To the Parent of the “Bossy” Girl

Cooperation can happen when you understand her better

Have you ever wished your daughter weren’t so opinionated?

You know that her opinions will serve her well someday. But if you’ve ever worried that she comes on too strong, I have some insight to help and reassure you.

Each child moves through the world in his or her own way.

Some children are highly adaptable in their behavior and thinking. Others are more naturally structured and opinionated. In my book, The Child Whisperer, I call the four main ways that children move through life the 4 Types of children.

The More Serious Type 4 girl is likely to be labeled “bossy.” 

This child naturally has a bold nature. She insists on being her own authority, which often leads to her trying to express her opinions or exert authority over others. Peers, parents, or teachers can get frustrated if they don’t understand her bold nature.

Instead of calling her “bossy” (which can be deeply shaming), you can help your daughter embrace her bold nature and manage it well. Use these insights to understand her better!

1. Your daughter may not understand how she is perceived.

Type 4 children have a keen eye for what can be perfected. They also tend to be direct in their communication. So they see themselves as just speaking the truth—without realizing they can come across to others as critical and blunt. If people call her “bossy,” she may not even understand why, so she won’t know what to do with that label.

As your daughter grows, she needs support to recognize others’ experience with her. Then she can turn her keen eye for perfection toward improving the relationships that matter to her.

TIP: Rather than calling out concerning behavior in the moment, coach your daughter privately afterward. Tell her that you know she doesn’t want to hurt her family or friends. Explain in a straightforward way that other people do not always think or feel the same way she does. Help her put herself in their shoes. You can have this conversation again and again in different ways.

2. Your daughter is not trying to be manipulative or mean.

Because of her serious nature, your daughter may seem more mature than her age. So when she behaves in a disagreeable way, you might assume she’s doing it on purpose. Chances are, she’s not. If you ever think of your young daughter as manipulative, take a step back.

Your daughter is probably not malicious. In her focus on perfection, she probably thinks her ideas are the best and assumes everyone else will too.

TIP: Assume that your daughter cares about other people. She may not show it in the same way you do, but her feelings do run deep. When conflict arises, take the time to find out her intentions. If she didn’t mean to hurt anyone, you can talk about how to achieve her intentions in more effective ways.

3. Your Type 4 daughter is selective about who she lets in.

As she grows, the More Serious Type 4 child can become an especially private person. She is always thinking and her feelings run deep. But she doesn’t always offer her thoughts or feelings to others.

Depending on the situation she’s in or the person she’s with, she may keep her personal boundaries up pretty high, especially if they’ve told her that she’s “bossy.” Only those she trusts and respects are allowed behind her walls.

TIP: Respect her boundaries and her personal space. Give her time and opportunities to be alone. When she does share, pay attention. Ask for her to explain further what she thinks and take her seriously. Listen as attentively to her as you want her to listen to you. When she knows she can trust you, you’ll be invited in.

4. Your daughter will resist if you put her on the spot.

Your daughter may have bold energy, but she doesn’t like attention called to her when it’s unwanted or spontaneous.

Being asked to answer or do something in front of others without warning is uncomfortable. She does much better when she has time to prepare her thoughts. Teasing or scolding in front of others is the worst kind of attention a Type 4 child could receive.

TIP: If you find that you accidentally put your daughter on the spot in front of others, support her by taking the attention back off of her. Or support her if she feels she needs to leave. Public embarrassment or unwelcome attention is particularly hard on a Type 4 child. Help her feel confident that she can take charge of herself in those situations. 

5. Your daughter thrives on respect and knowing where she stands.

Respect is one of the highest priorities for a Type 4 child. They will only give authority in their life to those they respect. (And you obviously want to be one of those people.)

Children do need to learn how to offer courtesy to everyone. But a Type 4 child will not automatically respect everyone in an authority position, nor do they need to. If your daughter speaks disrespectfully to or about an adult, that’s a good sign that trust has been lost.

TIP: Your child highly values clarity and respect. Always be honest with your daughter. Speak and act respectfully toward her (even when you feel frustrated with her) and she will respond. When she has a foundation of honestly and respect with you, she will move through your relationship and the world with much greater success.

Are you parenting a Type 4 daughter? If so, go back and review the Type 4 section in The Child Whisperer book from time to time.

A refresher will be supportive to you! If you don’t know which Type of child you’re parenting, pick up a copy of The Child Whisperer. You’ll learn how to read your child more clearly and create more cooperation and happiness in your home.

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