What This Is Like from a Parent’s Perspective

Sometimes it’s helpful when one child reminds another what the rules of the house are… but most of the time, instead of being helpful, when one child always tries to correct another…

…the other child gets upset, which causes more fighting

…they come across as always being “bossy”

…they get frustrated when YOU give them direction since they see themselves in a role of authority

You may have reminded your child time and time again that YOU are the parent, but they don’t stop making the corrections or acting like they’re in charge. 


What This Is Like from a Child’s Perspective

For children who tell others what to do, it’s actually not easy for them to stop being so bossy. Because they tell other children what to do when…

they feel anxious when rules are broken; when they see someone breaking the rules, being “bossy” is their way of coping.

they don’t know how to handle it when things don’t go the way they imagined in their mind, so they try to remedy the situation by being “bossy”

…even if they know they’re not supposed to act like a parent, their Yuck in that moment is stronger than their impulse control.

They’ve heard you tell them, over and over, that they are not the parent. But they don’t know how to stop themselves.


How It Usually Goes When

One Child Constantly Tries to Correct Another


Scenario: Danielle and her brother Troy are playing a game. After a few moments, Troy runs to his mother, sobbing and complaining that Danielle is bossing him around again. 

Mom (yelling): Danielle! Come in here!

Danielle (coming in slowly and defensively): What?

Mom: Danielle… I’ve told you over and over to stop bossing Troy around.

Danielle: I didn’t!

Troy: Yes you did! You kept telling me how I should play my character.

Danielle: Well the way you were doing it was WRONG!

Troy: No it wasn’t!

Mom: Danielle, even if it was wrong, you need to let Troy do what he wants to do.

Danielle: But he’s messing up the game!

Mom: Then change the way the game works, Danielle. You’re older, you can be more flexible.

Danielle: I hate being older! You’re always telling me to stop doing what I’m doing!

Mom: You need to learn that things aren’t always going to go your way, and you can’t just tell other people what to do…

Troy: Yeah.

Danielle starts screaming at Troy and her mother that everyone hates her and she’s tired of being in their family. 


How It Could Go (Better) When

One Child Constantly Tries to Correct Another


Scenario: Danielle and her brother Troy are playing a game. After a few moments, Troy runs to his mother, sobbing and complaining that Danielle is bossing him around again. 

Mom (knowing that Danielle can hear her): I’m sorry that happened, Troy. I want to hear from Danielle too, OK? (Calls out🙂 Danielle?

Danielle (walks in slowly): Yeah?

Mom: I understand that you two were playing and have a different point of view about things.

Danielle: His point of view is stupid!

Danielle’s mom does not like how Danielle acting. If she focuses on that, she will inevitably lose her cool. Instead, she focuses on controlling herself so that she can help resolve the situation rather than making it worse. 
She also knows she needs to be a model of how cope… even when things aren’t going your way.

Troy: HEY!

Mom: Danielle, Troy sees things differently than you do. I’m happy to hear what you think… and what he thinks matters too.

Danielle doesn’t say anything.

Mom: Danielle, do you want to tell me what happened?

Danielle doesn’t say anything.

Troy: I’ll tell you.

Mom: OK.

Troy: I wanted to do one thing with my guy, and she kept telling me to do something different…

Danielle: That’s because you were doing it the wrong way!

Mom: Danielle, what did you think was the “right way”?

Danielle: He was supposed to move like this. (She demonstrates.)

Troy: That’s not what I wanted to do!

Mom: Troy, you did what made sense to you. And Danielle, was it hard for you to see him do it that way?


Although Danielle’s mom wants Danielle to learn that she can’t boss everyone around, she knows that if Danielle doesn’t feel understood, she’ll go deeper into Yuck and she will not be able to see anyone else’s perspective. So she tries to see the situation from Danielle’s point of view. 

Danielle: YES! It’s not the right way!

Mom: You know what? When you have something in your mind and it doesn’t go that way, it can be incredibly frustrating.

Danielle (a little quieter): It’s not the RIGHT way.

Mom doesn’t say anything, giving Danielle time to calm down.

Mom: Troy, do you still want to play the game?

Troy: Only if she doesn’t tell me what to do.

Mom: Danielle, do you think you can play it even if he wants to play it differently?

Danielle: Only if he does it my way…

Mom: Of course you want him to play your way. If you two are going to keep playing, both of you need to feel respected. If he does it your way, would you be willing to do it his way ALSO?


As much as see respects Danielle’s perspective, Danielle’s mom also needs to set a boundary. However, she sets that boundary while also giving Danielle the tools to be successful — helping her get out of Yuck and letting her know that she matters too so that Danielle can access the part of her brain that allows her to let go of control.

Danielle: I guess.

Mom: Troy, what do you think about that?

Troy: That’s OK, I guess. Let’s go.


What You Need to Make This
In-the-Moment Scenario Work


Although Danielle and Troy’s mom used Calm, Connect, Correct,
the tools she has used proactively will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

For her to stay CALM in the moment, she needs tools to reduce her overall Yuck and tools to handle her triggers….

Otherwise the kids’ behavior will put her into Yuck and the situation will spiral out of control.

For her to CONNECT in the moment, she needs tools to understand what’s causing her kids’ negative behavior

Otherwise she won’t know how to improve the situation

For her to CORRECT in the moment, the kids need to know she means what she says because she’s been consistent in the past.
She also needs to know how to give the the tools they need to succeed.

(In this case, that Danielle is bossy when she can’t handle the discomfort of things not going her way,
and telling her she’s wrong only makes her feel more out of control and puts her deeper into Yuck.)

Otherwise the kids won’t take her seriously and/or won’t be able to do what she wants them to do.