Each preschooler has a unique personality. Some are shyer children, and perhaps they enjoy more time spent looking at books or coloring pictures. Others are the social leaders who organize games and otherwise chat up fellow classmates. Then, of course, there are the bossy ones, who enjoy telling others what to do – and it can be somewhat uncomfortable if you find out that your child falls into that category. What should you do?
Here are two tips from Preschoolers.About.com:
Tip # 1: First, be patient.
The reality is that your child is probably copying behavior that he or she sees each day. Even though you may not feel as though you’re being bossy, think about what you do from your child’s perspective: you tell people what to do. Instead of panicking at your child’s bossiness, take a deep breath, realize that this isn’t unusual behavior and recognize that you may be seeing the first buds of leadership skills that need properly channeled.
Tip # 2: Model good behavior.
Don’t say “Put your dishes in the sink right now.” Say “Please take your dishes to the sink as soon as you’re done with breakfast” and then say “thank you” when that happens. When you catch your child engaging in bossiness, find a private opportunity to share more appropriate behaviors.
Meanwhile, Parenting.com suggests the following:
Tip # 3: Turn some power over to your child.
The best way to do this is to offer choices with limits. “Today,” you could ask him or her in the morning, “do you want to wear your red sweater or your blue one?” or “Would you prefer orange juice or apple juice with your breakfast?” That way, he or she will probably feel less of a need to control other aspects of the day where options aren’t necessarily negotiable.
Tip # 4: Give in sometimes.
Although you can’t allow your child to dictate that you’ll have ice cream for dinner, it’s okay to switch from carrots to peas, or from macaroni and cheese to spaghetti, if that’s your child’s preference and it’s doable for you.
And, although you are tough enough to outlast your child’s bossy stage, it’s important that you protect other young ones who could be negatively affected by overly assertive behavior. For example, Super Nanny has these tips:
Tip # 5: Supervise your child with his or her friends.
You’ll want to make sure that the bossy line isn’t being crossed. It can be helpful to work out a signal in advance to let your child know that his or her behavior is turning bossy. Super Nanny suggests a shoulder tap, but you can choose other appropriate options.
Tip # 6: Make sure your other children, if applicable, aren’t always deferring to your more assertive one.
If you have a more passive child, it will be easy for him or her to allow the bossier sibling to make more decisions than is appropriate. Make sure the shyer children are encouraged to do things themselves to learn and that your bossier child learns when to gracefully allow someone else to take the lead.
Helping your bossy child learn more appropriate behaviors probably won’t happen overnight. But, with persistence, you can model and teach healthy communication styles that will serve your child well, both now and in the future.
And, be sure to share your concerns about bossiness, plus the ways that you deal with that at home, with your preschooler’s teachers and caregivers. Communication is key!