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"My 8-year-old is too bossy!"

Q. My 8-year-old daughter is really bossy, not just with her younger siblings, but her friends, too. I'm afraid other kids won't like her because of it. How can I reign her in?

This is a tough one, because the last thing you want to do is squash your daughter's natural leadership qualities. This, after all, is what her bossiness is all about, right? Wanting to lead? If she were a boy, we'd probably all be applauding her for being able to rally the troops. Instead of reigning in what could turn out to be fine qualities when she grows up, teach your daughter how to use her powers for good. Explain to her the difference between a true leader and someone who is bossy; let her know that while being a leader will give her a fair amount of friendly control over others, the latter can drive away kids she may actually like. Then show her how: A true leader doesn't hoard, yell, order, threaten, or be mean to others; instead, she is fair, kind, shares, and cares about other peoples' feelings. Let her know, too, that these are also qualities we all look for in a good friend. Now she's not going to stop being bossy right away; this is only the first of many conversations. So when you hear her slipping into her old habits, pull her to the side and remind her how to lead and be nice about it. Conversely, when you catch her in the act of using her newfound skills the right way, praise her for her efforts. Soon enough, she'll be making solid friendships and influencing people -- a profound skill that will ultimately serve her well.

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