When a child turns two, they begin seeking independence from their parents and caregivers. A large percentage of these children are going through the "terrible twos" and this developmental phase changes the way they perceive themselves, which is expressed in their play. They go from passive to aggressive, from compliant to dominating and from easy to get along with to the "terrible twos."
They are not doing this to disturb their parents, however when a child turns two, disturbed parents are common. Bossy children are not much fun and playing with them can be difficult. They are interested in exploring the reversal of roles with the parents, including re-enacting experiences of child-discipline in ways that can be some what shocking to their parents. They are often demanding in the exactness of the required behavior in their imaginary world. When a parent cannot or does not comply with the little persons requests/demands the little person can become very upset and even more demanding.
This is where parents have been misled by television, social media and memories. Becoming compliant with a two-year-old is more difficult than working for a boss that acts like a two-year-old! As parents, we have been mistakenly led to think/believe that in order to be good parents we are required to allow our children to dominate us. Fortunately, this is not effective parenting. Remember that being a bossy Playmate-Parent is just as destructive as allowing the child to be bossy,
Play requires negotiation so that everyone who participates gets their needs met. This means that no one gets to be a bully and no one has to acquiesce.
Remember, no child playmate would allow themselves to be bossed around. So what parental behavior is effective for interacting with the child who is testing the boundaries of their "authority"?
To find an effective answer, let's observe what other children do when they encounter a pushy "make-believe" playmate? They protest and immediately try to negotiate equality and if that does not work, they quit and play something else with someone else.
When a child is being domineering. It is the responsibility of the more mature parents to learn to express disapproval at the lack of equality and to suggest a way of playing that takes the power and distributes it evenly amongst all involved.
If this does not happen, we are responsible for creating pushy, dominating, little bullies.