When your child tells you to go get them a snack now you’ll probably be tempted to laugh. You might watch fondly as they show their little brother or sister the ‘right’ way to do things, thinking what a great teacher they are. It is natural for children to be developing their personalities and most children go through a phase where they bark out demands like a drill sergeant. Often it’s a reflection of their growing self-esteem and an indication of self-confidence.
However, it is useful to remember who is in control in your household as there is a danger your child could quickly become the one calling all the shots.
Who is in control?
If you let your child get their own way all the time you’re in danger of developing a teenager that is used to getting their own way and you are no longer in control of their behaviour. Don’t do what they say just for a quiet life – remind them to make their requests in an appropriate manner. You may also decide to make this one of your
Defuse power struggles by offering your child as many choices as you can, that way they’ll feel as though they’ve had a say in the matter and you still get your desired
Teach your child how to ask nicely for what they want. Demanding things can be a hard habit to break, so practise phrases your child can use to ask for things politely. Role model through play if your child particularly struggles with this. Good communication skills are an asset as your child grows up.
Pay less attention to bossy behaviour. Children love playing to an audience, so don’t encourage the behaviour by laughing. Even negative attention is still attention, so don’t spend lots of 1:1 time with your child when addressing the behaviour, simply ignore the bossy demand and remind your child how to make their request. Only respond to the desired behaviour.
Bossiness could affect your child’s friendships. Children may struggle with a friend who keeps telling them what they can and can’t do, which may also develop into bullying. Supervise play if you feel this may be an issue and take your child to one side if you feel they are becoming bossy with others. You may also consider limiting competitive games if your child’s bossiness is a real issue. Set some rules for play and role model communication skills with your child.
It may also be useful to monitor your child’s bossiness with younger siblings as they may become more passive due to the other child taking over. Remind your child that their siblings need to do things for themselves in order to learn. Assertiveness can be an asset as your child grows up. Helping children to develop communication skills and see all points of view can support your child to develop their bossiness into future leadership skills.
Community Family Care helps families and young people in need of additional support. It seeks to improve parents’ confidence, help with routines to get children to school, or more complex support dealing with challenging behaviours at home. The work its staff carry out includes peer mentoring and life coaches for young people, and family support programmes.
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