Why is my child worse at home?
Why is it that your child can be delightful at nursery, but have regular tantrums, never do as he’s told, and beat up his little brother at home?
Letting off Steam
Assuming you know how to draw correct boundaries, the probable cause is that home is where children can relax. “Kids have to behave a certain way at nursery or school, but at home they can run around, shout, scream and play,” says Suzie Hayman. “It’s normal for a child to let off steam at home, where they feel comfortable and unconditionally loved.”
Freedom of Expression
“Another reason could be that what parents perceive as ‘bad’ behaviour is just the child’s way of expressing his or her needs. So set aside at least half an hour daily to spend with each child, reading a book together or playing their favourite game. “When a child has the need for ‘our time’ satisfied, they may not need more attention in a bad way,” Suzie says. In other words, if you make time just for them, their behaviour will improve.
Good cop, bad cop
In the good old days, Daddy was the strict disciplinarian, or bad cop. “Wait until your father comes home,” mums would warn, and children would do just that, dreading the paternal footsteps with mortal fear. But times have changed, with current wisdom stipulating that both parents need to be equally involved in family life and discipline.
“Children always thought fathers were the punishers. But that not only robs a dad of being the nice parent to have fun with, it also puts him in a position of not having a fully-rounded relationship with his own kid,” says Suzie Hayman. “Children need to learn that the same person can say yes or no, that they can love someone even if they are doing things that person doesn’t like.”
The problem is, Suzie says, that many parents get into the habit of only paying attention to their children when they are noisy and naughty, and ignoring them when they are nice and quiet. “Both of you should be the good and the bad cop, the people who have fun with your children but when necessary draw the boundaries,” she adds. “And if you spend time with your children having fun, rather than just trying to bend them to your will, you’ll find you’ll get less bad behaviour from the start.”