Last month, I asked the parenting issue, why is my child so bossy?
Hopefully, you’ve been able to spend some time thinking about it and maybe putting your finger on a reason. Now, the question is, how can you help your child stop being so bossy?
In offering these suggestions, please remember that no behavior change happens without consistency and loving enforcement. You cannot address the bossiness one time and ignore it another. That’s the hard work of parenting. Sometimes you get tired and just let things go. It’s hard, I know; I raised 3 kids. But if you are serious about helping them, you must be consistent.
“Read the need and take the lead”
I love this first suggestion by Transformative Parenting. They explain that parenting should be proactive, not reactive, when possible. If we are always reacting, we are letting them take the lead. Proactive parenting means you understand your child and his needs before they ask.
For instance, if a young child is starting to drag their feet and you know theyʼre going to ask to be picked up, getting there first by warmly and enthusiastically saying, “Hey, I want to hold you!” can make a childʼs eyes light up and feel like, “Wow, I wanted to be picked up and I didnʼt even have to ask!” These children will more often feel satisfied and want to walk again on their own before the child that has to ask to be picked up. This sounds simple, but it is one of the most profound shifts many parents can make to help their child feel more secure.
Avoid encouraging the behavior
This may mean that you’ll have to stifle your laughter now and then when their bossiness is adorable. Instead, tell him to repeat his request in a polite manner.
Don’t take orders
If your child orders you to do something, ask him to repeat his request in a polite manner. He needs to know that he is nobody’s boss, especially not yours.
Watch your child play
If you are at a friend’s house, or if your child has friends over, it’s good to supervise the play now and then. Of course, younger children need more supervision, but it’s good to sit in on older kids now and then, or at least be within ear shot. If your child is sharing toys and is courteous, compliment his good behavior. If he is bossy, call him over and whisper in his ear. Don’t make an issue or embarrass him.
Ask him how he would feel if his friend was telling him what to do. Again, I think small children probably could’t care less if you said it out loud, but older kids might be embarrassed. If he doesn’t relent, warn him that the next time you will take him home–or send his friends home, or send him to his room for awhile–and then be ready to follow through.
Redirect his behavior
In order for your child to change his bossy behavior, he has to replace it with new behavior. Teach him how to express his strong will in a way that is seen as persistence, rather than bossiness.
Show him the right way to make requests
Many times I would find myself rephrasing requests to my kids. Instead of ”Go feed the dogs right now!” I would say, “Would you please go feed the dogs?” Modeling is the best way for them to unlearn bossiness. If your child starts to boss you around, inform him that you would rather he ask nicely. And this goes for kids of all ages. Politeness has no age limit.
Give your child power when you can
Bossiness in children sometimes mean a child is just trying to have some control or power in his little life, especially as he grows independent. Look for opportunities to give your child the power to make a decision or take control. Offering him choices in food, clothing, or whatever, can satisfy his need to be in charge.
Let them learn NO
Your child needs to learn that he can’t always get his way. He has to learn that people will say no to him, whether it’s an older brother who doesn’t want to play a game, or a friend who would rather go swimming than play video games. Explain to your child that he can certainly ask people to play a certain game or play video games, but they are allowed to say no.