Handling Toddlers: What You Should Know & Things You Can Do

Small children are naturally very self-centered. They have not acquired the sense of self-awareness that the majority of grownups usually possess, and this can end up manifesting itself in tantrums, selfish conduct, and bossiness.

It is not unusual for even the most well-behaved three-year-old to display bossy behavior, leaving some parents perplexed and frustrated.

Bossiness in a small child can also be caused by the feeling of authority that it can give them in a world where grownups have all the control. It is a way in which they can snatch a small amount of that power back. They are not trying to make a conscious decision to exert their authority over others, so please do not blame them. On the up-side, there are a couple of things that you can do which may be able to reign your child’s bossiness in a bit.


Kids have a very “monkey see, monkey do” approach to life, so one thing you can do to change their behavior is to modify yours first. This might mean cutting your own bossiness back a bit. So if you are always shouting at your kids to get them to do something, or if they see you ordering other people around, rather than asking them to do things in a more calm and gracious manner then they will pick up on this and copy it.

Even when it is in YOUR nature to be this way, try to recognize the fact and when your kids are around try reworking your behavior lest your toddlers see a more smooth side of you.

Social Skills

Teaching children to be kind from a very early age is a social skill that will stay with them and deliver benefits throughout their lifetime. If they begin to be selfish, or bossy to people ask them how they would feel if someone did the same to them. Getting them to take into account how their conduct affects others can be a key landmark in their growth.

Give Control

Bossiness is a type of control, so if you child perceives that they don’t have it, they will try and take it. But what if you granted them some control? Try offering your tot alternatives. Ask them whether they would like to play with this toy or that toy, or whether they want to have chicken or fish for dinner.

Make certain you don’t leave your questions open ended, though. Guarantee you restrict the likely outcomes to just two. This or that. This gives them a sense of control, and they will think that they have had a say in how their day went and THIS will result in not so much of a desire to take control from others in the form of bossy behavior in the future.


Examine how much time and attention your child is receiving from you because their bad habits could just be an appeal for more (or just any for that matter!). Take a real honest look at whether or not you are spending enough time playing and conversing with them before you yell at them for yanking at your arm to play in the back garden when all you would like to do is stand to sip beer with your friends.