Is your toddler bossing you? Or other kids around them, either siblings or kids on play dates or in a day care center? This type of behaviour can be quiet annoying and although adults might find it cute, if it’s recurring frequently, it loses part of its cuteness. And other kids might start to avoid playing with your toddler.
We have teamed up to try to offer some ideas how to turn a little boss to a loving and caring tot.
We teach my toddler to be assertive when he is feeling bossed around. To use his words rather than get physical. If communication fails, he has the option to walk away or find an adult to seek help. When he’s the one being bossy, our response depends on the situation. If he is bossing an adult around, we talk about the need to be respectful before talking about how it’s important to think about how others feel, which is what we emphasize when a kid is being bossed around. “How would you like it if….” or “what might be a nicer way to ASK that?” We’ll also bring up the Berenstain Bears book where Sister is bossy and doesn’t want to take turns — Mama Bear tells her “there’s one thing you can do better by yourself — be lonely.”
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I think that a lot can be done with this kind of behaviour by providing your child with more appropriate words to use. For example, if you hear them say to a friend, “Give me that toy!” – you can immediately jump in and model saying, “Can I have that toy please?” and try to have them repeat it. Or if they say something like, “Get out of my way!”, you can model saying, “Excuse me please” right away so they start to learn the socially appropriate ways to get what they want and to express themselves. There are some other great “phrases” you can teach your toddlers to help them get along with other kids a little easier and I wrote about them in F is for Friendly.
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I find that one of my twins is always pushing and hitting the other. I remove her from the situation so that she learns that it’s not acceptable behaviour. I encourage gentle behaviour at other times such as games when she has to give me a kiss and a ‘gentle stroke’ (rather than a slap in the face!) It takes time to sink in but I think we’re making progress.
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Bossiness is something that when it is first exhibited may look cute, but the best way to keep it from being a problem is to consistently and gently teach the child that it will not get them what they want. I wrote a post about how to teach a toddler to not be bossy.
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With my kids and nephews, I’ve learnt that, toddlers don’t play with each other till they are almost two. Till then, they do play side by side. When they are being bossy, they are wanting some ‘power’ and control of the situation. I’ve found that it works really well if you treat them with respect and acknowledge their authority. It is their world and their play… who are we to argue! When there are other children involved, it is better to give them ‘host’ status. .Let us give this puzzle to Johnny to play with while we play with this truck.’ Mostly, we keep the extra special toys away if we know she will not share them.Shared by Ayesha, mother to 3 (7 and 3 years, 8 months), author at Words’n’Needles.
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Some toddlers have a bossy personality. Parents should not try to thwart what may be their future leadership skills, but they should guide them towards being respectful of others. Intervention is definitely necessary if they get aggressive.
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I try to model the behavior that I want them to exhibit, so that they have good example of how to ask nicely for things, share, and say please and thank you. I also try to let them work things out for themselves as much as possible, unless they are being physical or aggressive. When they do get aggressive, I remove them from the situation, let them cool down, and then help them apologize to their friend (or sibling).
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