Hi all! As promised here is my blog post on how I am attempting to combat my little Miss Bossy Boots and enforcing rules around the house.
The great news is, if you are reading this because you are having the same problem, research suggests that bossy children are actually very creative and bright children. So all is not lost. Children can be bossy for several reasons, it could be that they have a dominant personality, they could be resembling an adult (although adults know the limits!) or they could be seeking attention. Either way it can become an issue as they develop and are faced with social environments as they will find their bossy behaviour is not accepted among other children.
Bossy children also like to 'bend' the rules or attempt to negotiate rules and consequences. They can attempt to manipulate situations to result in a better outcome for them or even use tantrums to avoid not getting their own way. Now obviously everyone's situation is different and I'd like to point out that my Miss Bossy Boots is 7 years old and whilst not everything I have said applies to her, she certainly needed intervention.
Who is Boss?
Your child needs to recognize who is the adult and who is the child. Your child should know who is in charge in the family (in our case it's Mum and Dad) and there is no alternative (i.e. Child A thinks they can be in charge of Child B because they are older). You may think this is an obvious point, but it may be worth pointing out to your children when you set ground rules who is in charge of making the rules and enforcing them. Whilst over-controlling is not necessary (children still need free/imaginative play), it is still important to be firm, straight-forward and consistent when enforcing rules.
Setting the Rules
Bossy children love to think they enforce the 'rules' or that they can just create their own. Wrong! It is time for you to set out the rules. With smaller children it will be through clear communication and reminders. For me, I used signs around the house. Now it is up to you how many rules you make and how you want to enforce them, but can I suggest to not go too overboard as too many rules can make it too difficult for the child to comprehend the boundaries.
We placed one set of main rules (Big Rules) in our main living area which are to be used in our whole house.
I then printed and laminated rule cards to place in different rooms of the house to remind my child of rules for that area. By laminating them I am able to write on them with whiteboard markers and erase and change the rules as needed. This allows us as parents to be adaptable to their age and limits.
Choices and the word 'Yes'!
When children are given responsibility or told to do something they simply don't want to, their answer is no - followed by excuses, tantrums or just general rebellion. We want to avoid this! Provide the child choices where you can. They can still have the responsibility but get to make choices within them. For example, let them pick out their own clothes to wear for the day. Let them choose between a range of healthy snacks if they are hungry. Or in our case, let them choose which chore they are going to do today.
To implement this element of choice we created 7 chores for the 7 days of the week. Our child knows it is required to complete one chore a day, but they get to choose which chore it will be. Once that chore is done it is ticked off (whiteboard marker!) so all chores are rotated through the week.
Now the other element is saying 'YES!'. We are always telling them no, but what about sometimes saying yes so they can feel rewarded? Can I please play outside? Can I please use the paints? Can I please play with lego? Kids are messy, they are a lot of hard work, but that doesn't mean we have to reduce the mess and work they create for us by saying no all the time. Imagine the fun they will have and the childhood memories you will create if you said yes a little more often? (Obviously enforce rules during activities though!)
Children crave attention! If your child feels like they are never getting quality one on one time with you, they will create diversions to gain your attention and these can end up being through bad behaviour. Particularly if they have siblings, these can gain up on you very quickly. If they have younger siblings, allow them to go to bed 20 minutes after the younger ones and read a story with them. Play a game with them once in a while. Let them present to you something they have created and emphasize how proud you are. Just a little bit of time a day can show them how important they are and quash attention seeking behaviours!
So there we have it! This is how I am combating my bossy boots, I hope this helps to combat yours! xx