We love our kids, good or bad. But only a parent can look at a kid and really see all the amazing qualities they possess. Qualities you wish everyone could see and often find yourself pointing out to others. And all the while we are talking up their great attributes, we are also secretly ashamed of their bad behaviors.
How to change your kid’s bossy behavior
More then once I have heard my daughter be described as ‘bossy’. Am I surprised by that? Not at all. But am I hurt by that? Abso-freaking-lutely.
I have seen my daughter’s bossy side for as long as I can remember. Since she learned to talk, that girl has had an assertive personality that no one could change. And over time, I’ve learned that I don’t want to. But her bossy personality has caused conflict with friends and even family members. And even though I see future leadership skills in her tiny little body, most other kids just see a bossy little girl.
What others see as bossy, rude, or argumentative… I now see as assertive, strong-willed, and confident.
Related Post: Parenting a Strong-Willed Child
There’s nothing wrong with a kid having a strong opinion. But there is a fine line between being strong and opinionated and being rude to those around them. At the tender age of 9, my daughter has all the qualities that can lead her to greatness. But she has to learn how to be a good leader, not just a bossy one.
She’s at the age where she’s started inviting kids over to play. Many times, I’ll just sit back and listen to the way she talks to her friends. Most of the time it makes me cringe as I hear her boss them around and tell them what to do. What’s even worse is how angry she can get when they don’t do exactly what she wants.
I worry that she will lose friends. I also worry that she will grow into a rude and bossy adult and have problems with co-workers and relationships. Some days it takes everything in me not to interfere and tell her “stop being so bossy!”. But I also know that it’s up to her to navigate the relationships she forms with other kids. Because she will need to do the same thing in her adult years.
The first part of changing your kid’s bossy ways is to understand WHY they are bossy in the first place.
Most likely your bossy kid is strong-willed. And as we know, strong-willed children have an opinion and they want you to listen to it. It’s no different when it comes to their friends. In their minds, they are helping other kids to do the right thing by telling them what to do. They truly do not understand why others get upset when they are just trying to do the right thing.
So how do you deal with a bossy kid?
Rule #1 for parenting a bossy kid… let them be bossy! I know, I know. That’s not at all what you wanted to hear. It’s tough sitting back and watching our kids be little shits. But there are some things in life they need to learn by trial and error.
This happens to be one of those times they have to figure things out for themselves. My daughter will have to learn how to work with others or she will risk losing her friends. I can’t tell her to stop being bossy, but I can teach her how to be nicer about her assertiveness.
You might also be interested in: Effective Ways to Teach an Angry Kid to Calm Down.
Never call a bossy kid “bossy”. Best to just forget that word exists. Calling a kid bossy and telling them no one will be friends with them will kill their confidence. Try using the word ‘assertive’ instead. Teach them that being assertive and strong-willed can be great attributes… but only if communicated in the right way.
Listen to your assertive child. As mentioned in parenting a strong-willed child, these kids need to be heard. Talk to your child about why they were being overly assertive. Hear them out. It’s often not to cause trouble, but because they want the other kids to follow the rules too. If you listen to them, you can help them learn how to communicate their emotions in a more constructive (and polite) way.
Help them understand empathy. Chances are your bossy kid has no idea what they are doing is wrong. Encourage them to think about the other kids and how their words can come across. And ask them what they think will happen if they continue to talk that way to their friends.
Set an example. As a parent, we get to be the boss! Isn’t that what we always thought? But strong-willed kids have a grown-up way of thinking. So if they see you bossing anyone around (your partner or your other kids) then they will want to mimic your behavior. If you want them to find a nicer way to talk, then you have to as well.
Role Play. If your bossy kid still isn’t understanding what they are doing is wrong, try role-playing. You be the bossy kid and have your child be their friend. See if you can try some conflict resolution to certain behaviors you’ve seen in the past. Help them learn how to state their opinion, but in a kinder way.
Talk to them about being a good leader. There is a huge difference between being in control and being a good leader. Try to do this without directing your example towards them. You may think your school-age child is too young to discuss leadership skills, but strong-willed kids often think about things far beyond their years. So teach them that being a good leader also means listening to others and expressing yourself in a polite way.
Use positive sayings daily with your child. Whether they are brushing teeth, eating breakfast, or getting dressed… teach kids kindness by reminding them to be kind. Before my daughter goes to school, I try to give her one piece of positive affirmation to take with her each day:
- Be kind today
- Be a good friend today
- Share something today
- Play with someone new today
Always always always use positive reinforcement when you see them not being bossy! Positive parenting works wonders for the strong-willed child. Give them praise every time you see them share or listen to someone else’s opinion. I’m telling you, they feed off of positive parenting! So praise more and discipline less, and you will see a change in that bossy behavior.
Most of all… learn how to be OK with having a bossy kid
People who don’t know your kid may label them as bossy. And with all the mom-shaming going on lately it’s no wonder why parents want to quickly change that behavior. But the last thing you want to do is squash that great assertive personality that will lead them to greatness one day. So you have to always remember… do what’s best for YOUR child. Not what’s best for those other judgy parents out there.
Looking for more ways to bond with your kids? Try out my helpful tips on Easy Ways to Bond with Your Child.