Got a 'bossy' child? Try these 5 'supportive not judgemental' phrases today (and #3 will be a gamechanger)

A child psychologist wants parents to avoid labelling their kids as 'bossy' and instead offer 'support' to curb the behaviour

Child talking to her dad
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A child psychologist has revealed how parents of 'bossy' children can stop their controlling behaviour with 5 'supportive not judgemental' phrases. 

We all want to raise resilient children who are unafraid to speak their minds and take on any and every challenge that life throws at them. But some children are so confident that it can veer into what we've labelled as 'bossiness.' 

But using this label, or any negative label to describe a child's behaviour, can really impact the way a child sees themselves as they grow up, according to child psychologist Jaimie Bloch

"As parents, it can be very hard to watch our children’s behaviour that we may label as different or wrong," she said on Instagram. "For example, when children appear to be more assertive in social situations or want things to go their way. This can set off our own parental anxiety about our children being mean or bossy, worrying they may upset other kids or other parents who could judge them. 

"Unfortunately, this pressure and anxiety can lead us to label our children."

But labelling a child 'affects the way that they see themselves, and it also affects what is expected of them and their behavioural responses,' Bloch says. "This means that labels can limit our children’s potential."

What she wants parents to do instead of using the word 'bossy' is to find 'supportive' and 'non-judgemental' phrases that will curb the bossy behaviour without throwing a label onto the child.

  • 1. "I love your honestly, but let's find a way to make your words kinder."
  • 2. "I hear you giving lots of directions. Ask (child name/sibling name) what she thinks about the game."
  • 3. "I see that you only want to play with the ideas in your head. It is important to include your friend's/sibling's ideas also."
  • 4. "It's okay to choose what you draw, and I'll choose what I want to draw."
  • 5. I can see you really want (friend/sibling) to do (activity). But you only need to be in charge of yourself."

It's not just the label of bossy that Bloch wants parents to avoid. She recommends avoiding any behavioural label at all. Sharing her own experience of this, she took to Instagram to share, "I have caught myself using the label of shy. As a psychologist, I know the research on labelling children. But still, it is something that every so often slips out of my mouth. 

"I do not want my daughter to absorb the label I have given her behaviour, I do not want her to think of herself as shy. I know this will limit her, and affect how she sees herself and how she approaches social situations and school."

She added, "I know that this label will also have the opposite effect on her confidence and readiness to explore, as it will make her feel insecure and unsafe. I want her to see herself as thoughtful and decisive. Every time she is choosing to warm up slowly it is done with purpose. She is assessing, noticing, wandering and finding her right moment to be ready to join, not my right moment."

In other family news, why do boys go for trucks and girls prefer dolls? Child development and play expert explains all (it might surprise you). Plus, the Green Party’s ‘harmful’ proposed birth policy deserves the backlash it’s getting, according to an expert. And, grandparents find today’s kids more ‘rude’ than ever before - an expert shares why they’ve got this wrong (do you agree?)

News writer

Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse is a news writer for Goodtoknow, specialising in family content. She began her freelance journalism career after graduating from Nottingham Trent University with an MA in Magazine Journalism, receiving an NCTJ diploma, and earning a First Class BA (Hons) in Journalism at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute. She has also worked with BBC Good Food and The Independent.