It’s true what they say; if your child behaves perfectly with others (teachers, babysitters, friends), and then acts out with you, it means that you are doing something right.
Your young one is smart enough to know what is expected of them in life when they are out in the world (way to go, mom and dad!), and they are smart enough to know that when they are home, they are in a safety zone with their parents. Enough so that they can act out without embarrassment or shame.
It’s called unconditional love. We will love our children no matter what they do, and they know this because we have made it clear to them.
They know that they are loved, even when they don’t behave, even when they temper tantrum. We continue to want more of their sweet hugs and wet kisses. Because we love them.
We are “home” to them. We are Safety. Even if there is judgment at home, it is not detrimental to their survival or to their safe haven. We are going to be there for them. They are smart enough to know this, too. They can be who they are at their worst.
After they give away every ounce of their best behavior to the world, and the world in turn makes them feel insignificant, less than worthy and incompetent, they know that when they get back home, they can release all of the negative feelings that they have experienced into the safe hidden crevices of home and of hugs and of unconditional acceptance. So they do.
That temper tantrum last night? That was from the previous days’ experience of not getting a fair turn on the playground. And that break down last night right before bed? That was because they were ostracized by a group of close friends for a simple embarrassing mistake.
But we don’t get to hear about the experiences. We only get to feel them. Their frustrations come barreling at us like a James-and-the-Giant-Peach-rhino-nightmare. They don’t hold anything back. They let it all go until the steam and the pressure have been released into the air around us.
We need to be ready to stand to the side so that the heat doesn't scald us, but we need to keep our hand on their shoulder to steady them. To remind them that we’ll hold them up if they need us to while they spew the bitterness of the world onto our lap.
We don’t even need to know what problems they had. We just need to recognize that they had a problem that needs to be released, and allow them the space and the time to do so.
When I get asked for advice about a child’s behavior, I'll often say that everything is just a phase and it will pass. And that is often true.
But this behavior children have of acting out at home never goes away. We hold onto it throughout adulthood. We let loose on our loved ones.
We come home and guess who gets our bad mood? Our frustrations are served up on a platter to those who are home when we arrive. We get anxious and angry with the ones who are in front of us when we are running late. They feel our frustrations of life. Meanwhile, the people that we work with and play with and visit with see our softer, better behaved side. We are polite and politically correct. We don’t trust them completely. Not like our home bodies.
Our home bodies will hopefully love us and our faults and mood distortions and anxieties and short tempers unconditionally. When our angst settles, they will know it and they will come up and give us that hug that the world never can.
We can melt and falter and tear up, and they will glue us back together with only a few words that will comfort us and put us back on track to the person that we were minutes before. We need our 90 seconds of suffering released and we need to be accepted while we do it.
The next time that you feel the anxiety from your little or big loved one, whether they are two or seventy-two, comfort them through it. Be strong for them when they can’t be.
If temper tantrums happens at your house, you are safety. You are trusted. And you are unconditional.
Live unconditionally~ Love, Katherine