How to Deal With Know-It-Alls

Tips for Taming the Know-It-Alls In Your Life

Few issues bring out the know-it-alls quicker than parenting choices. Even complete strangers in grocery store checkout lanes make themselves available to critique your skills. To make life even more interesting, most children also go through a know-it-all phase. Your darling may enjoy educating you on everything from driving a car to baking a cake. It can be difficult to manage your frustration with all these “experts” in your life, but there are effective ways to deal with a know-it-all. You can start by conquering your insecurities.

Believe In Your Mom Skills

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It’s reasonable to have moments of doubt about your parenting skills, especially when you’re a new mom. And you can expect those doubts to resurface whenever your child hits another phase of development. There’s certainly nothing wrong with seeking encouragement from another trustworthy adult when your kid moves from child to tween to teen seemingly overnight. But it’s important that you remember who’s in charge.

Grandmas, friends, and even well-meaning strangers at the mall may have more parenting experience than you, but you’re the expert when it comes to your child—even if you’re brand new to the job. You’ve read the books. You’ve talked to the pediatrician. You’re up-to-date on all the newest safety tips, nutritional information and sleep guidelines. When the time is right, you’ll be able to take the training wheels off and let your child fly.

This parenting project is yours and you’ve got the skills you need to complete it. Remembering how capable you are can help you respond calmly and maybe even positively to a know-it-all.

Decline the Offer

It's hard to remain patient when you’re hit with a barrage of “friendly advice” every time you visit a public space with your child. Know-it-alls frequent parks, school functions and even doctors’ waiting rooms. Most believe they’re helping when they share their words of wisdom regarding your child’s behavior, napping schedule or snack food choice.

Thankfully, you can safely ignore these experts since they’re strangers who don’t really matter in your day-to-day. You can choose to ignore them completely or smile politely before moving on. If you’re feeling generous, you might even respond with a cheerful “Hey, thanks for the tip but we've got that figured out. Have a good day.”

It takes a little more effort when the know-it-all is part of your neighborhood social group or an aunt who shows up for every holiday event. Some of these parent experts may be coworkers or friends you actually enjoy spending time with otherwise. Your own mom may slip into know-it-all mode sometimes.

When the know-it-all is someone you can’t avoid, be firm about your role as the expert. You can try redirecting the conversation from kids to flowers or vegetables or meatloaf. A completely irrelevant response may get your message across.

If that’s not enough, respond by assuring the know-it-all that you’ve talked with the pediatrician about the issue and you’re going to trust her expertise. Or maybe share a few of the new guidelines about crib style, food choices or discipline strategies you’ve studied.

When it’s your mom or a close friend who’s the know-it-all, invite her over for lunch and share your feelings about what a wonderful grandma or asset she is to your family. Let her know how much you appreciate her wisdom but tell her how it erodes your self-confidence when she moves into expert mode. Depending on your relationship, you can even remind her that you’re the mom but you'd love the freedom to ask for her advice sometimes.

Consider the Source

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When your kid becomes your know-it-all mentor, determine if she’s just expressing all her newfound knowledge as a first-grader or acting out of her own insecurities. Kids sometimes start to believe they have to be right all of the time to be acceptable.

If you spend most of your time praising your child’s superior intelligence, you may be creating a know-it-all for life. When she brings home that A+ math paper, try emphasizing all the effort she put into getting those 20 problems correct as well as the grade at the top. Remind her that the process of learning matters as much as knowing the answers.

Stay firm in your position as “boss” but let your 8-year-old share his idea for remembering daily chores or speeding up dinner prep. If it’s a great idea, try it. If his idea is not great, create a teachable moment by showing him why it won’t work for your family. This can help him understand that you're interested in his knowledge, but it’s okay not to know everything.

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