Bossy, Bossy, Bossy

Does this face look bossy to you?

Contrary to popular belief, the 2's don't have to be terrible. My mom always calls them terrific and I have to agree. It is a time of discovery and development. It is really fun to watch kids start to come into their own.


There is something that comes with being 2 that is not terrific.

2 Year olds can be BOSSY, BOSSY, BOSSY
Toddlers, 2-3 year olds in particular, want things their way. 

1. It's a child's way of feeling in control when their parents have all the power.

2. Toddlers have poor social skills. They have yet to learn how to deal with other kids, or adults. Remember, they are only 2. They are still learning empathy and good manners.

3. They are still developing communicating skills. They have feelings and emotions, as well as opinions, but they don't know how to express themselves.  

4. Some kids are born with more dominant personalities than others. The dominant personality trait can come off as bossy. 

Most kids grow out of the bossy phase. They quickly realize that other kids don't like to be told what to do and that they are not the center of the universe. 
Until they grow out of it...

Offer choices. Letting children choose makes them feel like they are in control. It is empowering for them to make their own choices. Small choices such as what color shirt they should wear, or if they want water or milk to drink with lunch, will make a big difference. They will no longer have the need to boss others around when they feel like they are making their own choices. 

Pay Attention. The bossiness could stem from the need for more attention. It could mean that as parents, we need to spend more quality time with them. 

Be a Good Example. Are we bossy moms? If we are, then we are teaching our children that bossy is the way to be. It can be really hard, but we need to take a step back and treat our children how we want to be treated. I can't stand it when people boss me around. Imagine how a 2 year old would feel. 
I know this can be really hard. Their are schedules and responsibilities that we as moms are always juggling. Often our bossiness comes from trying to meet all the expectations. That could be a cue that we need to simplify and put ourselves in our children's position. Seeing life through their eyes will help us boss less and love and play more. 

Enforce the Rules. Just because a child is 2, doesn't make their behavior acceptable. We need to be sure we enforce the rules and when children are bossy and demanding, let them know that their tone and actions are not acceptable. Do not give in to their bossy requests until they ask with the right tone and the right words. 

Enforce Social Skills. Teach children to say please and thank you. When they do boss, don't give in to their demands. Ask them, "Is that how you ask for a drink of milk?" Or, "How would you feel if your brother didn't share with you?" Bring social skills to their attention. Help them to learn empathy by pointing out others feelings and situations. Help them form good social habits, and in time, as they grow out of the bossiness, the good behavior will continue. 

Strengthen Their Self Esteem. Ask your child to help you with everyday, simple responsibilities. In our house, our two year old helps put things away, loves to stand on a stool and put clothes in the washer, and will stand at the sink with me for an hour "doing" dishes. When I ask her to help, her face lights up. You would think it was Christmas. She gets even more excited when I praise her for her help. Helping, makes them feel important and grown up without having to boss someone else around.  

Curbing the Bossiness can make the 2's much less terrible and much more TERRIFIC. 

Does your 2 year old have a favorite household "chore?"
Weight in: Are the 2's terrible or terrific.


  1. I found you on Sits and love that you share practical tips for parenting! Discipline seems to be a topic that parents are afraid to talk about. Glad to see it addressed here:) I once stepped away from my two year old son as he threw a tantrum in line at blockbuster. I completely acted as if I didn't see him. It was hard not to pick him up and run out of the store in embarrassment. For several confusing moments after I stepped away, he got quiet, stood up and came over to stand beside me. It was a wonderful moment for both of us.

  2. I agree with your mother and have always championed the "2"s as terrific. I was sad for those who immediately called it "terrible" or would blame any errand behaviour starting at 18 months as being "terrible twos." With my children I have found so much joy, wonder, and discovery at that age.

    And when they turn three, my husband and I find that we need to really polish up our parenting skills -- but we really enjoy this stage as well. Young children have so much life but I think they are frequently marginalized because of the transitional aspect of their age (too old to cuddle like a baby, too young to read, write, or hold a conversation with a grown-up.)

  3. I agree with you. I didn't feel like the 2s were terrible, it was the 3s. And they weren't terrible, they were challenging. With my son he was great at 2 and 3. With our daughter, she became quite the obstinate (sp?) one. But she quickly learned that mommy and daddy were the boss and she couldn't get away with too much. Still to this day she can be bossy, but has learned where and when it's appropriate.

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