>Bossy Children

>Dear Dr. Hackney,

How does one curb in a child who always is trying to boss around other children and is telling them what to do, how to do it, when to do it and so on?

Thank You!
Blog Reader, February 2008

Dear Reader,

You might try to give her more productive ways to be a leader, such as putting her in charge of clean-up or letting her decide who sits where at the dinner table. Other times during the day, you can say, “Thank you, but this is not your job. Your job today was seat-assigner. You were really helpful at that.”

You also might try to implement Stanley Greenspan’s Floortime which is a specific type of parent-child play that is to be practiced 20 minutes per day. Floortime gives children a chance to be the leaders in play. When playing this game, it may give her leadership voice an outlet that you can live with better.

In other moments of bossiness, you might model the language you would prefer she use. This means if she tells another child, “Chrissy, you need to move over here and play with this doll!” You might say, “Well, let’s ask Chrissy. Chrissy, do you want to sit here and play with this doll?” Then turn to your child and suggest, “That would be a nice way to ask Chrissy.” As you are going to review this often over time, it is best to go at it in a light way not heavy, meaning this is not a time for consequences. If you intervene often when she is being bossy and redirect her to asking from telling, hopefully, she will pick up on the preferred approach.

You might also have a related discussion later in the day to reinforce the new language. As you tuck her in bed, you might say, “Today, when Chrissy was here to play, did you hear mommy ask her if she wanted to move and play with another doll? I think Chrissy likes being asked to move rather than being told to move. What do you think?”

Rene Hackney, PhD.
Parenting Playgroups, Inc.

Author: Dr. Rene Hackney

With a MA in school psychology and a PhD in developmental psychology, I founded and work as a parent educator at Parenting Playgroups. Somewhere in there I trained in the Developmental Clinic at Children's NMC and in the public schools. I have two beautiful, funny children who make me practice what I preach most everyday.

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