Ban Bossy?!

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Have you seen the, "Ban Bossy" campaign? Over the past couple of days, I've read many articles about this campaign, and trying to work through its message.  Since I am a mother raising a little girl [together with my husband], I thought it was worth understanding what our daughter would gain by banning the word bossy.  

From what I comprehend, the overarching message behind Ban Bossy is to empower our little girls to be leaders, without having the negative connotation of the word bossy.  One thought in this effort is to ban the word 'bossy' when our little girls display leadership.  My first thoughts...why?!  

While I understand Ban Bossy's attempt to draw attention to the unequal treatment of boys and girls when leadership is displayed, is banning a word the solution?  When you hear the word bossy, do you equate that to negative behavior?  How many times have you seen your child be overly authoritative? What did you do to remedy the situation?  Is there a difference between how you managed your son compared to your daughter?


Image from BanBossy.com

When I began to answer a few of the questions above, I have found myself interpreting the word bossy as a behavior that should be corrected. Meaning, I've seen my daughter boss her friend around during a play date. Initially, I tried to register her behavior simply as her knowing what she wanted to do while her friend visited.  In fact, it did display a form of leadership.  But, soon after I found myself wanting to correct my daughter's behavior.  Why?  I thought that she was being bossy and I equated that behavior as a negative.  

My solution included explaining to my daughter to be more inclusive in the decision making during her play time with her friend.  Ultimately, I guided her in shifting her thoughts to where she told her friend what she thought they should do next, and asked if that's something she'd like to play next.  This was certainly a much better outcome than my daughter telling her friend that they were done playing this and were now going to play that, etc.  I don't know. While I felt discomfort in watching my child be bossy, I wanted her to feel empowered to plan how she spent her play time.  The key was explaining to her that being receptive to her friend's ideas doesn't necessarily negate her plan.  


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While I can't help but think that the ban campaign is more-so to raise awareness in how we parent our girls, I just don't think banning words will yield the results claimed.  In fact, all that'll happen is that another word will take its place.  Truth be told, sometimes life isn't fair.  Sometimes people say and do things that aren't so nice.  Sometimes we're called names that rattles our confidence.  It's life, and I've always believed that one of my duties as a Mom, is to teach my daughter how to cope with life's disappointments.  It doesn't mean to teach her to cower and hide.  Nor does it have to mean inaction. It does, however, mean to help her develop the ability to work through all that life brings [cope]. 

Although my life experience of over 4+ decades has brought me a level of confidence, my 8+ years of parenting has rattled it all over again.  Is Ban Bossy a positive message attempting to support our young girls and their development?  Yes, in terms of empowering our girls to be leaders.  Does banning a word support empowering our girls to be leaders?  I don't think it does.  

What do you think?  

Thanks for reading!

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8 Comments :

  1. I love that you addressed this! I just heard about this Ban Bossy thing just the other day, and to me, it honestly seems a bit silly. I've never thought "wow that girl is being such a leader, what a little bossy thing". I see bossy as being rude, trying to run the show, like a negative. Being a leader is something different. I tell my son not to be bossy if he's being rude and throwing a fit, but I encourage him when he actually is showing leadership. I don't know, I don't think this is making much sense haha. I just think the whole thing seems a bit silly to me.

    Caitlin

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    1. I think the whole banning of the word bossy is silly too. I'd like to believe that the effort behind all of this is to be more conscious of how we parent…especially when it comes to our girls. If they are being bossy, it's best to explain to them the behavior and correct it without making them feel that they are not empowered, ya'know?!

      Thanks for visiting!
      -Danielle

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  2. Some great reflections. I think they went with "ban bossy" because it is catchy, but I agree that the idea seems more to raise awareness than to actually try to ban the word. I think it is interesting to try and switch the genders in a given situation and to say whether you could call a boy bossy then too, but as a teacher of eight and nine year olds, I think there is plenty of bossy behavior across boys and girls that isn't worth supporting! (Seen on Saturday Sharefest.)

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    1. Thanks Katie! I think you hit on something in that it's a catchy phrase…that's what is capturing people's attention. It's almost working against them (on some level) because people can't get beyond 'banning a word'…ya'know?!

      Thanks for visiting!
      -Danielle

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  3. Hi Danielle, I'm here from the SITS linkup. I wanted to write about this myself...Actually agree with your initial reaction of "why?!?" Seems like the campaign to ban the word bossy came out of left field. Anyway, bossy definitely has a negative connotation, but I don't think it's that serious. I'm not a mother, but are our young girls really in this much distress over the word "bossy"?

    Kenya

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    1. Hi Kenya! The campaign definitely came out of left field (for me at least). With regard to banning the word, I don't think it's that serious in nature…there are other words we can make an argument for to have banned. I just think that they are trying to raise awareness into how we guide our children when we find them being 'bossy.'

      Thanks for visiting!
      -Danielle

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  4. I only recently heard about this ban as well and don't know all the facts about it. I should also say that I don't have children in my life. When did bossy become a term for only little girls. Do little boys not behave that way as well. And if we shouldn't call little girls bossy, why is it okay to call little boys bossy. I agree that if we remove this word, we will only replace it with another word. I do think it is great that you talked to your daughter about her behavior. She can listen to what you say an then pick a course of action. Thanks for sharing. Visiting from SITS.

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    1. Hi Meg! I agree, you can see this behavior in both boys and girls. And I think the campaign is trying to raise awareness of how girls are treated differently than boys when this behavior is displayed. They lose some of their steam by trying to catch our attention by banning a word. To me that's where the argument gets a little lost.

      Thanks for visiting!
      -Danielle

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