Are you losing a battle of wills with a pint-sized, emotionally unstable dictator?
I’ve been there, and it can make you feel pretty useless, right?
The good news is that you can put some work in now to resolve it! In this post, I am going to give you 9 tips for how you can deal with a toddler who is bossy, and assertive.
Table of Contents
- Dealing With a Bossy, Assertive Toddler
- Work Together – Mom and Dad
- Change Your Behavior
- Give Praise For Positive Behavior
- Set Expectations
- Always Follow Through
- Correct Bossy Behavior Every Time
- Give Your Toddler Some Choices
- Why Is My Toddler Being Bossy All Of A Sudden?
- Toddler Is Copying You
- Toddler Is Copying Friends
Dealing With a Bossy, Assertive Toddler
Work Together – Mom and Dad
The most important thing is that you attack the problem like a team.
Before you even approach your toddler with some corrective behavior techniques, you need to get together as a team (Mom or Dad, or whoever is caring for the toddler).
Establish what is good and what is not good behavior. It is an awesome idea to approach this meeting with some recent examples of both good and bad behavior.
I don’t want to turn this into a business meeting, but there are some benefits to holding a structured meet up.
Once you have established what is not good behavior from your toddler, it is time to agree to some corrective behavior. Include punishment in here too, because if it gets that far, you both need to be on the same page, right?
Change Your Behavior
A change in your behavior will have a huge impact on your toddler’s development.
Let’s take, for example, your behavior when your toddler demands something without asking nicely. Did you provide? Or did you stop and explain how they need to ask in order for you to comply?
How about the way that you interact with your toddler? Are YOU a dictator to them?
Listen to yourself speak as you interact with them. Do you ask correctly? Are you polite?
Toddlers are learning how to interact with others by listening to you. The way your toddler responds to anger is learned behavior.
The bottom line is, if you are bossy then they will also be bossy.
Give Praise For Positive Behavior
I am a huge fan of rewarding positive behavior.
Rewarding good behavior is not simply buying them a new toy (far too expensive), it is praise and extra affection too.
You cannot underestimate the power of a rewards chart! It is simple, and best of all it is free (assuming you already have a piece of paper to write it on!)
Not only is it free, but you can also work with your toddler to put the reward chart together!
It is a perfect opportunity to ask YOUR toddler what he or she believes is good behavior. This task alone will increase your toddler’s knowledge of how to behave in the correct way.
Giving your toddler your expectations will set boundaries and will set a baseline for behavior.
I mentioned above that it is a great idea to put together a reward chart with your toddler to reward good behavior. I would also use this opportunity to set expectations.
Discuss what bad behavior is, give them real-life examples where they have not behaved well.
Now tell them you expect their behavior to improve.
Setting expectations is not simply how you expect them to behave, you should also set the expectations for what will happen when they are behaving badly too.
My son snaps out of bad behavior as soon as I threaten him with the removal of a toy! I am under no illusion that this will work forever, but it works now and that is the most important thing, right?
Always Follow Through
This is extremely important! I cannot emphasize it enough.
Above I mentioned that I threaten to remove a toy from my son’s collection if he does not improve his behavior. The ONLY reason why that works is that he pushed me to act during the early stages of my action plan.
What did I do? I removed a toy. Did it work? Not immediately.
I followed up with a threat to throw the toy away if he carried on. Did it work? Not immediately.
What did I do next?
I threw the toy away.
For the next few hours, my son was absolutely distraught that he had genuinely lost one of his toys. The fact that I followed through with a punishment means he KNOWS I am serious when I say I will take a toy away.
This ties in with rewarding good behavior but takes it a little bit further.
If you have followed the ‘Give Praise For Good Behavior‘ tip above, then you will have already created a rewards chart – good job!
Now as a next step, you could implement a points-based system. for instance, 2 points for a day where they have been polite, a further 2 for going to bed on time, 2 more for brushing their teeth without a meltdown. -2 points if good behavior is not seen.
You could incentivize good behavior by suggesting a trip to the toy shop on Saturday if a certain amount of points are achieved.
Correct Bossy Behavior Every Time
Very important – do not let your toddler get away with ANY bossy episodes.
Every single time your toddler is bossy, correct their behavior.
Correct the bossy attitude by reminding them about the rewards chart.
Give Your Toddler Some Choices
Toddlers may be going through a bossy stage because it is an important part of their development.
It is during this stage where they want more independence, but you still need to be the ones making the rules.
There is some middle ground though…
Simply give your toddler options. Each option should be something that you are happy with.
This is a classic technique where it looks like you are giving someone an option, but all options are yours and therefore they are going to do what you need anyway.
Why Is My Toddler Being Bossy All Of A Sudden?
If your toddler has suddenly begun being bossy or strong-willed then there may be a reason for it.
The word ‘phase’ is feared throughout parent land. It basically means ‘just ride it out’.
During toddler years, they will be swapping communication techniques until they find a way that suits them. Your toddler will also be learning from you!
It is part of a toddlers development and nothing to fear.
Just ride it out!
My son is bossy when he is tired, it is difficult to change that. As long as I do not let him get away with it, he will stop eventually.
If he wakes early in the morning, I know that he is going to be bossy at around 18:00 that day. The last hour can escalate to a battle of wills!
Check with your toddler to see if they are being bullied. Being bullied is not a good experience at any age, but at a young age, it can result in some strange behavior. Being bossy is one of them.
Keep a close eye on your toddler and speak with their daycare staff to ensure nothing untoward is happening there.
Toddler Is Copying You
If you are bossy then your toddler will be bossy, period.
Time for you to change, before you both lose it with each other!
Toddler Is Copying Friends
During your toddler’s development, they will be learning life skills from those around them, including other kids.
If your toddler’s friends are bossy, then your toddler will copy them.
In this post, I gave 8 tips for how you can deal with your toddler being bossy, strong-willed, or too assertive. These are tips that I learned the hard way! I think they call it ‘on the job training’.
The important thing is that you understand exactly what is causing your toddler to be bossy, and set up a corrective action plan to address it.
If your toddler is regularly looked after by a family member, daycare, or a babysitter, then it is extremely important that you share your plan to ensure the message is clear from all adults who will be looking after them.
Good luck – you will need it!