Encourage healthy play between siblings.

Conflict Resolution Techniques to Use With Bossy Kids

by Barbie Carpenter

You overhear your preschooler directing your infant's playtime. You watch as your son dominates playdates with his friends, controlling who plays with what. You catch your daughter ordering her friends around as they play dress up. While a little assertiveness will help your child as he matures, a bossy personality can make friendships and even family relationships difficult. Your kids might think you're the bossy one, but instead, they might be the ones being overly assertive. Resolve conflicts with your strong-willed child using techniques targeted for this type of personality.

1. Encourage Empathy

Your bossy child instinctively orders her siblings and friends -- and maybe even you -- around. However, she probably doesn't consider the effect her behavior has on others. Teach her empathy by explaining how the less dominant child feels when she bosses him around. Ask her how she would feel if she always had to play what her friend wanted to play. Ask her how difficult it would be if her friend never shared his toys. Preschoolers will be able to express their feelings, and understanding how their behavior impacts their friends can help to resolve conflict.

2. Create a Democracy

With a bossy child, you might feel like your entire house is under the rule of a tiny dictator. By overthrowing the dictatorship and establishing a democracy, you can instantly resolve many familial conflicts. When it's family movie night, give each family member a vote for the movie. When it's playtime, let the kids vote on what game to play. This change takes the power away from your bossy child and gives everyone in the house an equal say. With a democracy, you can resolve -- or even prevent -- conflicts before they develop.

3. Give Examples

Conflicts arise as bossy children continue to establish their dominance in relationships. Eventually, the submissive child will fight back, leading to a major conflict. Point out instances of bossiness as soon as you hear them. Pull your child aside and explain the problem. Kindly ask him to change his behavior. By addressing small conflicts as they pop up, you can remedy the bossy child's behavior before a brawl occurs.

4. Establish Consequences

Resolving conflicts with a bossy child is often challenging. These strong-willed children might fight back, and you might even fall under the dominant spell of your bossy little one. Thus, resolving conflicts requires clear consequences for bossy children. Relate the consequences specifically to the bossy behavior. For example, you can tell your daughter that if she does not share with her friends, she will have to go to time out. Relating negative consequences to bossy behavior can help you resolve conflict caused by your assertive little one.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.

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