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How to Turn a Bossy Child Into a Leader

by Tiffany Raiford

When you know what you want and you believe you know the most effective manner of getting things done, it’s natural to want to delegate. Children are the same way; some kids simply know what they want, how to get it done and who to appoint to the job. You might call it bossy – the other kids probably do. While bossy kids are typically natural-born leaders, teaching your bossy little one not to cross the fine line between great leader and tyrant can be a challenge.

Make sure your bossy child knows that you are the real boss without being controlling; otherwise, you'll only teach her that bossiness is better, advises Katie Hurley, L.C.S.W., child, adolescent and family psychotherapist and parenting expert in California. For example, when your child asks you why she has to do something, do not respond, “Because I’m the boss and I make the rules.” Instead, explain your reasons: “You have to clean your room because if you leave it messy you might trip and become injured if you have to get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.”

Teach your bossy child that respect is a two-way street, advises Reader’s Digest. When your child knows how to model respect to everyone, it helps her develop her natural leadership skills. While bossiness might be something she has to learn to control, natural leadership skills are more easily acquired when a child is respectful of those around her.

Let your child make some of her own choices, advises Hurley. This allows your child to feel in control of her life, which might help her to ease up on her bossiness just a bit. For example, letting her choose her own school clothes or what’s for dinner tonight can help her assert her natural leadership skills without looking for ways to boss others around. If you feel that you have to have some control, try giving her a few choices and allowing her to choose from those. She feels in control and you manage to still get your own wishes granted.

Spend quality time with your child. According to Reader’s Digest, children whose parents spend quality time with them are more confident and better able to make leadership decisions. Children whose parents do not spend enough quality time with them tend to be bossy and crave control. The more confident your child is, the better leader he will make.

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