Jun 17, 2013

    What to do if you have a bossy child

    There is a fine line between bossiness and leadership. A bossy child will always want her way and will throw tantrums and sulk to get it.

    If the bossiness is not addressed, the kid might grow up to have social problems, is defiant and could have issues with her parents.

    Clinical and educational psychologist Selina Ding told The Star/Asia News Network in a recent interview that bossiness is something that kids learn from adults in their environment.

    What traits does a bossy kid have?

    A child who is bossy will throw tantrums, insist on getting her way, whether it's right or wrong. This child won't listen to reason and might even not want to go to school because she has no friends.

    The child might be bossy with the parents, friends at school, or even the helper at home.

    When they grow up, bossy kids start to blame others for everything, instead of looking at themselves.

    Bossy kids also tend to be egoistic and can't take losing very well.

    Could bossiness be a sign of leadership?

    Bossiness should not be confused with leadership. A child who is good at instructing other kids may be seen as being bossy, but may actually be exhibiting leadership skills.

    A child with leadership skills accepts reasoning well and will not simply throw tantrums. And, naturally, people will follow and obey this child because she really knows how to lead the group.

    Being a leader and being bossy are different things. A child who is bossy will complain when things are not done her way, and she might try to get others to boycott the project if it's not done her way. But if you give her the responsibility of deciding how to do things, she might not be able to take it.

    Does bossiness stem from a need for attention or some insecurity?

    One reason could be self-esteem and a need for attention. Another reason could be that the child has been bullied or suppressed, so she learns to act this way to gain control. It's a way to help her cope.

    It could also be that the child comes from a family or home situation where many adults "share" in her upbringing. This results in the child frequently getting what she wants, if not from the parents, then from the aunts, uncles or grandparents.

    What can parents do?

    If parents notice a child is bossing others around and it hasn't gone to an advanced stage, they can step in and explain to the child and try to stop the bossiness. If they can't cope, they should consult a psychologist.

    If it's a self-esteem issue, then we will teach the child how to regain her self-confidence.

    People with low self-esteem cannot take criticism very well. They are very sensitive. Either they will sulk or pick on others. Once we start working on their self-esteem, they will know how to regulate their emotions. Once they know how to do this, they can regulate their behaviour.

    It would help to take a child for play dates when she is a toddler as this helps the child learn to share and play with other kids. Some guidance from parents is needed on how to play and share.