Of course, a child doesn’t have to be over-controlling to become a true leader. Leadership skills can apply to any child who’d like to learn them.
The ‘Bossy’ Debate:
Some say the word ‘bossy’ is often used to describe girls and women leaders and that’s why females shy away from leadership roles. So to be politically correct, we should ban the word ‘bossy.’
But what if some boys and girls really are bossy? Rather than ban another word, why not help our bossy kids become likable leaders?
A Bossy Story
As a child counselor, I remember listening to a shy girl who had a bossy girlfriend. When they were quite young, the reserved child accepted orders from her friend. But as they grew older the quiet one became annoyed at being told what to play and what to do. She began to avoid her friend. The mother of the domineering girl wondered what happened to their daughters’ friendship. A long story made short, the bossy child’s self-esteem plummeted because she didn’t know the ‘soft skills’ for making friends and how to become a true leader.
If you have a child dictator, you CAN help turn him or her into a likable leader. First, let’s find out some behaviors any bossy kid might possess. Then you can determine if some of them fit your child.
7 Bossy Behaviors That Get Children Rejected
1. Controls conversations
2. Won’t listen or compromise
3. Pushes hard to get their way
4. Brags about themselves a lot
5. Tells kids what they should do
6. Orders kids to play their games
7. Acts like poor sports when they don’t get what they want
Of course, your child needn’t have all these behaviors to be considered overbearing. A few is enough for you to decide to come to the rescue.
Let’s face it, young children have little knowledge or experience about getting along with others. They make lots of mistakes. Some get their feelings hurt and start to learn how to make friends. Others grow up to be bossy adults. If women get in leadership roles, they might be called the hated “B” word. Men supervisors are often called jerks or bullies. As the parent, there are many ways to save your child from such a fate.
First, master the art of positive chats with your child. You may already know that friendly conversations include asking questions and lots of listening. For instance, you might ask, “Why doesn’t Billy want to play with you anymore?” As the conversation progresses, you might add, “I’ve noticed that you often decide what to play. Would you like it if Billy told you what to do? What could you do instead?”
In future chats check back with your child to see how the relationship is going. Then promote each leadership skill with one friendly discussion at a time. You decide which ones might help the most:
7 Leadership Skills Children Can Learn
1. Listen actively – Prove it by repeating part of your friend’s statement.
2. Cooperate with others – Pitch in and help. Play their games too.
3. Resolve conflict and negotiate – Ask your friend, “How can we both win?”
4. Show empathy and caring – Say, “I’m sorry that happened to you. How can I help?”
5. Be a brainstorm leader – Ask, “What fun things would you like to do?” Give your ideas too.
6. Help friends grow – See their good points and give them compliments.
7. Be kind – Avoid cruel talk and gross behavior.
You can teach these skills with loving conversations, role-playing activities, and charting your child’s new leadership skills.
Consider discussing, drawing, posting, and/or memorizing all or parts of the following poem:
Poem to Help Bossy Children
Make Caring Count!
I told the kids just what to do,
They yelled at me; their anger grew.
“You’re not the boss. You cannot lead!
You’ve got your nerve!” they all decreed.
I did not know what I should do,
I sat alone and cried, “Boo-ooh.”
My bossy ways just gave me heck.
My heart is broke. I’ve no respect.
It’s time I change, that I knew,
I didn’t know what I should do.
“Care for others,” a birdie said.
“Learn the wants inside each head.”
“Tell me what YOU WANT to play,”
I asked the kids and heard them say,
“Glad you asked. That’s good to do.
You’re caring counts. We’ll play with you.”
Don’t tell the kids what to play,
Ask instead. You’ll win that way.
Like all the kids. They’ll like you too.
Make caring count like leaders do.
Summary for 7 Leadership Skills Your Bossy Child Needs to Learn
It’s a mistake to think bossy children are natural-born leaders. Many get rejected and have no followers. Use the checklist in this article to see if your child has any of the 7 behaviors to avoid. If he does, develop the art of friendly chats and have discussions about the 7 points on list. Get his input. Listen well.
Next, discuss and role-play the leadership skills that your child can easily learn. Create a chart for one new behavior at a time. Rewards using stars can help. Then chat about each success. Stars, chats, and friendships are his rewards for improving his behavior and leaving his bossy ways behind.
Finally, encourage your child to draw the scenes in the poem. Then memorize all or parts of it. If you do, you’ll be training your child to think before he speaks and become a likable leader too.