top of page
  • Writer's pictureTrish Dotts

Feelin' Bossy

You’ve heard it. Child pitched with a bit of whine--

”Stop it!”

“You can’t sit there!”

“Move over!”

“You can’t start yet!”

“But I want green!”

“He took my paper!”

“Get in line!”

Whatever is said, is irrelevant, the sound grinds ⚙️ happy classroom flow to a halt.  Really, not just the classroom, it’s life.  Do you like to be told what to do?  I sure don’t.  I do not like to be ‘bossed around’ by anybody.

One common mantra students are taught, in order to empower them with words that define their boundaries,  “Please stop, I don’t like it and I mean it!”  or more commonly, Please STOP!.  Then when the offending party doesn’t ‘grow up’ then the offended child goes to the teacher reporting, “I asked her to stop and she won’t.”

Please STOP!  a great tool. ✋ It is important for all of us to be able to stand our ground.   STOP! should be clear.  It should make another person STOP.  Uh, but at grade school, it doesn’t. Because STOP is usually misused on tiny annoying or accidental infractions. Like, you know, noisy breathing, foot-tapping, chair wiggling, and accidental bumping.  

For adults, its little things like “Do it this way”  or my favorite, when a stranger Shhhhhhhhh!’s you on the airplane.🤫

At school, after a child says STOP, the other party argues, “I wasn’t” or “That’s mine” or “You did it first”  or STOP bossing me!”  Oh, the insanity!

So, what do we do?  How can we empower our children to recognize what bothers them?  How should we respond when we get bossed around?

First, what to do when you’ve been “Bossed?”

What to do when you’re feelin’ bossy?

What do you say?  

I have them make a prediction.

The students all think Stop it!  Is the right answer.

Teacher: WWhat do you think I say when I get bossed? Make a prediction, but keep it in your head.  Then When I say it, show me ‘surprised fingers’ because this one is pretty surrising!  Ready?”

Student’s show me that they have a prediction ready.  They tap their fingers along their jaw.

"Wait for it!

THANK YOU, I hope your day gets better.

Yep, that’s what I say when someone ‘bosses ‘ me.  I say, 'Thank you.'

Students wiggle “Surprised” fingers in the air.  Some blurt out “What?”

Hey, I look a lot cooler when I say “Thank you,” than I do when I say “Stop it.”

 I like to save “STOP it” for the really important things, like bullying or actual aggressive pushing.

You gotta' appreciate that the Bossers are either standing up for themselves, or they are trying to help save you some trouble.”  so “Thank you” is perfect.

Now it doesn’t always make the other person stop bossing, but it is waaay more effective than telling the ‘bosser’ to STOP.

Buuut what if you are feeling bossy?  What if you see a classmate stepping out of line, getting in your space or talking so you can’t hear?

This can be difficult, for even adults.

But you are never to young to try.  Ready?

Check in with your own feelings.


Are you feeling cramped because someone is in your space?  Say it.  “I feel cramped when people are in my space”

Sitting next to a talker? 🗣️ “I get distracted when others are talking”

 “I feel uncomfortable when people bump into me”

Want someone to hurry up and get into line?  “I feel excited to go to recess, I wish we could just get in line.”

“I feel worried that my paper will get ruined when people make a mess.”

Take a breath and label the feeling.  

Sometimes just saying how you feel out loud does the trick.  It’s a great way to stand up for yourself and still show respect for other people.

⚠️Important tip.  I statement NEVER include YOU.  When a child says, I feel frustrated when YOU talk to me, it opens an opportunity for ARGUING.  I wasn’t talking to you.  I didn’t bump you.  Also, it prevents the unfairness that occurs when students only get bossy with that one kid that annoys them.

Students report that saying THANK YOU works! Even on their siblings.

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page