Dr. Larry Larsen
---- — Dear Doctor,
Our son will be entering the eighth grade shortly. He is a really good kid, but he has changed over the summer.
Beginning at the end of the seventh grade, puberty hit with a bang. Even if he is my kid, I don’t mind saying he is very good looking. The problem is that he knows he is.
Girls are calling him, and he is very impressed with himself. He is really walking like a macho man and acting like he is the most desirable male on earth. We don’t want to crush his self image, but we know he will be headed for some disappointments if he does not learn to be less self absorbed.
Do kids get over this and how can we help?
Dear Never Knew,
Yes, in answer to your last question, most youngsters do. Try to allow the social network to address the problem.
This is not an uncommon thing with boys that age who discover, for the first time, that there is such a thing as desire. That someone wants them, and especially for their male-ness and physical development, is a new thing for them.
Let me tell you a story: A few years ago a middle-school boy I was counseling had some problems in academic work. I went to his school for a meeting to see how they saw the problem. As I walked to the conference room I spied my young patient literally strutting down the hall. Two girls were escorting him to his next class. Even more impressive was the parting of the hall traffic, much like Moses doing his thing with the Red Sea!
What happened to him was exactly what will likely occur with your son. His peer group, including girls, deflated his abundant narcissism. He changed, became much more humble, and, as far as I know, is a successful adult. When ego becomes excessive vanity, kids usually have a cure.
Dr. Larry Larsen is an Andover psychologist. If you would like to ask a question, or respond to one, you can email Dr. Larry Larsen at lrryllrsn@CS.com.