How Do You Deal With Bossy Kids?

9 years ago

Although I was quite bossy as a child, my daughter doesn't seem to be. She will complain and sometimes cry when one of her friends won't let her have her way, but she usually goes along with the crowd, rolls with the punches, or just walks away. I often hold my tongue to avoid inserting myself where I probably don't need to be inserted.

I've struggled with the difference between my daughter being a good hostess and letting her friends choose every activity. As a parent, I tire of settling arguments between a bossy kid and my offended spawn (who usually will come to me instead of standing up for herself). I am bossy myself, so I find it difficult to understand why she doesn't just say no.

Vanessa Van Patten of Radical Parenting has these tips (which I'm paraphrasing to avoid lifting her entire post, which you should read):

1. Call them on it.
2. Bring in another alpha.
3. Take a break.
4. Democracy rules.

But what if (gulp) your kid is the bossy kid? Jenne at Life Beside the Creek offers this insightful suggestion:

Seems like a bossy child is really a leader in disguise...one who likes to be in control of situations. And a bossy kid needs to learn and understand that ultimately their peers makes their own choices - right or wrong. They will choose to do the right thing, or do the wrong thing. To follow the leader or make their own way.

Statmama of Static Vox, whose daughter has autism and possibly Asberger's, has found a way to channel her bossiness into leadership by following scripts. Which, you know, could be helpful for many adults who suffer from nothing but bossiness.

However, I do not want to enable controlling behavior. What appears to outsiders to be a positive attribute (leadership skills) is actually a need for control and a struggle with rigidity. The difference between Reese and The Bossy Kid No One Likes (i.e. me as a child) is that (a) Reese has loads of self-esteem, and (b) she smiles all the time and knows how has scripts for being a good friend. Thus, bossy and domineering appears enthusiastic and helpful. What a difference the delivery makes! For it appears that a smile may be a fabulous cloaking device for Asperger's!

Why are people bossy? Is it well-developed self-esteem? A lack of empathy for others? Simple impulse-control problems? Normal childhood development?

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