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Think about that time when you are leaving your kids with your husband, perhaps when you have to go shopping or to the salon. You instruct your kids to be good, not disturb Daddy, and go through their activity books. You also tell them not to roll on the floor, scribble on the walls, or ask for ice-cream before dinner. This is usually when the father says – “Oh, you’re too strict. The little ones are perfect angels, we get along very well.” Come evening, as soon as your husband opens the door, the kids are ALL OVER you, demanding chocolate, complaining about siblings, wetting their pants.
Your husband goes on about how the kids were nice and disciplined all day, and somehow your presence changed everything. YOU are to be blamed, somehow. We bet this has happened to you too. Unofficial statistics suggest – kids are 100 times naughtier with moms, than they are with dads! But WHY? Why does a toddler prefer one parent? Well, Kate, a mommy blogger with two kids, has hit upon the EXACT reason this happens.
It so happens that Kate’s kids are completely fine with their daddy all day. But the moment they see Kate, something happens to them and they start being naughty little monkeys! Every now and then, her husband tells her, “They were fine all day with me, but the second they saw you, they lost it, Kate! I don’t understand!”
So, why does it happen? What explains why a child acts different with one parent? Kate recently shared the reason on her blog Kate Surfs, and boy, we are completely in agreement!
The Actual Reason a Toddler Behaves Differently With Mom
The reason behind this is emotional. It has to do with a basic human emotion kids know only too well: love, and a sense of security and relaxation in the presence of the one you love. Of course, kids love both their parents, which is why they enjoy spending time and doing fun things with Daddy. But with Mommy, they feel a sense of ‘letting go’ that they feel with nobody else. They can be just the way they want, and express everything they feel, and mommy will somehow put everything right. As Kate puts it:
“YOU, mama, are their safe place. YOU are the place they can come to with all of their problems. YOU, dear mama, are a garbage disposal of unpleasant feelings and emotions. If a child’s been holding it together all day, in an unpleasant situation, the second they see you, they know it’s time they can finally let go. That means letting go of whatever . . . whining . . . crying . . . their bowels, etc.
If you can’t make something better . . . well, then who else can? ”
So that’s the simple reason – an emotional release that your children feel when they see you. It can be very difficult to deal with this, especially when you have had a long and tiring day. However, we need to view it as a sign of love that our kids reserve for us – a kind of no-holds-barred expression of emotion that they cannot show to anyone else, not even their dad.
Is a Child’s ‘Misbehaviour’ With Mom a Bad Sign?
There is no end to the number of people who give advice to a mother – even without being asked. Even in this situation, there are many who tell a mother that she needs to ask her child to behave, and not go wild the moment he sees her. These people see this expression of emotions or sudden tantrums with mommy as a sign of spoiled behaviour. Some even go as far as to say – “Your kids prefer their father to you. That is why they behave badly with you.”
However, what do child development experts say about this?
Rest assured – your child’s misbehaviour or naughtiness in front of you is not a bad sign. It is simply a sign that you have created a safe space for your child where he/she feels comfortable and can express her natural emotions or needs. This is a great lesson as they grow up, for every child must learn how to express their feelings without fear or inhibition. If they can experience this now, with mommy, they are likelier to also grow up more confident and expressive when they become adults.
Kate says –
“You have not spoiled your kids rotten if you are greeted at the door with whining and screaming. Oh no . . . don’t let anyone tell you that. Take it as a sign that they love you. Oh, I know . . . it drives us all bonkers-up-the-wall! They save it all for you.”
Free expression is also helpful in teaching kids about bodily functions and body awareness early in life. So, if those bowel functions go haywire even though they were perfectly potty trained during the day, don’t see it as a sign of failure. See it instead as a sign that your child feels free in front of you, and then explore how you can help him resolve the challenges he’s facing.
As for ‘preferring’ their father to you, it is true that toddlers can play favourites. Sometimes, their behaviour may come across as choosing one parent to have fun times with, and starting to cry or misbehave in the presence of the other parent.
One of our mommy bloggers, Swati Shrivastav, wonders – are dads cooler than moms? She says, “I feel jealous of him. How can it be so easy for him? With me, my daughter makes it a point to run everywhere possible, to pick up everything that is on the ground and to throw unnecessary tantrums, with him she simply lets him click her picture wearing different hats that were being sold there. You know, she is partial…”
However, if your little one is choosing to throw tantrums or be naughty when you are around, chances are he actually sees you as someone who will resolve his concerns! Both parents play a major part in bringing up a child, and one shouldn’t see such situations as competitive.
How to Handle Your Child’s Mommy-Special Tantrums
So, now that we know just why our children reserve these special tantrums and misbehaviour for us, what can be done about it? As per experts, the best approach to deal with tantrums is by distracting the child from the source of frustration and getting them to focus on some other favourite object, such as a toy or a book. Parents also need to maintain a calm approach and be patient, never showing that they are losing control of the situation. The little one must understand that mom is there for him and will help him address his frustration in a satisfactory manner.
Watch the video below to see this approach in action, in a simple, step-by-step manner.
Here are a few more tips that experts recommend for dealing with tantrums in children:
- The very fact that your child feels free to express himself in front of you is a sign that you’re doing something right. Keep up the communication channel between you and your child so he can always be assured of your support and unconditional love
- Ensure the kids get to spend more time with their father and with other family members. This will help them develop a closer understanding with them too, and they can start feeling freer around them, just as they do around you
- Use lots of hugs and kisses to calm your child. They always work brilliantly for toddlers as they express emotions physically at this age. Mommy’s hugs and kisses work like magic
- When your child throws a particularly bad tantrum in front of you, make sure you talk to them about it and help them understand the consequences. Just as positive attention is important to cement good behaviour, an inappropriate act needs to be punished. Just keep the punishment constructive and – for example, a time-out, an early bed-time, denying a longer play-time