What To Do When… They’re An Angel At School but A Terror At Home

This topic is often brings the most frustration out in a parent.  You know that your child can behave because he’s a perfect angel at school. You know it’s in there somewhere…that sweet, well-behaved child that follows rules without attitude or does his chores without being asked. The one that does all his homework because he enjoys it and brings your breakfast in bed every morning….okay okay

“So where is this angel that the teachers keep telling me about?”

Let me get really “counselor-y” on you. It’s a good sign that your kid is doing this at home. It means he feels comfortable with you.

Ugh. I just felt all the parents roll their eyes.

Hear me out- Has something ever gone terribly wrong at work but you grit your teeth while you smile through the frustration? Then you get home and you snap at your partner for something not remotely important. Yeah, we all have. You can’t go off on your boss and think you’ll still have a job. But you CAN take it out on someone else that is safer that won’t leave.

The same applies to kids. I’m not saying that it’s not frustrating. It’s awful! However, if your kid was terrified of you, they probably wouldn’t be doing this. ***We do not want kids to be afraid of their parents….before someone gets any ideas.

Now what to do about it.

  1. Keep yourself calm. Nothing will be accomplished if you start yelling and crying with your kid out of frustration.
  2. Find some empathy. Now…search…..deep down….find some scrap of love and understanding…There it is! *phew* I know that was hard. Sometimes it feels impossible to feel empathy when World War 3 has broken out in your house because you wouldn’t let them play on the tablet for ten hours in a row.
  3. Now, consider that your child has a life well beyond what you know or experience. He sees the world differently than you. Not just because he’s a kid, but because he’s a different person. Maybe something small happened at school that seriously hurt their feelings. Maybe he’s been feeling like he has no control in his life and he’s had enough! Try to realize that your child doesn’t have the same vocabulary or emotional intelligence to express what is going with him emotionally.
  4. Set firm boundaries. Since we’ve established that you do still love your child, it’s still not okay for them to treat you this way. So whatever rule or limit you have set, stick with you. NO bargining. NO letting it slide. Please remember you can be firm and loving at the same time.
  5. Revisit the issue when everyone is calm. It’s easy to just move on with life after everyone is calm, but it is critically important to talk about what happened with your kid. Talk about healthy ways to discussed what’s going on, but most importantly, listen to your kid. They might not (probably don’t) have a beautiful response to why they did what they did. But, when you open up that door for communication, they will learn that 1) it’s safe to come to you, even when I mess up 2) we don’t ignore issues in this family 3) if I am treated with respect, I will treat others with respect.
  6. Talk to a counselor. If this is happening regularly and you are starting to feel hopeless, you don’t have to settle for that! Counseling helps work with kids on emotional regulation, increasing expressing emotions in a healthy way, and repairing family connections.

Finally, give yourself and your kid some grace. No one is the perfect parent and not everything that comes out of your mouth is the picture of calmness and wisdom. Know that you can always work on, repair and improve your relationship with your kid.

Until next time—  xoxo Kristen