Bossy 3 Year Old

Updated on October 30, 2007
D.J. asks from Amarillo, TX
5 answers

I have a three year old son who is very bossy. He is a good kid otherwise, he seldom throws fits, hits or bullies his friends. However, lately my husband and I are feeling like he is trying to become the parent. He is always bossing us around, and asking us to do stuff for him that he is completely old enough to do himself. His tone has also become very hateful at times. We are not at all against discipline. We regularly put him in time out, and only let him up when he apologizes for ordering us around. We have also swatted him several times lately when he gets hateful with us. The problem is I don't think it is sinking in. We will have a huge discipline session, then five minutes later he is doing the same thing again. How do you teach a three year old to speak politely and not be so demanding?

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answers from Houston on

wow...I guess there are a lot of us that are experiencing this! We have not found anything that is really working well, so I look forward to the other posts.

We have done something similar to Rebecca when he whines. I tell him that I don't speak Whinese (pronounced like the word Chinese) that he needs to speak Big Boy. It usually works because he doesn't get his way and he is forced to talk right in order to get our attention.

Good Luck



answers from Austin on

Hi Mom!

Teach by example! Most boys are pretty darn rough at 3 years, I know mine was and all his little toddler friends were too! i think that at that age they simply don't know how to articulate themselves. So if they want your attention they hit, if they want to express themselves the yell, if they want it they go for it. They have no idea about manners and patience and kindness, so you show by example.

It is interesting because you'll be tested along the way. He'll be aggressive so you'll get mad, but instead you have to not get mad and tell him and show him how to not be aggressive and how to be nice. It can be a long road. But I've been down it and survived... you will too. Oh also very important, you have to give lots of praise when he does things right! That is REALLY the key, when he does something the "new" nice way... be sure to give lots of praise with hugs and hand clapping and perhaps an occassional treat to say "Great Job" when he does the right thing. The other key is thing instead of spanking when he is aggressive take away a favorite toy for the night. That makes a far better impression about concequence of action over spanklings and time outs. Give the toy back the next day if he changes his behavior. If I ever got bad reports from day care about my son hitting or being aggressive I would take away his bucket of legos until I got a good report from day care the next day. Once his legos were away for 2 days and during the same time his hot wheels were gone for a day. Guess what... he began to figure it out. I was never mean about it I just explained that were we all going to learn to be nice and talk nice!

Good Luck DeDe! CJ



answers from San Antonio on

My 3 yr old son is doing the exact same thing and it drives us crazy. Lately, we have been saying " I don't understand you" and ignore him until he speaks to us properly. It seems to be working somewhat. I am hoping this is a phase he will outgrow soon :).



answers from Dallas on

Wow - if you were talking about your daughter instead of son, Id think you were in our house! :-) Our DD does a really good imitation of me when she wants to be the parent: "Mommy - look into my eyes and listen. What am I saying?" (that one is hard not to just bust a gut laughing!). But she does get demanding and wont say please or ask for something nicely. In those instances, we either ignore her request or tug on our ears "Daddy, did you hear Elizabeth ask for something? I could have sworn she did, but something was missing...". THat usually works, although we find this happens repeatedly. I think its the age. Dont let him get the best of you - remind him through your actions YOU are the parent. Good luck!!!


answers from Dallas on

I'm sure some people would not like this option but it worked for us. It is kindof silly but if you are dramatic about it, it can work.

My daughter (now 12) was and sometimes still is like that. She was also a whiner.

When she got bossy......we'd put hands on hips and use a not so nice tone and say.........."Bossy Betty go away come again another day" then walk away.

When she whines....we'd put our fingers in our ears like the whining was hurting our ears and say ..."Wendy Whiner go away come again another day" then walk away.

To this day....If we call her Betty or Wendy she stops what she is doing. This continues to work for us. Now we deal with Drama Mama, etc. It is an inside joke in our family now but it worked.


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