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  • 4 Ways To Teach Your 'Bossy' Child To Be Polite Without Losing Their Assertiveness

    Having a child who is strong-willed is good, but they can also become rude and disrespectful.
    by Kitty Elicay .
4 Ways To Teach Your 'Bossy' Child To Be Polite Without Losing Their Assertiveness
  • As kids become older, they also learn how to be more assertive. While that’s a valuable trait to learn, children also need to learn how to compromise — which can be difficult for kids who have a natural tendency to assume a “leadership role,” a.k.a. a 'bossy' child who loves telling others what to do.

    Those children come off as bossy especially if you hear phrases like, “Get me milk!”, “I don’t want that!”, or “These are mine, and those are yours.” While it’s great for a child to be strong-willed and opinionated, they can easily become rude and disrespectful, especially if parents always let them have what they want.

    But labeling a child “bossy,” sends a negative message. According to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, it can tell a child, especially girls, “Don’t raise your hand or speak up.” Giving these kinds of behavior a negative connotation makes children think that it is ‘bad’ and ‘wrong,’ which wears down their self-esteem and dampens their confidence.

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    4 positive parenting phrases to say to a 'bossy' child

    So, how do parents strike a balance? It’s wonderful that children can ask for what they want, but they also need a little help turning those demands and commands into polite requests. Try these phrases the next time your child becomes a little bossy:

    1. When you hear her say: “Draw this,” Reply with, “You choose what you draw, and I’ll choose what I draw.”

    “If your child starts to dictate how you’re playing together, they may need a reminder of which part of the game or activity is in their control,” says Motherly. This is crucial because she’s learning how to play and interact, and teaching them how to be less bossy can help them socialize better and get along with children their age in the future.

    2. Tell her, “It’s not fun for me when you tell me what to do.”

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    Do you get annoyed when your child repeatedly tells you what to do while playing? Imagine how other kids would feel. When this happens, let your child know gently that you’re not having fun.

    Children might sense that you’re getting frustrated, but they will not be able to pinpoint why. Explain that you have a lot more fun playing together when they’re not telling you what to do. Give examples, like, “How would you feel if I tell you that you can only play with this doll and not the other toys? Would you have fun?”

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    3. “What’s a different way you could ask for that?”

    Kids likely do not intend to be rude when they say, “I want milk!” but you can always remind them to ask politely. Having good manners takes practice, and Robin Thompson, the founder of the Robin Thompson Charm School in the U.S., tells Parents, “It’s important to start early as you can so manners become something a child does automatically, whether she is at home or away.”


    The best way to teach kids how to be polite is to model good behavior, but reminding them to think about how they can make a request instead of a demand also helps.

    4. “She can choose what she likes.”

    If you notice that your child is ordering someone else around, say a friend or sibling, remind them that they each get to make their own choice and that both of them have a say on what they want to happen during playtime. You can also address the other child directly and let them know it’s all right for them to speak up, too.

    As a parent, you want your children to have opinions so that they can express themselves well as adults. But you also want them to grow up with good manners so they don’t hurt other people with their words. Remember: working with a child is much easier than working against them, so try to encourage your child positively.


    How do you raise kids who are not rude or disrespectful? Click here for some helpful tips.

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