Hank has been bossy lately. Gus hates it. Today I overheard him say, “Gus…what did I say? You better listen to me.” while they were playing football. Gus is going to have a long life.
Being bossy isn’t just something done by three-year olds. It is something done by every single parent in the world. Even me. Yep. I said it. I am bossy. Hank gets it from no stranger.
Being bossy isn’t always horrible. I mean, if I wasn’t a little bossy, Hank would be wearing shorts in the dead of winter and Gus would live off of fruit snacks and apple sauce. Mama’s gotta wear her bossy pants some days, or the whole world would fall apart. But, I am not talking about telling my kids to put on their shoes or put their toys away, I am talking about when they are playing.
Being bossy while your kiddos are playing is no good. It’s garbage. Telling your child how to play accomplishes one thing: they don’t want to play with you anymore. Seriously, give it a try. Watch your kiddo play for a few minutes, and then in mid play tell them what to do. “Make that cow eat. Put that pig in the pen. Push the tractor.” Twenty bucks says your little one tells you to go fly a kite…or just walks away and finds something else to do.
There is a reason for this. Kids play because they are exploring and imagining. There is no wrong way to play. And when we tell our kiddos how to play, they no longer are allowed to explore and imagine on their own terms. Instead of telling your little one how to play, play with them. Follow their lead. If the cows fly, fly. If the pigs go grocery shopping, go grocery shopping. When you allow your child to explore and learn on their own terms, they will play with you for longer periods of time. Increasing the length of time they play with items will increase their vocabulary, attention span, and social development. All through play. Because play is awesome.
So get out of here! Get playing!