Saving the Good Behavior for School
Thoughts & Reflections
“How’s she doing??” A parent asks, with perhaps a bit of caution in their voice. “Wonderful!” we gush, eager to share all the latest achievements, treasured moments, kind words and actions we see during the day.
The shoulders sag with relief, but also with confusion. “We’ve been having such a hard time at home. I asked her to put on her shoes and she threw them!! That’s never happened before!”
“Why is she so good for you, but not at home?”
Of course, we want to hear that we’re on our best behavior in public, that we’re not as unpleasant to our friends as we might be with our family when we’re hungry and tired and our sister has teased us just one too many times, but why is that? Why do we save the best behavior for the outside world?
We know our families will ALWAYS love us. We can be unpleasant and still know we’re loved. In fact, it’s not unusual to test that. Will you still love me if I…?? It’s a natural part of a child’s development, to test that unconditional love, to subconsciously try and see if there’s anything you can do that would put you outside of the tribe, no longer in relationship with your Whole World, your Family.
We don’t do this on purpose. We feel safe. When we’re in public, at work or running errands, we must be pleasant. Strangers or colleagues will not love us no matter what. But at home, when blood sugar is low and tiredness is at an all-time high, the slightest affront can send us off the deep end. We test limits, and we are so incredibly assured when the relationship withstands all tests, there is no limit to love and forgiveness.
We do this even as adults, so it shouldn’t be surprising when we see this behavior in children. They somehow know, their friends won’t be endlessly patient and kind if, when asking for help with their shoes, they yell, or kick the shoes off, or run away when someone offers to help, or burst into tears when someone ties the laces “the wrong way,” or any number of things we feel we can do with our family.
At home, you feel safe. You know you are loved even when you aren’t on your best behavior. You know you can have a temper tantrum and still have a good cuddle before bed.
Because, no matter what, you are loved.
Written by:Charlotte Wood