Why is it that children behave better when others are around and don’t throw as many fits when the “other parent” comes home from work?
One thing that gets to me is that sometimes Livi behaves better for her dad than me. We might have had a rough day, but as soon as my husband comes home, she is like a new child. I usually let him know how things are going by sending emails and pictures and I tell him when we are having a rough day. So when he gets home and she is all smiles and hugs, he just looks at me like I imagine things. And boy, does he ever gloat when I tell him that she changed the minute he walked through the door.
So what is this all about? I just cannot imagine nor accept that all my love and hard work results in tantrums, yet daddy gets all the hugs and kisses. So I turned to my trusted friend, the internet. (How did they ever raise children without it?) Sure enough, there is a good explanation for it.
According to what I read, this behavior is perfectly normal for children her age. And better yet, it is most likely a sign that Livi and I actually bonded really well.
“The more comfortable a child is with their parent or primary caregiver, the more they act out, because they trust you’ll be there for them no matter what they do.” (babycenter.com)
“The primary caregiver is generally the person with whom a child feels most comfortable expressing his strong feelings. … Acting up may actually be a sign of how safe he feels with you.” (parents.com)
That actually explains a lot. It is wonderful to know that she feels safe and comfortable with me. Really! I just wish she would find another way to show me her trust.
There is also another aspect to this behavior, one you may notice if you sent your child to daycare for example. “Your child works hard to hold it together all day in an environment where he’s not totally comfortable,” … “Then he gets home and lets it all out.” (babycenter.com)
We recently had a chance to test this when we had overnight guests whom Livi had never met before. Initially, she kept her distance and even cried because she was a bit scared in the beginning, which apparently is not unusual for high need babies. Eventually, however, she did interact and play with our guests as long as one of us was by her side.
Once they left, it did not take long and she acted out, was crankier, and even a bit aggressive, something we rarely see with her. I guess, you could call that “letting it all out.”
Still, it is nice to know why she is acting this way. Next time she throws a fit, I will try to remember that it is all out of love. Or at least I will try not get too worked up over it.
Have you noticed something similar with your kids? How do you feel when they behave better for others? And what do you do?