Monday, January 22, 2018

Why Do Children Save Their Worst Behavior For Their Parents?

Why can my child do well in public, but falls apart as soon as we are in the vehicle or at home alone?

This is a question that plagues many parents with children who have behavioral difficulties. Your home looks like a battle ground but when you are in the presence of others, your child presents normally. It is enough to make you wonder if you are slightly crazy or worse, maybe you are the cause of your child's behavior problems.

I can't count how many times our children have fallen apart as soon as we got in the vehicle, sometimes the doors aren't even closed before the screaming and kicking starts. Recently someone stopped by our house and the children held it together until the person was out the door. Then all their pent up emotions burst forth. It was almost comical how our house could go from quiet to chaos in moments...all because our guest walked out the door.

If this happens at your house, let me assure you it is a GOOD thing, not a fun thing, but a good one nonetheless. Ever think about the fact that is it with those you love that you tend to be the grumpiest? Why is that? Is it because you don't care how they feel? No, it is because it is with those you love that you feel safest. You know your family will love you even at your worst. Our children are the same way.

Your children know that mom and dad are safe. They trust that you as their parents are strong enough to handle their big feelings. They don't trust Grandma, your neighbor or their friends enough to show their big feelings so they bottle them up until they are with the people that have proved trustworthy. Not that other people aren't trustworthy but in our children's minds, and rightly so, mom and dad are safest.

Three of our children struggle in this area. With one child, what others see, is what we see at home. People think this child is a handful and I just smile because in all honesty, this child is one of our easiest. Two of our children are insecure enough that they present fairly well in public but look out when no one beside's our immediate family is around!

So if your child works to hold it together in public but falls apart at home, don't criticize yourself you aren't doing anything wrong. In fact it means just the opposite, your child obviously trusts that you are strong enough to handle his big feelings and that is an accomplishment.

*This post does not hold true if your child has RAD. These children present well in public because they are trying to get other adults on their side. Nor does it mean that your child who acts out in public as well as at home is not secure. This post is about a specific group of children, those who care what others think but are not physically and/or emotionally healthy enough to hold it together all the time.

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