top of page

"Bossy-pants" behavior

Wow, have we been dealing with some bossy behavior over winter break. My daughter (7) has always been more of the opinionated, leader- amongst-her-friends, type of girl. At home with us (her stepdad and I), and from what I hear from my ex-husband, at home with him too, she has zero problem letting us know that she wants to be in charge. I am okay with this, and actually feel comfortable that she feels comfortable enough to march to the beat of her drum, even when the suggestions are wildly unpopular (e.g. “let’s play 25 games at dinner time”). 

I’ve always been proud to raise a strong-willed girl. “She’s gonna do great in the world” I would proudly announce whenever she pushed boundaries. See the thing is, now she’s at an age where her friendships are really developing, and have become really important to her. She wants playdates and sleepovers.


Well, on her last sleepover, with her best friend, she had like 3 meltdowns. And guess what the trigger was in every single one of them!? That she couldn’t be the boss of the entire situation at hand. Meaning, she wanted to choose how long they played, what they ate, the order of the games, how long bath time would be, etc. It seems like in their dynamic, she calls most of the shots while her friend just goes along with it all but, when I would be around them (like for movie time or setting up the board game with them, her friend seemed to align with me more than with her, and this would throw her into immediate emotional escalation. She would storm off, I would give her a few minutes and then go help her regulate those feelings, and she would come back all happy and ready to play with her friend again. The part that I noticed, after the sleepover ended, was that the friend never addressed any of this, even when Liv would come back. She did ask my husband at one point if Liv was mad at her. Her friend will choose to please Liv over having to deal with the fact that Liv is mad at her. This works perfectly for Leader Liv now doesn’t it?

Then I came to the realization that many of her friendship dynamics are the same.  And that through dynamics like these, she will not learn naturally that people will stop wanting to play with her if she doesn’t leave room for others to choose and be in charge at times. I am waiting for that one friend that doesn’t tolerate the “bossy” behavior as well. In the meantime, I’ve realized that I’ve got my work cut out for me–through stories, tv shows, books, and real life situations, we are going to need to work on perspective-taking (the ability to see the perspective of another).

I will attempt to do this work without prophetic threats– “no one's gonna wanna play with you and you will never have friends!” I will also try to model this behavior more especially in my day to day decision-making (“I wonder what you and David would enjoy for dinner tonight between X and Y ?”). Lastly, I will work on helping her cope with letting go of control and learning to be more flexible in our plans through small moments of practice in her daily life.

Here is a list of books I have on my website that can help show kids different perspectives.


Stay in touch!


As a child therapist and parenting coach,

I’m here to help you see the world through your child’s lens so you can parent to their needs.


2 views0 comments


bottom of page