"You're not the boss of me."
Eleanor Petersen of St. Louis wants to do everything herself. So when her mom, Amy, was in a rush and buckled the car seat for her, Eleanor, 3, declared, "You're not the boss of me." Petersen had to bite her tongue to keep from answering, "You wanna bet?"
A better way to respond: "As a mom, you have to try not to get caught up in the words and instead connect with the feeling underneath them," says Kurcinka. "You can ask, 'What's going on here? What's the need she's trying to express, and how can I help her do it more appropriately?'" In a calmer moment, Petersen realized that what her daughter really wanted was control. When her mom gave her options (like "Do you want to do the top buckle or the bottom buckle?"), Eleanor was far more likely to cooperate. You can even head off "You're not the boss of me" by teaching your child to say, "I'd like a choice," instead.