March 21, 2013

Your Child’s Behavior is a Foreign Language: Become a Behavior Detective and Translate It! (Topic: Bossy)

By Ava Parnass, Child Therapist

This week’s topic: Bossy

[Read the previous post: Become a Behavior Detective]

Below is a mock discussion with a child, assuming they could find the right words and responses when feeling bossed around and hovered over during play time, etc.



1. Child: “It’s disappointing when I can’t do things my way.”

Parent response: “Disappointing is a hard feeling.”

2. Child: “It hurts my feeling when you always tell me what to do, so I copy you!”

Parent response: “I am sorry that hurts your feelings!”

3. Child: “I can’t handle the constant commands – it makes me feel nervous.”

Parent response: “I am sorry. That’s hard for you to listen to grown-ups all day.”

More reading: May the force be without you

4. Child: “Maybe I can have some turns my way. Maybe as I get older I can have more choices, too?”

Parent response: “Sounds like a good plan – nice thinking.”

5. Child: “I copy you when I’m playing with other kids. That’s what kids do, so I become bossy, too. Please help me learn another way.”

Parent response: “We can learn together and practice cooperation.”

More reading: Stress buster ideas for kids

6. Child: “I don’t like to be bossed around all the time. It makes me feel bad inside and then I act  up.”

Parent response: “That’s a hard feeling to have and you understand that and will help me.”

7. Child: “When you boss me around it feels like you never listen to me and I am a bad person. Am I?”

Parent response: “It’s not your fault and I will try to be less bossy.”

More reading: Word games that boost emotional intelligence

8. Child: “When you boss me around all day, and so does the teacher, it is too much for a kid and it can make me hyperactive.”

Parent response: “Let’s try using the feeling town map and talk about the feelings you are having.”

9. Child: “If we take turns and you also help me sort out my feelings, I can learn to cooperate more easily.”

Parent response: “Excellent plan.”

More reading: Pure free-play moment

10. Child: “Then I can get a special treat – some time alone with you, because I did things fast and we have more time to spend together!”

Parent response: “Time alone with you is so much fun. What do YOU want to play?”

More reading: Helping kids make friends

A new parenting book is coming soon: Time-In not Time-Out:




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