Bossy Older Child

Dear Miss Faith,
I have a home daycare and I am having trouble during circle and story. I want this to be a beautiful time but one of the children, a precocious big almost 4 year-old girl, tries to take over and be the teacher. I am finding myself in a power struggle with her and I don’t know what to do. Last week I got so caught up in it that I just stopped circle and later stopped the story before I even started because of the behavior of this child who was “stealing the show” with her behavior.

Dear Caregiver,
Thanks for writing! Your big girl is clearly growing up, and feels the difference between herself and the littler ones. Her instinct to “help” you is really a lovely one; it is just that it is being expressed inappropriately. Instead of trying to push her back down, think of what other ‘balancing virtue’ could be strengthened to help balance her out (see my post on Balancing Virtues here). Perhaps the idea of turn-taking? Then there might be times when it’s appropriate for her to be in charge, while other times (like circle time) it’s time for her to take instructions.

Work on this idea of turn-taking throughout your day. Take turns sharing/story-telling at the lunch table (she gets her turn, and must also listen respectfully when it’s someone else’s turn). Play games like Mother May I, and Red-Light, Green-Light, giving her turns to be in charge, and turns following. And during free-play time, you might give her specific times when she (or another child) might be ‘in charge.’ A fun way to do this is to let the child ‘in charge’ do a puppet show for the other children. You can help by asking the child if she wants to do a puppet show, then helping her set it up, call the other children to come watch, and then let her do her thing. Smaller children often like ‘doing’ the puppet show when I narrate the story, while older children enjoy running the whole thing, making up their own story and acting it out with the puppets at the same time.

Helping this little girl to learn that there are times when she can be ‘in charge,’ and times when she can follow, can help her be more appropriate. Pull her aside before your circle, and let her know that during circle time, you will be in charge and it will be a time for her to follow, just like when you play Mother May I. She may need some reminders as she gets used to it again, to establish new habits, but this way, she can be living ‘up’ to new standards, instead of being squashed back down to former ones.

Warmly, ~Miss Faith

P.S. There are still a few spots left in my Tele-Class, “Joyful Days with Toddlers & Preschoolers,” which is starting on Sunday, Jan 27th. Click here for more info: /tele-class-starts-jan-27-2013/


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