7 Ways to Deal with a Bossy Child

Bossy Child
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It’s common for kids to go through developmental stages that cause them to behave a bit bossy. A preschooler is likely to begin asserting his new found independence by saying things like, “I want to do it!” And older kids often take great pleasure in watching others follow their directions when they say things like, “No, you go over there!”

The way you respond to a bossy attitude will determine whether it’s a passing phase or a lasting problem.

Here are nine discipline techniques that can curb a bossy attitude fast:

1. Consider the Underlying Cause

Examine why your child is being bossy. Is he trying to communicate that he needs more opportunities to for independence, like a chance to try getting dressed on his own? Or is he trying to gain control over his siblings? Take a look at who your child bosses around and when it’s happening so you can create a plan to intervene most effectively.

2. Teach Skills that May be Lacking

Children sometimes become bossy because they lack appropriate skills. A child who bosses his friends around may not know how to speak up for himself without being rude. A child who bosses his siblings around may lack empathy for how they feel when they’re being told what to do. Teach your child socially appropriate ways to be assertive and emphasize the importance of treating others with kindness.

3. Point Out Bossy Behavior

Make your child aware of his bossy behavior by pointing it out.

If he says, “Get me a drink,” respond by saying, “I’m not going to respond to you when you’re being bossy.” If you catch him bossing around a friend, intervene and say, “Telling your friends what they have to do is being bossy.” Pointing out unacceptable behavior, teaches your child to recognize inappropriate behavior.

4. Avoid Power Struggles

When your child says things like, “You can’t make me!” avoid getting into an argument about it. Use an if…then statement such as, “If you don’t put on your shoes then you won’t be able to watch any TV today.” Then, follow through with a consequence if necessary but avoid getting into a power struggle over who has the most control.

5. Offer Choices

Whenever possible, offer limited choices. Ask questions such as, “Do you want to put on your pajamas before or after you brush your teeth?” Giving your child an opportunity to make small decisions can go a long way to satisfying his need for some control. Grandma’s rule of discipline can also be an effective way to remind him that he has control over when he earns extra privileges.

6. Praise Cooperative and Kind Behavior

Give your child plenty of positive attention for treating others with kindness. Praise prosocial behavior such as using manners, sharing, and cooperating with others. Giving him plenty of recognition for good behavior can curb his desire to misbehave as a means to get attention.

7. Make Sure that Rude Behavior Isn’t Rewarded

If your child’s bossy behavior is effective, it will reinforce it. Make sure that others aren’t giving into his demands. Monitor play dates, supervise his interactions with his siblings, and refuse to do what he says when he’s being disrespectful. Tell him that until he can behave kindly, other people aren’t going to respond to his requests.

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