How to Get Your Child to Stop Showing Off in Front of Guests

Don't let your child put on a performance for your guests who aren't interested.
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Most children love a captive audience. Whether they’re putting on a 20 minute tap dancing recital for Grandma, or they’re dragging out all their toys to show your friends, entertaining guests can be a lot of fun.

While performing for your company can be fun for everyone at times, it’s easy for kids to cross the line into becoming obnoxious. This is especially true when showing off even involves misbehaving.

Picking a fight with a sibling, throwing a colossal temper tantrum, or jumping on the furniture in an attempt to steal the show can be downright embarrassing for all the adults in the room.

Here are some strategies that can prevent your child from showing off in front of guests:

Establish Expectations Before Your Guests Arrive

While Grandma may be genuinely interested in hearing all the songs from the latest kindergarten concert, your neighbor may be far less intrigued by your child’s solo. Teach your child what types of behavior are appropriate when certain guests visit.

When guests come to visit you, make sure your child knows they’re not there to offer him their undivided attention. Say something like, “I’m going to visit with my friend today and during that time I want you to play with your toys.”

Keep your expectations age appropriate however. Don’t expect your toddler to be seen and not heard and don’t think your preschooler is going to follow those guidelines for hours on end.

But do use each guest visit as an opportunity to sharpen your child’s manners.

Identify Something that is Appropriate to Show Off

If you have family or a close friend visiting who may be interested in a show from your child, pick one thing your child can show off. Say something like, “Why don’t you go get your report card to show your uncle,” or “Pick your favorite song and sing it for Grandpa.” Let your child have the stage for a bit, but make sure you aren’t boring your guests to tears.

Help Your Child Find a Suitable Activity

Make sure your child has something to do. Tell her to color some pictures or build a castle with blocks. When she’s occupied, she’ll be less likely to seek attention from you and your guests.

Pay Attention to Good Behavior

Give your child attention for good behavior. When she’s playing quietly, point it out. Say, “I really like the way you are playing quietly over there while Auntie and I talk.” Positive reinforcement encourages good behavior to continue.

Ignore Mild Attention-Seeking Behavior

If your child exhibits mild attention-seeking behavior, like banging a toy loudly on the floor, ignore it. Don’t allow his attempts to interrupt your conversation be effective. Instead, look the other way and don’t say anything. Make it clear that good behavior is the best way to get your attention.

Provide One Warning

If your child’s behavior escalates from slightly annoying to moderately obnoxious, give a single warning. Say something like, “If you don’t stop climbing on the furniture, you won’t be allowed to go to the park later today.” Only give warnings when you’re prepared to follow through with a consequence.

Put Your Child in Time-Out

When misbehavior stems from your child’s attempts to gain attention, time-out can be an effective consequence. Remove your child from the situation for a few minutes and he’ll learn that acting out isn’t an effective way to gain a captive audience.

Just remember that time-out won’t be effective unless your child also gets plenty of time-in. Give your child regular doses of one-on-one time and he’ll be less likely to seek attention in an inappropriate manner.

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