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He’s an angel… when I’m not there!

Her teacher tells you: “It’s a pleasure to take care of a child who listens so well” and you refrain from answering “Whose child? Mine?”

Your child’s discipline has reached an all-time low. He only understands what suits him, he never does as you ask and he argues about everything. Yet, his grandparents find him polite, his educators love him and his teachers don’t even understand what you are talking about! Although it reassures you on their opinion of the way you raise your children, you would like to understand why he never listens at home! Here is food for thoughts.

Comfort

Children are pretty much like us, you know. Just like we take off our shoes and socks and wear more comfortable clothes at home, our children too like to get comfy. At home, they are free from the strict schedules of school and daycare, they are not afraid of being told off in public anymore and they can manage their time as they please. They find their books, their toys, their bedroom and their favourite snacks. Also, the people that they love the most are at home. His parents, brothers and sisters are the only ones to whom he can say whatever he wants without risking to hear “You’re not my friend anymore” or “I’ll write a note to your parents”.

All this was true until you arrived with your instructions, your healthy food and your great lessons. It is when your parental obligations are conflicting with his need for freedom that he will oppose you. Troubles in school can also worsen the situation. It is no excuse to talk to you in a disrespectful manner but keep in mind that his comfort is a proof of trust and love. It is not by getting angry that you will see an improvement. If you want him to be an angel at home too, talk to your “little devil” gently and kindly and try to remember that he is a wonderful person and if you are persuasive enough, he will understand how happy you would be if he improved his behaviour in your presence. A child who can count on his parents will want to deserve their approval even if you must remind him that there are rules now and again.

Friendship or authority?

At daycare, the roles are clearly defined. Other children are equal playmates who have the same rights and duties as your child. Educators and teachers, for their part, give instructions, prepare the schedule for the day and decide where your child will sit. They have an absolute authority.

Parents, on the other hand, are everything. They play with kids, make jokes, kiss and hug, give choices and are generally flexible in terms of schedules. They also make appointments, respond for their child's actions, attend meetings and determine what should and what should not be done at home and in society. This multitasking, combined with the comfort mentioned above, gives the impression that children can push your limits. That is why they can give you headaches. Fortunately, it's nothing that cannot be solved with clear instructions. Rest assured that being strict doesn’t compromise the complicity that makes you such a versatile parent.

Strong emotions

The last factor that should be taken into account is the boundless love that your child has for you. He just needs a rough patch or a period of fatigue to react badly to criticism and comments. Sometimes when you tell him to go to his room because he has done something wrong, he can do something completely different, like going to the kitchen or sitting with his little brother. Although this manoeuvre looks like an affront, he may simply want to do something that would make you happy. Maybe he just wanted to pick up his plate or play with his brother to show how sorry he is for what he has done. Unfortunately, these situations are often ambiguous and mystify parents but he acts like that because he wants to erase his mistake and if he wants to please you, it is likely that your opinion matters more to him than that of the teacher. If this is the case, you can just remind him that you love him very much, but he still has to go in his room.

By Anne Costisella

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