competitive oh-no-you-didn’t vibe kicks in and I have no problems sharing tales on my child. Not to outdo them, but to show that, Yes, your child IS smart, but he has peers that are probably in the same group.Of course, most times when I say something that my brilliant daughter says, I usually follow it up with something like a photo of her picking her nose with her toes. I mean, BALANCE! It is all about the BALANCE! 😉

  74. When I was doing addition flash cards with my 9 year old daughter, my 4 year old son watched us, and then starting blurting out the answers, and getting them right!! It soon became clear that he could outright add in his head [even in the 10’s] We all were pretty amazed at this skill. It’s hard [and I feel embarrassed] to relate this story without feeling braggey.

  75. This is a tough one. I’m always reluctant to say anything “good” about my kids (unless they said something that’s really funny — like objectively funny, not like, I’m their mother and I haven’t left the house in a week, isn’t my angel funny funny). But then I don’t want to be the mother who always says “bad” things about them either. Especially now that they’re old enough to know what I’m saying.I know a lot of people with little boys who are three and four years old who don’t talk much or talk well. When they tell the story I can hear the worry in their voices. And then they look to me to affirm that boys just don’t talk as soon as girls. And both of my boys were really excellent talkers at really early ages. I always downplay that by pointing out that neither of them walked until they were 16 months old (the lazy…) or pointing out that everyone develops at his/her own pace and they’ll all be talking more than you’ll want by the time they’re seven, etcetera.It’s a dilemma for sure. So here’s something I’m proud of. I sang with and read to my kids in spanish from birth, but then I’ve been kind of a slacker the past few years. J’s former preschool also did spanish. Occasionally out of the blue I’ll ask him (he’s 5) something in spanish or someone else will or I’ll read a sign or something, knowing that I haven’t really gone over it with him (at least not in the last few years) and he’ll either know what I’m saying or he’ll be able to figure it out fairly easily. My little one — well, let’s just say he doesn’t seem to have an “ear” for foreign languages! But at only three he will take any story (like the three little pigs) and make up his own (very elaborate) story about each page. It is so delightful to listen to.

  76. Daughter #1, just turned 4. Tonight whilst driving home she boasted she knew what tree’s are made of… wood; so I asked her what our dining table was made of to which she replied wood… and then I asked where the table maker got the wood from, she replied Bunnings (Huge hardware chain in Australia) she spends too much time with her dad!

  77. I’ve actually been thinking about this post for a couple of days — processing it and turning it over in my mind.I think maybe because I’m a shades-of-gray person and not much of an optimist, I tend to present my kids’ accomplishments in a balanced way (“Mimi’s an advanced talker and reader, but not athletic” “Rosie is behind in speaking, but she’s adept physically.”) Sort of strengths and weaknesses all at once. Not sure if this is to tone down any “competimommyness” or not. I do also think, as other commenters said, I’m fascinated when I observe them and see ways in which they are alike and different from me, their dad, and each other. And when they learn new skills it’s amazing to me. So sharing information in that capacity is almost like expressing wonder at a lovely sunset — full of admiration and awe at something I don’t necessarily have control over. 😉This post did also remind me that I’m long overdue for a post about Rosie and what we’ve been going through as she learns to talk (speech therapy, etc.) It’s been consuming us for a couple of months now and I haven’t talked about it on blog. (and then there’s my emotional realization that Mimi will be starting kindergarten this fall…)

  78. You’re absolutely right! Pregnancy hormones give you clarity, I guess, eh? 😉 Maybe we do that as parents because we do it ourselves? Like, a friend says, “Oh, I love your skin!” and you say, “Yeah, but you should have seen me when I was a teenager with acne!”

  79. I think you’re spot on with this post. I know I’ve struggled with post ing or talking about certain things realted to my boys because I just don’t want to come across as a show off, but why not celebrate these milestones as much as we’d talk about the chaos and mundane? Thanks for writing this, Liz. It insprired me and many of the members of Maya’s Mom too, who are writing journal posts to brag about their kids today…< HREF="" REL="nofollow">Here’s the link<>

  80. GREAT TOPIC! I try to keep in mind that different kids develop at different rates. While my Madge (2 and a half) is extremely verbal, and can name obscure animals by sight (like Okapi, Kudu, Minke whale, spectacled bear), and a hundren others) and loves to help me cook by adding “one cup of milk”, she also refuses to use the potty. She also looks older than she is (she’s very big for her age) and pitches EPIC FITS in the grocery store that get looks from other kids and parents. Because they think she should act as old as she looks. New research shows that it’s not necessarily good to tell your kids they are smart. An Article in New York Magazine (found here): talks about research that tells us it’s much more important to praise our kids for effort than for innate intelligence. So tell other people how smart your kids are, but don’t tell your kids how smart they are!It’s a VERY interesting Article.I wrote a post about it < HREF="" REL="nofollow">here<>

  81. I think the core of the dilemma that you have addressed is our own insecurities as adults. Does so-and-so think I am being obnoxious by bragging on my daughter (whether she be particularly intelligent or not)? I think that we should be considerate of the feelings of others, but not so to the point that we second guess our feelings towards our children. By holding back compliments, you subliminally send messages to other people, yourself, and your children regarding how pleased you are with your child’s accomplishments. My child is 5 years old. He reads on a sixth grade level. He has a heart of gold. I will shout it from the rooftops and make sure he hears (although he knows better than to BOAST or BRAG on himself, etc). Anyone who has a problem with it is obviously not my friend and I need not associate with them. Why should I want to expose my child to a parent who feels that their children should be in competition with mine? It’s ludicrous. Anyway…sorry for burning your ear off. Hope I didn’t offend anyone. I just find it amazing that parents will change their parenting style because of what others might think.

  82. The reason people brag about their kids is because they are actually bragging about themselves, or rather their genes. Like most things, it’s all pretty self-centered.And I think that people with new kids are always just impressed when they start doing human things like say words or walk or express emotions. They’re people people! They were bound to start some time!

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