Why Do Kids Behave Worse When Mum is Around?
Every evening was a struggle. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING could trigger her complaining or even a tantrum. Dinner time, bath time, bedtime or even a spot on her shirt could be a reason to have a fit. She would do exactly the opposite of what I asked, just to see my reaction. Playing reverse psychology games was something I had to master. But it was exhausting for both of us. I could not understand why such behaviour occured.
The same story when visiting grandparents. They were over the moon with their adorable granddaughter. Oh, how well she listens, and eats and plays. They would use all sorts of superlatives to describe her behaviour. But as soon as I showed up, she would be nice for a few minutes and then turn into this blood-thirsty little monster (O.K. I may be exaggerating here a little but you get the picture).My parents would comment with “She didn’t act like this when you were gone” or “This is not like her, she only does it with you”.
During the day, we are all faced with difficult and stressful situations. At nursery, preschool or babysitter, kids are busy all day long. Learning new things, playing and interacting with other kids. They have to obey rules and follow instructions all day long. This leaves a limited space for expressing frustrations and other negative emotions accumulating during the day.Then the “volcano” of emotions errupts as soon as a mum comes.
This comes down to the fact that the bond between the kids and parents or carers is the strongest which makes them feel safer. Parents love their children unconditionally, offer support and understanding. Therefore, kids are more likely to show all range of emotions and “let out” the negativity and frustrations that they have bottled up.
This is not an unusual behaviour. As adults we do the same thing. We follow social rules and hold back certain emotions in front of people whom we don’t know very well or may be unsure how they would react. But we are more eager to unleash our anger on our close ones as we feel safer to do so.
According to Reader’s Digest, “Kids push boundaries, have meltdowns, and are so much worse around their parents because they feel safe and secure with their parents.”
As parents, our job is to provide the safe place for our kids to express their emotions. Guide them, help them understand and name the emotions they experience. A two-year-old is not able to explain how their day was, let alone explain why they are feeling “on edge”.
How can we deal with this behaviour in a positive way?
As a teacher, I often see parents picking their kids up from school too busy with their mobile phones in their hands to interact with their kids. I made it a priority to put all distractions away to allow us to have some quality time together. No phones, no TV. Sometimes we sat and cuddled, other times played together. This made a massive difference and her behaviour started improving.A small adjustment in our routine can make a big difference in our life.
The quality time spent together, for example talking about events which happened during the day, facilitates openness and encourages kids to sit down and try to understand their emotions. It gives us a change to explain what could be done in particular situations next time our kids are faced with a difficult choice.
I know it’s not always easy but spending time connecting with kids will help diminish the bad behaviour when mum is around.
I’m a working mum, a chocolate lover and a stubborn wife who is finding ways to live a more fulfilling life.