trying not to raise a pushover

There’s a new little girl in Catie’s daycare class named Allie. She’s the youngest of them by far, she just turned 3 a couple of weeks ago. Most of the other kids in the classroom are 3 1/2 to 4. But Allie was used to being the Queen Bee of the 2 year-old room, and she’s trying to maintain that status in the new classroom.

So lately, a lot of conversations at our house have been going like this:

Me: Do you want to wear your sneakers or your pink shoes*?

Catie: I want my pink shoes. But I have to take my socks off. Allie says I can’t wear socks with my pink shoes.

Me: Sweetie, if you want to wear socks with your pink shoes, you can. It doesn’t matter. Allie doesn’t make the rules.

*Note: “Pink shoes” is what she calls her crocs. And yes, she usually wears socks with them. I don’t care about the fashion statement, since, you know, SHE’S THREE. And if she has socks on, she’ll stay comfortable in them longer and won’t run over to me every 2 minutes to complain about some microscopic speck of dust in her shoe that’s bugging her.


Me: What do you want to drink with your dinner?

Catie: Milk. Allie says I can’t drink water or juice, only milk.

Me: Um, you can drink whatever you want, actually.

Catie: I can? Then I’d like some juice, please.


At bedtime, Catie is snuggling with her stuffed horse, who she named Duck (which I think is hilarious), and we’re talking about her day. (Also: Duck the horse happens to have been the stuffed animal she brought to school earlier that day.)

Catie: Allie said I can’t call my horsey Duck, because he’s a horse, not a duck. So I need to name him Cayden.

Me: Catie Bug, he’s YOUR horse, not Allie’s. You can re-name him if you want to, but I think Duck is a great name for him.

Catie (getting upset): And today, Allie said I had to put Duck in my cubby, and I wanted to hold him.

Me: Did Miss Mandy tell you that you had to put him in your cubby, or did she say it was ok for you to hold onto him?

Catie: She said I could hold him.

Me: Well, baby, Miss Mandy makes the rules when you’re at school, not Allie. So the next time she tries to tell you what to do, you need to very nicely say, “Allie, you’re not the boss of me.” And if she keeps trying to tell you what to do, you need to go tell Miss Mandy to make her stop.

Catie: Ok, I do that.


Today, I took Catie to daycare. We walked in, and Catie marched up to Allie without so much as a hello, and said, “Allie, you NOT the boss of me!”

Oy. I guess she misunderstood the part about waiting until Allie did something bossy, and I was kind of horrified that she did it that way. But then? Allie’s response was, “I know I’m not the boss of you, Catie. Now here, you take this and go put it over there…” And Catie turned around and did exactly what Allie told her to do.

The good news is that the daycare teacher is well aware of the situation and is continually telling Allie to stop being bossy. Apparently she acts like that with all the kids, not just Catie.

I worry about how to teach Catie to stand up for herself and not be a pushover, but also keep her from taking it too far and becoming bossy herself. The line is pretty fuzzy when you’re dealing with kids this young.

I just never want her to conform to somebody else’s idea of what she should be.

Trying on hats at Target

Because who she is? Is pretty flipping fantastic.

8 thoughts on “trying not to raise a pushover

  1. I agree, Duck is a great name for a horse. Don’t worry, Catie will decide when it is important to push and when its not. She’s smart, just like her Mommy and Daddy!

  2. Elizabeth has this with her BFF at school, Chloe. What odd, though, is that Chloe is the most QUIET and SHY child in the whole class… except with regard to Elizabeth, who she tries pretty hard to control. The teachers are always keeping an eye on that in class, like Catie’ teachers are doing, and finding situations where the girls have to work in different parts of the classroom so Elizabeth can make some choices for herself. Chloe is super sweet, but she wants to be the one in charge.

    I agree with Lizard– as long as you and the teachers remind her that he is the boss of herself, and don’t make a big deal out of it, then she’ll get it in her own time. You’re handling it as well as you can. And hey, could be worse, Allie could be telling her to smoke pot and turn tricks. She’ll have that friend someday.

  3. Also, Elizabeth came home and started telling US, “You’re not the boss of me!” when we told her to do things. Um, I’m not sure that’s what the teachers actually told you, kid.

    And even funnier, every time she says it I get the theme music by They Might Be Giants from that old TV show Malcolm in the Middle.

  4. She is *SO* adorable!

    Thank you for nipping the Allie thing in the bud. A lot of kids will just do what they’re told by whoever tells them to do it, and then we grow up not knowing how to think for ourselves. You’re an awesome mom. 🙂
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  5. OMG she is adorable. My DD, who is 3 1/2 is Miss. Bossy. I don’t know how to curb it. We tell her all the time to stop bossing people around, and to let them do what they want or let their Mommy’s and Daddy’s tell them how to do things. Really I swear. It started about the time we had DD #2 and Cookie decided that she needed to be a good big sister and tell Jelly what to do. I am pretty sure there is correlation there. Does little Miss. Allie have any siblings? Cookie’s bossiness is actually a mimicking of things I say to her. “we don’t wear shoes in the house.” or “you need to wash your hands after playing outside.” Then I hear her say the same things to others…including Hubby! We have to inform her that Mommy’s and Daddy’s tell the rules not her. I am glad you are teaching Catie positive ways on how to stand up for herself. Our big problem is a little boy in Cookie’s class who is a bully, he is the only one from class that was there last year. Daily Cookie comes back with “L” hit me or pushed me off the zip line. So we have to teach her how to stop being bossy, but also stand up for herself. Can you believe it starts sooooo early?

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