How to deal with a controlling child

Words via Parent TV

Kids can be demanding little creatures and sometimes it feels like they think parents only job is to be their servants. But sometimes a child’s need for control and power can go beyond normal limits.


Some behaviours that indicate your child might be controlling include if they:

  • Are often described as “strong-willed” and have a dominant personality.
  • Say “no” to nearly everything.
  • Insist on things being done their way.
  • Refuse food you prepare for them.
  • Refuse to drink from a certain cup or use a certain coloured plate.
  • Constantly push boundaries.
  • Dictate play with other children.
  • Resist being told what to do all the time.

Of course, the presence of these behaviours may be developmentally appropriate (such as in toddlers).

Children with control issues often know how to push their parents buttons and it can be very exhausting parenting a controlling child.


Like many adults, children often exhibit controlling behaviours due to their insecurities or lack of confidence. Trying to control a situation within their environment makes them feel more control of things in general. In other words, a child with controlling tendencies often feels out of control and powerless.


When you have a controlling child, it can be hard not to engage in a power struggle. Because, after all, you are the parent and should ultimately be the one in charge of the situation. Unfortunately, this can escalate quickly because rather than submit to your authority, your child will fight harder to dominate. It also sends your child the wrong message, as it negatively reinforces the message that control is the ultimate goal.

Conversely, sometimes parents find it is easier to submit to a child’s demands. While the path of least resistance may be effective in the short-term, it can lead to bigger problems when your child is faced with situations where they aren’t able to get what they want.

Some other tips to dealing with a controlling child include:

  • Set clear limits and boundaries with consistent consequences.
  • Learn your child’s triggers for control and learn to manage them.
  • Maintain control of your own feelings (and desire for control). Do not let your child push your buttons.
  • Avoid saying the word “NO” or giving ultimatums. Instead offer acceptable alternatives such as: “We have to leave right now so do you want me to put your shoes on or will you do it yourself?”
  • Give your child opportunities to build their confidence by doing things that they are good at. Offer lots of praise and positive reinforcement.
  • Give your child responsibilities around the house and let them help you do things such as cook a meal. This will give them a sense of achievement and made them feel capable.

Above all, be sure to take care of yourself. Parenting a child with controlling tendencies can be exhausting. Make sure you have support and take time out to regroup.


Leave Your Reply