9 Year Old Doesn't "Get" She Is Being Bossy and Talking Back

Updated on August 12, 2010
D.A. asks from Henderson, NV
11 answers

How do I deal with my 9 year old who is bossy and talks back to me? She doesn't seem to "get" that by insisting that her sister and friends do things how she wants them that she is in the wrong. She is a gifted child academically but socially and "parentally" immature. Scenario: today she was in the swimming pool with her little sister and their mutual friend. My 9 year old wanted to "count down" the others jumping in. They didn't want her to. She hollered at them that they weren't being fair or playing nice. She had just been in trouble for talking back to me when I addressed the exact same behavior. How do I get her to understand this isn't acceptable, that she needs to do what I ask her to when I ask and not demand justification from me and that she cannot always be the boss. I talked to her and told her I needed her to write me an essay about how she would handle her behavior if she was the parent. She said that she hadn't done anything wrong so she didn't know how to write about it. I then asked her to think about how she would handle a child who was bossy and then talked back to a parent. Her response was that it would depend on the situation and refused to "create" a situation to answer the question. Argghh. Gifted is not what its cracked up to be, the burden seems to outweight the benefit. She really doesn't get it.

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So What Happened?

I told her that I would get back with her. I am thinking that I want to create a scenario for her and have her write about it. She is acting like it never happened. Yet another frustration for me, as I am still peeved at her. :

I am sure she DOES NOT get it. She is even in therapy because of her inabilty to handle issues such as this.
The comment about Ausbergers was interesting. My nephew has Asbergers but is atypical. I have often seem behaviors in my daughter that remind me of students of mine that has Asbergers or typical Autism Spectrum issues. She is so intelligent that she just doesn't get things that she can't logic out. I like the roll play idea. Time outs do not work - they did not work when she was a toddler, a "big kid" nor do they work now. She doesn't mind them, she merely sits through them and goes back exactly where she started. Thank you all for the info. Sorry that I couldn't figure out how to add this at the end of the thread, I'm a newbie to the forum.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Time outs work for some children try is no more than 10 minutes and the she had to say i am soorryy hope it works for A. n0 hills





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answers from Las Vegas on


Oh my gosh!! You are so right. I wish they had another name for it than "gifted" because it sure doesn't feel that way sometimes. I have a 9-year-old girl who is highly gifted and has the same problem. You're right. Time outs don't work. In fact, there are very few punishments that do. Our daughter has been in therapy as well. I have an unfortunate tendency of lecturing her, which really just gives her more opportunity to argue. I find it's actually the arguing that's worse than anything else. We've started three things lately that have actually helped. First, some books I read "Parenting Gifted Kids" by James R. Delisle, "The Survival Guide for Parents of Gifted Kids" and "Parenting with Love and Logic", by Fay and Cline. I also got her a book called "Survival Guide for Gifted Kids." There's one suggestion from Love and Logic for arguing. You simply say to your child "I love you too much to argue with you." Which my daughter alternately hated because it frustrated her and thought was exceedling clever of us because she knew she couldn't argue with a statement like that! We also started a "marble jar". Marble in for behavior acceptable behavior, marble out for unacceptable behavior. We are extremely specific about exactly what she does that causes her to either earn or lose a marble. No arguing allowed. You lose marbles when you argue. In our case, marbles are traded in for cash. We make it more interesting by having different sized marbles. She gets a large marble for treating people really nicely, or not starting an argument when she could have. At the end of the week, small marbles are worth 25 cents and she rolls a dice to determine how much we pay for the large marbles ($1 - $6). It's the only money she gets--we don't buy her anything except necessities, so if she wants something more she has to buy it herself. We do a lot of positive reinforcement (Wow, look how many marbles you got today!). We also had a process for behavior at school. She wanted a fish really badly and we worked with her teachers to earn points. It was a struggle for her, but she finally did it. These are the only reward systems that's ever worked for us for more than a week (and we've been struggling with behavior issues for the last 6 years). You are exactly right--these children don't do these things out of willfulness, they really don't get it. One of the reasons they argue is that they think if you can see their side of things you will agree with them because they are so very logical. What they don't understand is that intelligence is wonderful, but they lack enough life experience to make sound decisions--especially where others are concerned. As far as the Asperger's, we had my daughter tested as many of the behaviors of gifted (particularly highly gifted) are the same as those of Asperger's. So I wouldn't say don't have her evaluated, but understand that there's a good chance this is all about giftedness. Also, if you haven't had her evaluated for highly gifted, you may want to do that as well. Highly gifted kids are as different from gifted kids as gifted kids are from typical kids. I really, really wish the label was different. I don't know what your experience is, but most of the people in our life really don't get it. They think my daughter should be the model of perfect behavior because "she's smart enough to know better." I even have family members who think so. I wish we could get services the way parents of children with disabilities can. Anyway, if you want to talk further, please email me. I notice we both live in Henderson...

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answers from Chicago on

I think perhaps the easiest thing to do is to tell her that she only gets to make the rules of herself. Therefore, no telling other people what to do, who to "be" when they play or directing other people's behaviors.

We are going through something similar with our 7 yr old - for quite awhile now.

And it helps to remind her that she is only responsible for herself and her own behavior. NOT other people.

When she becomes bossy or makes the rules of the games I remind her that she gets to pick who SHE pretends to be and not for anyone else.

Perhaps instead of an essay for your daughter you should have a role playing day. Spend part of the morning pretending to act like she does. Tell her what to eat, what to wear, what games to play, etc. Then spend some time talking about how she liked being treated that way. Then you can spend part of the afternoon having her "practicing" talking to you and her little sister "how she would like to be treated".

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answers from Dallas on

Congrats to you for raising a vivacious, organized and spirited girl! We need more of those in the world. You will be able to steer her strong characteristics into their positive traits with a little guidance.
Is she a bookworm too?
Even gifted kiddos can't work in abstracts at that age. My son went through this just a couple months ago. Miraculously, it took watching a grown man throw an absurd temper tantrum in public over not getting his way at a fast food place. He was appalled that an adult would act like a little kid which helped me equate that experience to the importance of manners, self control, and thinking things through. He got tired of hearing me talk about it though and after a couple days turned off his ears again and continued back talking.
He is big on board games and books so I went to several bookstores and a unique toy shop in dallas and found several good videos, books, and noodletown board games to help reinforce the behavior I wanted him to model.

Then all you do is sit back and praise her when she shows the attitude you want to see and bite your tongue when she slips, walk away and give her a few minutes to realized what she did and apologize on her own. Even if she doesn't apologize the first few times (but she will soon and without prompting it will be sincere) you will send the message without drama or nagging that you want to be treated politely with respect.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Try looking into The American Girl Library Books. Which are different than the American Girl (Doll) Series. Most have the pre-title A Smart Girl's Guide To: and these books deal with friendship, family, money, babysitting, boys, middle school, taking care of your body, taking care of feelings, sticky situations, and much more. There are probably 20 different titles to choose from, I'd suggest looking on line. My daughter has and continues to find these books very helpful. Sometimes I walk into her room and see one open on her bed so I know she refers to them as issues arise. They are written on a tween level and are filled with quotes from other girls about the topics. They are nicely done and aimed at keeping girls girls not small grown-ups. I would highly recommend for starters A Smart Girl's Guide To Friendship and The Care and Keeping of You. We probably own a dozen of them and they are absolutely worth the space on the book shelf.

Good Luck!

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answers from Austin on

My son is 8, and has problems like this where he wants to be the one to make up the rules of the game. I just have to tell him that the other kids do not have to follow his rules. He is not their teacher or parent, and they can choose not to play if they don't like his game. And likewise, they can't tell him what he's allowed to imagine.
My son does have Aspergers/ADHD. Since this is a common problem with Aspergers kids, you might be able to get some good ideas from books about it even though your daughter doesn't have it.

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answers from Phoenix on

When she gets bossy or mouthy just put her in time out for 10 minutes. For instance, when she's yelling at the kids then say. "Okay, you need to sit out of the pool for 10 minutes because you're not being kind." You don't need to be angry or say much more than that. Just set her in time out each time and she'll get the picture.

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answers from San Diego on

Hello, I would completely ignore her everytime she did this and if that didn't work, I would send her to her room each time. She is looking for control and by not reacting to her, you take the control away. I have a son who is the same way and he is now 40.
Good luck with your precious family.
K. K.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My gifted 9 year old daughter is the same way. She doesn't feel she is being bossy and demanding when she is yelling at her friends or sister. Her sister is older and trys to explain that no one wants to play with her because of the bossyness and she doesn't see it that way. If people don't do it her way then it is no way. I was told by one of the gifted teachers at her school that this is part of being gifted but I am a former teacher ( until my kids started school 7 years ago) now a stay at home mom, and I see kids all the time, gifted and other, and very few are like my bossy child. I wish to stop this behavior also but don't know how. Taking away stuff doesn't matter either.



answers from Los Angeles on

Have you ever got it on tape. If my little ones are throwing a fit I sometimes record them on my cell phone. Then I play it back to them and they are so embarassed. If you anticipate it maybe you can get it set up. Then she may actually see what she is doing??? Good Luck.


answers from Kansas City on

I have a 9 year old that is just very much the same way. I personally think they do get it. It's just easier to act like they don't.

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