Arrogance vs confidence: teaching your child the difference

Have you considered teaching your child the difference between arrogance and confidence? Did you even know that there is a difference? If yes, do you consider it important to do so?

As parents, we can often be so driven to build our children's self-esteems so that they won’t be hurt or trampled on by this ‘harsh world’ we live in. In reality, without careful consideration of what you’re teaching them about confidence (or what you think confidence means), it could potentially make their lives very difficult in future and lead to them ending up lonely and arrogant.

Kids are often led to think that confidence is the other kid in class who's always talking loudly and freely to everyone, and not holding their breath to make their point to a teacher or coach if they’re unhappy about something. Or maybe that confidence means being the kid who always wins the race or comes first in class. This is far from the truth.

Don’t be misled by thinking that the line between confidence and arrogance is blurry. They are worlds apart but many children and adults alike struggle to know the difference.

What’s the difference?

The Oxford Dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling of reliance or certainty,” while arrogance is described as “being aggressively assertive or presumptuous”.

Internationally recognised behavioural scientist and author, Christie Hartman puts it like this: “Don't confuse confidence with arrogance. Arrogance is being full of yourself, feeling you're always right, and believing your accomplishments or abilities make you better than other people. People often believe arrogance is excessive confidence, but it's really a lack of confidence. Arrogant people are insecure, and often repel others. Truly confident people feel good about themselves and attract others to them.”

A lack of confidence often leads to arrogance because it leads a person to diminish the qualities and abilities of others in order to make themselves look better or smarter.

It’s easy to get confused between the two, even though they have inherently different qualities.

Here is a simple comparison to help you instil the right concept of confidence in your child’s (and your own) life:


• Talks over people

• Always needs to prove they’re right

• Only feels smart when someone else feels stupid

• Covers up mistakes or blames others for it

• Doubts their value

• Requires advertisement and boasting

• Uses ability to look down on others


• Listens to people in order to learn and share opinions

• Accepts that they’re not always right

• Knows their experience, talents, and value

• Sees the best in others

• Doesn't need to boast because confidence speaks for itself

• Sincerely uses talents to be of use to others

• Might seek external validation but don’t depend on it to define their potential

The most valuable thing you can teach your child, and do so by living it out in your own life, is that there will always be someone who’s more experienced, more advanced, or more talented than them, but that it in no way diminishes their own experience, talents, or value.

A good tip is to try and raise kids that you’d one day want to hang out with - and we all know that’s not someone like arrogant Alan at the office...

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