Why is my child well-behaved at school but not at home?

Many parents find their child acts like a little angel at school and saves all their bad behavior for home. Why does this happen and what can you do to encourage model behavior at both school and home?

21  Answers

0 33

I think we can all say we've experienced this. This answer coming from a fairly strict parent (whom doesn't always succeed) I've always been told that expectations are very high at school. They are expected to sit quietly, be respectful to their peers and teacher, to keep it together for up to 8 hours on their very very best behavior. Rather they succeed or not a fully behaving there, school is a stressful environment. So needless to say, the moment they step home it is their "safe zone". They aren't judged or expected to sit quietly, or behave in the same manner as they do at school. They are loved unconditionally and unfortunately we get to see the "comfortable" side of them. It's time for them to release and unwind. Though it may not always be pretty, in my opinion I would much rather see the dark side than for them to show it in school. If they are succeeding and their teachers have positive feelings about them and they are respectful to others, then I am doing my job correctly at home.

0 15

I agree!!!

8 1

Because teachers have clear boundaries in class.... and clear expectations in class....and clear consequences in class. If you did that at home you'd see the same child they see in the classroom. "Make your yes mean yes, and your no mean no" No matter what the reaction. Don't say "no, you cant have that" then 10 minutes after saying it, during a tantrum, say "ok, here! You can have it just stop crying!" Never give in.... your yes is yes and they need to be able to count on that. And when you say "no".... its NO... now, and it 10 minutes... its still NO! They should be able to count on that too.
NEVER say "don't make me count to 10!".... just say "I'm going to count to 10, you must _____ before I get to 10 OR you'll be in time out for ___ minutes" (or whatever your discipline is) Then start counting! I have a friend who does this and says "ok, 1, 2, 3, 4... DONT MAKE ME COUNT BELLA!!! 1, 2, 3, 4... YOU BETTER GET ON IT, I'm COUNTING!!! 1, 2, 3, 4!" really??? does she think this will EVER work? no... Bella cant count on one thing she says and is so confused by this "game" of pretend counting.
She obviously has great self control at school... so you KNOW she's capable of having it. She's choosing to act out at home because there are no clear guidelines for her to follow.... kids aren't great at reading between the lines... make your rules/boundaries/guidelines very clear.. and stick with them. Good luck.. these are the days that, if done well and consistent, can pave the way to having a very well behaved child! :) Hang in there and be consistent! :)
Always keep in mind... you aren't supposed to be her BFF... but MOM... never confuse those two things. Your job is to raise a young lady with good manners, who is kind, generous, smart, pleasant, among other things... not to be your BFF. I feel like parents are forgetting their role in their children's lives. Sad but true.

0 7

Kids can t be good all if the time, I can trust my kids at other homes and school but at home they fight and answer me back they re 11, 8 & 7. I d rather it that way as they have to vent somehow! They re fine and well behaved and well mannered most of the time but that s kids for you!!! Give them a break, they re constantly stimulated and entertained and sometimes want to chill and do nothing! I remind myself what it was like as a kid to be constantly nagged after school so try not to do the same,,, I do slip though!! Good luck everyone! It gets better, just focus on the good!!

45 20

Well, one thing: at school they have consequences that are consistently enforced, and enforced before the behavior gets out of control. Does that happen at home?... It should.

0 6

Children make choices just like adults do . My daughter is an honor roll , close to perfect child at school , then comes home to act like a monster and loaded with disrespect . Repetition and punishment are the keys . It is getting better . She is leanring she can not disrespect me just b/c I am mom . I ask her why she does this and her answer was, your mom . When I factor in hurt feelings and disappointment I saw an improvment . Games and ipods have been taken away and old fashioned activities like swings sets , bikes , coloring and books have taken over . It has gotten better .

0 15


12 22

same here, I have a 6 year old in Kindergarten and she is awesome at school and doesn't listen to a word I say at home. I asked her why and she said "I'm afraid I'll get kicked out of school, and I don't want to get kicked out." haha I'm not sure how I should have responded to that. I didn't let her know that it would take a lot to get kicked out. I just nodded. haha I guess she knows I wouldn't kick her out of the house for not picking up her toys. :/

26 8

Kids do this when they begin to realize what societies expectations are. I also believe it is easier for a teacher to use peer pressure in a group of 20 kids (if george continues to disrupt the class we will not have time to play) than it is for a parent with a few children. Also that type of "disipline" would not work as well at home because the child would more likely feel alienated than motivated. You have to begin by questioning what your expectations are and what you "put up with". If your child is disrespectful to you and you do not have a consistant expectation for them not to, or you ignore the behavior, or even give in to it, you are telling your child that it is ok to behave that way. A teacher would never send this message to a child because they would then have class of 20 out of control students. The first thing is to model the behavior you expect (are you impatient and wondering why your child throws a tantrum when they have to wait?). Next is to talk with your child about your family values and expectations (we dont use words like that because they are disrespectful/hurtful) And finally, if those have not worked, a simple and clear message that the behavior will not be tolerated. After a few weeks of my 5 year olds attitude spiraling out of control, I sat him down, explained my expectations and told him the concequence would be a time out with no warnings. I remind him of the expectations at the first sign of disrespect because I know at his age it is difficult to have impulse control. Obviously though, forms of disipline will vary depending on age and family.

6 3

I have two children one my son is well behaved at school and home. my daughter however is great at school but difficult at home, never listening or doing as she is told. We have a reward chart so we can praise the good behaviour and a time out zone to sit out bad behaviour. However it is far easier to ignor the bad behavour to a degree as she is only 3 and I am sure as she gets older she will grow out of the tantrums as my son did. However my children know if they don't pick up their toys, if I have to do it they go in the bin end of. At the end of the day its about following through and being strong, and staying in control. Which most of my friends kids seem to be the ones who are in control of their parents which is wrong!

6 7

I had a neighbor who did not follow through on threats of discipline at home where at school, the teachers followed through. CHildren need well defined boundaries and a parent who is not afraid to follow through when they give warnings of punishment e.g. time out, taking away a priviledge etc. Also, her kids loved her, but had no respect for her. Kids do watch your behavior, which they will follow more so than what you tell them. If you lie, cheat or steal in front of them, then punish them for doing the same, you have no grounds or basis for respect. Be a parent who is consistent in all that you represent before your child. They need the boundaries held high and not just when you feel like it or are having a good day. Be a parent, not a friend to your child. Friends sometimes dont hold each other accountable. They have enough friends at school. Just a few ideas to add. Don't know what the real reason is for the misbehavior, but sometimes too, kids will NOT be ignored. They will do whatever to get the attention they so desire, even if it's bad behavior.

2 1

OMG! My daughter is a model student in her Kindergarten class she made star of the month this month. However, when she comes home she really acts out not mean but I have to tell her things 10 x's to get her to do something. She doesn't cooperate like her chores and she whines, cries and throws tantrums.

0 15

I know what ya mean.

1 20

Jamie Pannell, couldn't of said it better myself.spot on.

3 17

I have this issue with my almost 9 year old son. I hope someone has a solution!

18 3

My son is the EXACT same way!! When I go to the parent-teacher conferences, the teacher always tells me how good a kid I have and how polite. I just look at her & say " are we talking about the same kid?" I guess I should be relieved that he doesn't act up in school but I do think it would be nice if he was well behaved at home as well! HAHA

21 0

Wow, Candy. I have a six year old daughter, and you comment could have come out of my mouth. I have been on the teacher side of the equation in the past, and am now experiencing it from the parent side. I do know about the need to clear boundaries and firm consequences, and I do try to implement them. Most of my problems with my daughter come up when we are doing American homeschool. (We live in a foreign country, and she goes to a local Kindergarten for the social aspect of life, and to fit into the culture here, but for now, we do both local school and homeschool as the education system here leaves somewhat to be desired.) Anyway, we invited a friend of hers to join her for school, thinking it would be more fun. Sometimes it is. Sometimes, my daughter whines and protests any attention that I have to give to her friend. The portions of homeschool that involve read-aloud books and other one-on-one time go very well. But I need to take specific and firm steps to teacher my daughter to share attention. (She is an only child.)

4 5

wow I have a child that does the opposite. He's a perfectly well behaved child at home and every setting except school.

15 12

My little one is a little wonder at school, but can be at home when he wants to. I can't offer any advise as to how to improve home behaviour, but in my opinion all children are naughty at some time and I would rather it was at home instead of school.


The suggestion to have clear boundaries that you stick to at home makes perfect sense. For me, it's easier said than done. I'm a teacher, so when I get home, my patience has already been worn thin by other children and I'm utterly exhausted. All I want to do is have some peace and quiet when I get home and enjoy the time that I have with my own little one. (She's 3.)
So I'm guilty of being that parent that gives in to avoid tantrums. When I've tried to "stick with it," her tantrums last as long as 3 hours. If I made the conscious commitment to NEVER give in and "re-train" her, I wonder how long I would have to endure the endless tantrums before she starts to get the point.

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0 16

I have a 10 year old step son who is great at school and hitting all his trargets but at home is horrid. Im 22weeks pregnant and he has raised a fist to me tries to kick me in the stomach and tried pulling me down staris. We have tried everything to stop his violent outburst. Lying. Bullying of the younger children in our house but nothing works with him. Im at my whits end and fear for my safty with him

93 0

Hi Kerri. Perhaps he needs some one on one relationship building time with his dad 1/2 hour every day where he can wind down learn to talk about his frustrations and anxieties and some role modelling can be demonstrated. Additionally or alternatively a psychologist may be able to help identify the issues surrounding the behaviour and possible solutions to address it. There is a book called The Highly Intuitive Child by Catherine Crawford and a section (page 32) called Challenges at School for the Intuitive Child basically describing how some children put so much energy into behaving well and processing all the everyday stress in the classroom that they fall apart or act out all the stress once they get home. I don't know if this would be relevant to your situation or not. It may help to find out if there is anything going on at school outside of the classroom situation. Or maybe he has a clear understanding of the expectations of him at school but is unclear as to where he belongs emotionally and the expectations at home which causes anxiety leading to aggression.

93 0

Perhaps because they feel loved safe and secure at home and are therefore able to release built up tension caused by anxieties, stress and fatigue or frustration in an environment where they are loved for who they are.

0 0

I have the exact opposite problem my kid is better behaved at home but lacks appropriate behavior outside. He keeps clowning around and acts silly when he is outside and gets into trouble. He keeps saying that a lot of kids say he is annoying and feels left out. He won't listen to me in a public setting. I feel like he loosens up completely
when he is outside to the point of not able to differentiate between good and bad choices. He is brilliant academically and otherwise. He however has impulse control issues at school. Any thoughts?

2 0

my son started preschool and hes very shy when it comes to mingling with others which ithink is totally normal to go through..its his first in a school setting so i totally understand but once we get in the house hes back talking..hes not listening and just cant seem to sit still for dinner time or anything..he listens when he feels like it or because he might be rewarded..we always praise him especially when he does something good..i get really frustrated some times when it just gets too much..i try to stay calm and patient and try to distract him with doing something else but sometimes i just dont know how to deal with it..helpp!!

13 17

I don't now but my child does the same thing at school.She mean at home,have to punsh her at home.And when some body come over she sweet as can be,but by the they leave she go right back being means again?

Sign your friend Diane

4 18

Discipline techniques and consistency are not unimportant, but they are "icing on the cake," not the primary thing. Anyone who thinks that her own good parenting style is responsible for her child's good behavior is a naive parent of a child who has never really been challenged! I have two children: One has always been an angel at home and trouble at school; the other is an outstanding student and unmanageable at home! Bryan Post talks about a "window of tolerance." When a child (who has been taught how to behave) is comfortable then he performs well; but when that child (or anyone of any age!) is stressed beyond what he can manage, then you see misbehaviors and inappropriate coping behaviors. For my child with ADHD, school is too stimulating and stressful, so he has issues there; home is quiet and comfortable, and we have no problems. My other child is sociable, intelligent and thrives on the structure and schedule of school, so he does well there; at home he is "at loose ends," quickly becomes bored, and provokes problems. Telling him that his behavior won't be tolerated -- while necessary -- is insufficient, because it just increases the pressure on him, and has a contrary effect. I have to keep him busy, and rely on "outside forces" (peer pressure, other adult authority figures). With him, discipline is very dynamic and situational.

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