We've all been there - arrived to pick up your child from daycare, or attended a parent-teacher interview at school, and been stunned to be told, 'your child is an absolute angel'.
"Are you sure you're talking about my child?" you catch yourself asking.
How is it that your child behaves beautifully for everyone else, but turns into a monster when they're home with you?
Well, the good news is, it means with you they feel safe.
Child psychologist Dr Heather Wittenberg explains, "Children save their best - and worst - for us, as parents. They're their 'true selves' with us. It takes energy to 'be good' and follow the rules - especially for young children - so when they get home, they let it all hang out.
"The good news is that their deepest love, affection, admiration, and goofiness are reserved for us, too," she reassures.
So, obviously, it's great to know that the meltdowns you deal with at home aren't necessarily a bad thing. They mean your kid knows you love them, no matter what, and feels secure enough with you to let down their guard and show you where they're really at.
The meltdowns also don't necessarily mean your child doesn't know how to behave when they have to - like in social settings such as preschool or school. That's another plus.
So how do you best deal with the 'letting it all hang out' at home then?
"Don't take it personally," Dr Wittenberg told The Mother Company.
Kids' outbursts are intense but they're over quickly. Just take them in your stride and keep the emotion out of your response, she says.
Kids are often their most scratchy when they've just come home from school or preschool, where they've had to 'hold it all in' all day. You know yourself how you feel after a long day at work; you need time to unwind before you're ready to engage with others.
Instead of bombarding them with questions about their day or trying to engage them in conversation, just give them something to eat (they're probably hungry as well as tired) and enjoy a little silence for a while.
Parents often find by dinner/bath/bedtime their kids are completely relaxed again and that's when all the stories about their day come out.
And if the meltdowns come anyway, ride them out then simply change the subject or focus. Step in (but remain matter-of-fact) if they look like they may hurt themselves or someone else, such as a younger sibling.
One piece of advice that's important, says Dr Wittenberg: "Never say 'You're okay' when they're not," she says. "It's so invalidating. Simply saying, "I know you're mad or sad," goes a long way."
And in the meantime rejoice in the fact that you get all the amazing moments, too - and these more than make up for the challenging parts.
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