Why is my child perfectly behaved for everyone else but me

Why is my child perfectly behaved for everyone else but me

Many of us have learned social manners – to say “Please”, “Thank you”, “Sorry”. This is learned behaviour which we teach our children. As parents we role-model many behaviours, which our children learn within the home environment. The home is a place where children feel comfortable in expressing their feelings freely, whether it be joyous happiness or outbursts of anger. When children are engaged in school or preschool, they do not want to appear too different from others, they want to fit in. Peer pressure kicks in. If a child misbehaves, there are consequences which teachers apply.

Teachers have an authoritative style that kids will behave in class and carry out a specific instruction. This is a common complaint of parents that their child is “perfectly behaved for the teacher but not for me”. Teachers care very much about each pupil but their attachment to each student is not as strong as a mother’s attachment. Mostly, it is the mums who are the primary carers, mums who give unconditional love to their children. When your child expresses a challenging emotion towards you it is because you are the safe place for them to articulate a range of difficult emotions. Talk with your child about their feelings in a quiet time. It’s okay to have a range of emotions, but it’s how they respond to others with those emotions which is important for them to learn. Reflect back to your child how you think they are feeling. Don’t try to solve their problems, this can come later if necessary. The important thing is that your child feels heard.

As parents, we can give too many instructions or lots of information to our child at once. Try to reduce the amount of talking, so your child can hear the really important stuff and they won’t feel overwhelmed with information. Less talk reduces the temperature in the home, allowing each person to feel heard.

Consider also, your child needs to understand expectations on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour within the home environment, eg. slamming doors, no throwing objects inside the house, sit at table for dinner. If your child chooses to over-step the boundaries you have established, then provide consequences to not following those rules. Using techniques from ‘123 Magic’ parenting course, choose one behaviour that you want your child to stop doing. An example could be whinging. Discuss with your child, in a quiet time, that if she starts whinging, you will count to three (allow five seconds between each count) and if she does not stop whinging, she will go to a timeout area or use another suitable consequence such as withhold a computer game for a day (depending on the seriousness of the misdeed). Be prepared to follow through with the consequence.

Consider, too, who is in charge in the family. Are you in charge, or does the family revolve around a child’s misbehavior, or a possible neediness for attention? A family is a team with a hierarchy – the parents are the coaches and managers of the family team. The team does not revolve around one player, but work together for the good of the family unit.


If you would like to learn more about understanding and supporting your child’s development, please contact us on 9334 0111 or connect@thenortherncentre.org.au to arrange to talk with one of our experienced Family Workers in a confidential setting.