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Cor domum means "heart of the home"; we believe that the family is the heart of every home, and we want to become a resource for families who want to discover the joy of family life.

Your host, parenting author Katie Trudeau, navigates families through life, guided by gentle parenting and natural living practices. 

Jan 16, 2017

In this episode, Katie talks about why kids save their worst behavior for their parents and what you can do in those situations.


My oldest son had just come home from a playdate with his Memaw. As my mom dropped him off, she beamed at how good he was. He was polite and chipper and chatty. They played, did arts and crafts, and went out for lunch. It was the perfect day and my boy had been angelic. 

So you can imagine my surprise when he started running and screaming and having a meltdown. My mom stared in disbelief and said, "Wow. He was so good today." 

I knew what was happening, though. I had seen it before. The dreaded I-was-good-for-other-people-but-now-I'm-gonna-meltdown-for-Mommy syndrome. What gives? I want to be greeted with kisses and hugs - not meltdowns! 

But here's the thing: being good is exhausting

Being good and following the rules and listening to the adults is hard work. Exhausting work. It takes so much energy for young kids to be "on their best behavior" that when they come home, they are just over it. 

And my son hit the nail on the head. I set him on his bed, thinking that some quiet time with a book or a cuddle could recharge his mood. I asked him, "What's wrong? Why did you spiral out of control?" 

His answer made my jaw drop: "I'm all behaved out. Being good was hard work and I'm really tired." 

Of course, it was. 

So I tucked my little guy in and he got some very needed rest. 

Three things to know about why kids reserve their worst behavior for us

If, at first, it hurts yours feelings that your son or daughter saves all their best behavior for others and then unleashes the dragon on you, fear not. Here's some helpful info to remember.
  • It's normal! Simply knowing you are not alone can help to alleviate the frustration (even just a little bit).
  • Your child trusts you: Child psychologists are quick to note that a child who feels secure enough to reveal his true self feels unconditionally loved by that parent. It's as if a child is thinking, "Well, I know Daddy loves me no matter what. I need to vent, I need to just let it all out and I know Daddy loves me anyway." Think of it as a compliment. 
  • Make the adjustment easier for your child. Maybe some alone time in his/her room is what your child would like as he works through his emotions. Other children may desire a parent's company. Sometimes just physically sitting next to each other is enough. Let your child lead. 

Does your child behave well for others and save the crazy stuff for you? What do you do? How do you make the transition easier for your child? 
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