A Little Humor Will Burst Teenager’s Inflated Ego


Is your teenager's ego bigger than his or her ability?

Q: Our daughter has average ability but a better than average view of herself. She's in high school and her self-esteem is getting in the way of her performance. She can't seem to accept that anything she does is wrong. If she has a problem with a homework assignment, the textbook is wrong, etc. Did we do something wrong?


A child "ends up" with whatever temperament he or she ends up with for reasons unknown. Let me assure you, you've committed your share of parenting mistakes, but it's very unlikely that you did anything to cause this problem.

Furthermore, there's probably not a whole lot you can do. She's right, the world is wrong, and that's that. This is her problem, her issue, and you need to accept that.

She's probably not going to realize that this is a problem for her until she discovers that blaming all of her shortcomings on someone or something else doesn't work in the Real World. She will probably have to experience a lot of pain before she achieves that mature state of self-awareness. Some people with this problem get a grip on it and triumph. Some wrap themselves in the cloak of victimhood and engage in the blame game forever.

The best thing you can do is develop a sense of humor about it. For example, the next time she says something along the lines of she can't open a can because the can opener is broken, say, "No, sweetheart, it's not just the can opener. The design of the kitchen is all wrong. The kitchen's in the wrong place in the house. How can you expect anything to work when the kitchen's in the wrong place?"

I'm not suggesting that you make fun of her. Rather, take the absurdity of what she says to the next level in a lighthearted way (and if you can't be lighthearted, then just ignore it). Have some fun with her foible, and try to help her share in the fun. Maybe, just maybe, she will begin to stop taking herself so seriously.

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