When a child is bossy

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When a child is bossy

We're having an escalating problem with alpha children in North America; different from probably anywhere else in the world. Children who tell their parents what to do. Try and get their parents to listen, who are demanding, bossy, controlling, and are often that with their friends. They appear as if they are strong and independent, but something is amiss. Something is dreadfully amiss. When we put the puzzle pieces together about attachment, we find that we attach in one of two ways. There are two modalities. There's a dependent modality, to look up to, to seek comfort in, to follow, to look for direction. Then there is the alpha mode which is to give the answer to all of this; to give direction, take charge. it's that generous presentation where you don't present yourself as having the answers, but you are the answer to the dependent. This is a beautiful dance. The problem is this: When it's not safe to depend or when the parent does not find their good alpha instinct of taking charge. What happens is that a child can only attach, going on top. By the time they are three years old, the children become bossy, prescriptive, they are alpha children. They have an alpha complex. This is rampant in our society. In traditional societies, culture scripts this alpha presence, so the children naturally fall into the dependent, looking up to, seeking, kind of dance. The answer is very simple. Make it safe to depend upon you for the child. Find those alpha instincts you, find yourself as the answer to what that child needs. When you see your child is in need of you, and you present yourself as the answer to those needs, it corrects the dance. The child begins to depend, rather than to climb on top.

View Gordon Neufeld, PhD's video on When a child is bossy...


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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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