can a six year old be ‘the boss’?

My daughter and her former partner share the parenting of their two
children, a girl aged six and a boy of two. When the children are
with their father, he tells the girl that she is ‘the boss’. As a
result, when she is with her mother she is difficult,
confrontational, and reluctant to do anything she is asked. How
should my daughter tackle this?

It’s more likely that she’s acting out her feelings about the situation as a whole than simply bringing home bossy habits. Having parents living apart is painful and difficult for children. Their anger, anxiety and guilt often comes out in tantrums or demands. “You’re the boss” may be her father’s way of dealing with this, and his own guilt about the situation, when she’s with him.

Co-parenting works best when kids see that Mum and Dad may no longer be partners but are forever parents, can set aside their own disagreements and put them first. Your daughter would find it helpful to arrange a meeting with her ex to talk over the way the situation and their behaviour might be affecting their kids, and how they can work together. A mediator (National Family Mediation 020 7383 5993 National Family Mediation would help.

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