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Just Bossy -- or a Bully?

Is your young child bossy to friends or siblings?

Bossy behavior can start as young as five, and psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor says, "Bossy kids are not trying to manipulate you. You can help them understand and formulate, as a 5-year-old or 8-year old, a better way to get what they want.

"There should a discussion about the rules of the household, or how to treat other people and children/sibling. How kids behave inside is also how they should behave outside."

Taylor shared more advice on "The Early Show" Thursday. She explained how parents can spot bossy behavior, and break their young child of it.
But why do kids begin to behave bossy at such a young age?

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"The bossiness is a form of communication, it's a social interaction," Taylor told CBS News. "As parents we need to help them better communicate their needs and wants. I think it's important for parents to be observant of their child's behavior, how they get want they want versus one who wants to do it their way and get what they want."

Taylor said at five to six years old, the world is all about them.
"It may not be bossy behavior, they just want, want to want," she said.
Parents, Taylor said, need to be careful what they label as bossy.
"There are some kids who are going to be the director and the ones who want to be directed. I like children who are clear about what they want. As parents we need to help them understand what it is they need, the language they should use and what their goal is in a respectful way so we are not altering their personality."

But do these kids understand their bossy behavior?

"Certainly an 8-year-old more than a 5-year-old knows what they are doing. But if a younger child cries and misbehaves they are aware of how you, the parent, responds to that behavior not necessarily what they are doing."

However, there are young children who actually do "bully" other children. Taylor said there is a difference between being a bossy child and a bully child.

"When kids are bossy frequently, it is not intentional," Taylor said, "it is a behavior pattern."

She told "Early Show" co-anchor Harry Smith, bullies try to manipulate, coerce or shame someone into giving them what they want with no thought to the other child or parent's feelings.

"It's intentional," Taylor said of child bullies. "There are kids who bully their parents."

Should parents worry about bossy behavior, or is it a behavior that will pass?

A parent should be concerned about a child who has been labeled a bully, according to Taylor.

"Bullying is not a natural part of childhood," she said, "so if you can intervene early on to help them change their behavior you can help them for a lifetime."

As parent, if you find your child's bossiness becomes disruptive where it interferes with their peers at school or other family members, she said, then that could mean that work should be done.

"It's an opportunity for a parent to teach their child about how their behavior is making people feel," Taylor said, "and the tone they are using to get what they want."

But what should parents do if their child is bossy?

Taylor suggests praising them by saying, "that is so great that you know what you want."

Bossy kids are not trying to manipulate you, Taylor said, adding bossy children have a leadership quality that could be essential in life. However, she suggests parents should model better behavior to show them the optimal behavior.

"You can help them understand and formulate in a 5-year old or 8-year old way, a better way to get what they want," she said. "There should a discussion about the rules of the household, or how to treat other people and children/sibling. How kids behave inside is also how they should behave outside."

There is a flip side, too. If your child is being bullied, Taylor has some recommendations for you.

You should get your child to talk to you about how they feel, Taylor said,

"Help them practice the right to speak up, and let them know they can find other friends to play with if they don't want to play with the bossy child," she said.

As for siblings, she said, fighting is natural.

"As parents you are given the opportunity to use (sibling fighting) as a teaching moment, and you should decide what is tolerable or not tolerable in your household."

Physical and verbal signs that parents should look for in a child that is bossy:

-Watch words that are used ("you'd better" do this -- words that feel more threatening)
-Putting their hands on someone to get them do to something
-Disruptive Behavior is observed in play (a playdate ends in another child crying, toys are thrown or the child is constantly disruptive)

How to handle a bossy child:
-Praise Them
-Model Acceptable Behavior
-Discussion of Social Rules

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