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What to Do About an Overbearing Child

by Lillian Wade, studioD

Most people are annoyed when children talk out of turn or interrupt them when they are speaking. Finding ways to teach them to share is incumbent upon parents so children will learn to respect others and not be domineering. The use of games or other techniques that teach the concept of sharing will work in their favor. Others will like them, and they may develop better self-esteem and confidence. Teaching social skills helps them develop friendships with others and will be a most precious gift from you as they grow older.

Inquire about Behavior

Teachers, or others who see your child in a group setting, may be able to give you some insight into how well your child gets along with others. While they may not offer information without prompting, they will likely be happy to share their observations with you if you ask. Their expertise in what is normal and typical at your child’s age may help to put the behavior in perspective. When you cannot help your child, rely on professionals to help find positive strategies that will teach pro-social skills, such as sharing, helping and cooperating.

Personally Observe Behavior

To be sure you are not over-reacting, watch your child as he interacts with other children. It may be that what you consider overbearing is typical for that age. Observe whether other children are annoyed with your child or whether they are playing well together. Notice whether he is bossy, self-centered or disruptive. Monitor him in different social outlets, such as scouting or church groups, which give him more practice developing social skills. Because friendship is such an important aspect of child development, it is essential that you support him in this area for long-term benefits.

Teach Social Skills

If you notice that your child is bossy, disrespects another’s personal space, does not share his possessions or monopolizes conversations with others, it may be time for an intervention. Insist that he not be the center of attention at home, and do not allow him to interrupt others. Perhaps during dinner or a drive to the mall, you can give him a specific period of time to talk. Then, either you or the other children take a turn. Don't allow him to talk while someone else is talking. Do this every day until he learns that conversation involves both talking and listening.

Model Good Behavior

For children to develop positive social skills and be likeable, parents should refrain from controlling them to the point that it affects their self-esteem and confidence. The importance of parental involvement cannot be over-stressed. It is vital that you allow children to develop the kind of independence that will enhance their ability to get along with others. Without diminishing your duty to parent according to your value system, you may want to check yourself first if your child is showing signs of being too controlling. It may have consequences beyond childhood, as researcher, Holly Schiffrin, from the University of Mary Washington found when she surveyed 300 university students. She concluded that children who had domineering parents were more likely to have problems relating to others.

About the Author

In 1968 Lillian Wade began teaching English with writing as an essential component, overseeing class newspaper projects each year. Wade holds a Bachelor of Science in business education with a minor in English from the University of Arkansas and a Master of Science in career education from California State University.

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