The quandary of a street angel, home devil

street angel, home devil

Sometimes I feel like the biggest lad is two different children. One is a charming, delightful street angel. The other is a challenging, disruptive home devil. I’m sure it’s not a calculated thing but some days I am left scratching my head.

The street angel

On Thursday I collected the biggest lad from school. He waved and said good bye to the Principal. She replied ‘oh goodbye my favourite person’. Um, sorry what? Have I picked up the wrong kid?

This kind of thing happens all the time. I’ve lost count of the stuff that random strangers have given him, because he’s sweet and entertaining. We rock up to our local cafe and the owner and barista greet him with high fives. He got a special treat from the educators at vacation care because he was such a well behaved kid. Recently a fellow kindy parent told me the biggest lad seemed to be an “old-soul” and a caring boy. I almost wondered if she was referring to the right kid! The biggest lad has everyone fooled, except his immediate family.

The home devil

The biggest lad has his moments, he can be a real delight at home. But he certainly thinks he rules our house. I’m ashamed to admit that he does, in many ways. Often his responses, to very reasonable requests, are entirely disproportionate. He’s demanding, impatient and disruptive. He’s nearly 6 but will yell, when I am at the other end of the house, “I’m hungry”. He knows I’ll come running to feed him. I feel like I’m constantly walking on eggshells around him. Frankly it’s embarrassing. I could go on, but you get the picture. Street angel, home devil. It wears me down.

The quandary of a street angel, home devil

Of course it’s wonderful that people praise the biggest lad. But it’s also downright confusing. It’s frustrating that the biggest lad treats his friends, teachers and strangers better than his brothers and us as his parents. I often wonder why he can’t be kind to us, the people that love and adore him. Why does he always give the best of himself to others? And what am I doing wrong? I wish we saw more of that gentle and loveable kid. Gosh, on the really awful days I wonder why he hates me.

Yet, if pressed, I’d prefer him to be a street angel, home devil than the reverse. He’s great at keeping his cool out and about. There’s rarely a a public tantrum. He obviously has a desire to please his teachers and to be liked by his peers. Being charming, and a little bit clever, will probably serve him well.

Plus, it makes sense, right? Home is safe. He knows that I’ll still love him and he’ll get his needs met, even when he is a right pain in the butt. I’m sure it’s exhausting for him, always being on his absolute best behaviour away from home.

It bugs me though that he can manage his frustrations and listen to instructions at school, or even in public, yet he can’t do the same at home. It also means we feel like we have to get out and about as a family, all of the time. We escape the house because it’s simply easier with the biggest lad, he’s far more manageable!

I’ve no idea how to change my street angel, home devil. Time, I suspect! If you have a street angel, home devil, you are not alone. And I feel your pain. Fun and games, isn’t it?!?

I would love insights on getting my biggest lad to be more of a home angel. Over to you…

Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT

32 thoughts on “The quandary of a street angel, home devil

  1. It sounds like he’s a very clever little lad! He has everyone wrapped around his little finger and you all figured out. My son is only 4 so I’m not too sure about the age of 6 but from my experience of how much my son has changed, I’d definitely say it’s a time thing and perhaps a phase. Sounds cliche, but I’m sure loads of kids are the same. I agree with what you say, he’s comfortable with you, he knows if you get angry with him that everything will still be ok, you love him and he loves you. But if that were the same with other people, it’s all the unknown!

    1. Too clever for his own good Eva! I sure hope you are right about it being a phase that will pass.

  2. Aaaah that’s interesting…. My two are pretty consistent on that front, so I have absolutely no idea what to suggest I’m afraid. It’s great that he is so highly regarded at school though!

  3. Look at that face!! Like butter wouldn’t melt…
    I have read that kids will often act up at home because it’s where they feel most secure and safe. So it’s a compliment really 😉

  4. Having been through this with my now 7 year old (her behaviour like that was because of abuse, we experienced domestic abuse in my previous marriage), here are my thoughts and please know it comes with the best intentions, is not a judgment at all and if you want to chat in more detail feel free to contact me as I am usually really reserved about what I write online about my daughters. I’ve dealt with a few paediatricians in different states as we have moved around, other specialists and parenting groups. I am not an expert, but based on my experience, the advice from those professionals and the other parents I have connected with, here is what was said to me about it all.

    1.) He knows you. He knows if he chucks a tantrum you will pander to it. He knows he can demand and you will allow it. You need to stop. It will get nastier before it gets better. A lot of these behaviours come down to the parenting at home, especially if they are able to control themselves in public. My daughter was on and off with being ok in public, she wasn’t consistent. My daughter got triggered because of abuse, so slightly different, but overall, they know they can push the boundaries at home and do it as far as they can. Stop allowing it and it will eventually stop. It’s not just a time or age thing, it’s discipline, respect and knowing who the parent is. Which leads to point two.
    2.) When you are parenting and it’s time for him to do something do you pose it as a question or simply state this is what is happening. If you ask him it’s like he is the parent. For example, instead of saying “Do you think you should pack up your toys?” or “Can you please pack up your toys?” give him a timeframe eg “In 5 minutes it will be time to pack up your toys.” then come back in 5 minutes and tell him it is time to pack up. When you phrase everything as a question you are giving them the option to respond however they want and a question is not something he has to do. A question gives the power over to them and many parents phrase things that should be statements as questions. You are the adult, you should be making the decisions and you should be the one training and guiding them. If a child is the one in charge in a room that’s actually really scary for them. I am all for teaching kids to make their own decisions, learn for themselves etc. But the bulk of the time, at this age, the parent should be making statements about what is to happen next, not asking them questions. This alone can see a shift in behaviour.
    3.) Be consistent. Be extremely clear on expectations and when they are met have a rewards system, when they are not met have a consequences system. Don’t let them get away with something one day only to come down hard the next.
    4.) Try a parenting course like circle of security, I know others who had great success with this.
    5.) Read the 5 love languages or the 5 love languages of children. While he’s a bit too young to fully assess his love language, it can really help. My daughters were clear from a very young age which love language was theirs and it hasn’t changed.
    6.) Diet, exercise and sleep. Stick to a routine, reduce sugar (check all labels, it is crazy how much junk and sugar is in our food), have a consistent sleep routine and ensure he is getting enough sleep. Keep him active in the day too.

    Hope this helps. As I said, it’s not a judgment, it’s based on personal experience and recommendations from professionals.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to make such an informed and helpful comment Kylie. I don’t feel any judgement at all, simply great, honest advice. Everything you’ve said makes sense. I’ll take it all on board, thanks again.

  5. Our two are generally beautifully behaved everywhere else, but at home – they’re not TOO bad, but definitely they let down their guard and some of the less enjoyable qualities come out. I think you’re right that it is better than the other way around, and I just keep working on encouraging the good aspects, or pointing out when they do something that they wouldn’t do elsewhere. Hard to know (down time is good too – sometimes that’s what they need, in order to regard energy to maintain their better qualities). Good luck!

    1. Thanks Helen, I do tend to reprimand bad behaviour, rather than praise the good behaviour. I might try and flip my focus!

          1. I think it’s kept from us, in case we are put off! But if we were, we wouldn’t experience the good times either, would we? Swings and roundabouts …

  6. Hi! I have a 7 year old and I think that sometimes his behaviour is just because he knows me so well and knows what what I do and don’t like and what will get me upset. Is it a bit like the old age “hurt the ones you love” sort of deal? He’s my first so it is a big learning curve for me too at present. The amount of times I have heard myself say “would you speak to your teacher like this?” and his answer is “no”. Then why me??!! But I do know that he sees what upsets me and he does always make it up in some small way later in his own little ways. I think it is a major flaw of humans to always think we know more than the older generations, I don’t know why we do that or act like they don’t matter. But I like to think that later on when he is older he will get the whole picture and be able to look back and see I had his back and always did and that all the love we show now will make them into the men they are, even if they don’t like to show it all the time. Just my two bobs worth 🙂

    1. Oh yes, my eldest absolutely knows how to push my buttons! I agree entirely that parenting the eldest child is a steep learning curve.

  7. He sounds super smart to me. I noticed too, that you made the comment that you both know you’ll give him what he wants even though you don’t love the way he asks. My instinct there would be to not give it until he behaves in the way you would like him to. He’s obviously capable of doing it. Good luck!

    1. Yes Jess, too smart for his own good. Intelligent, stubborn, strong-willed, it’s a challenge as a parent!

  8. Mine are both angels for everyone else but they push the limits at home so I totally understand what you are going through. Hopefully it’s just a phase that will pass just like all the others. 😉

  9. Adults do this too. Husbands and wives go to work and are great company and optimistic and upbeat to coworkers, friends, extended family, cashiers, strangers, etc. Then they come home and they’re a nightmare to their family. On edge, grumpy, not easy to please. You are absolutely correct, home is a safe place where people that have to contain their emotions all day, everyday, can come home and unleash. Not saying that you should put your child in therapy (by any means), but maybe you can speak with a child therapist or do some online research to find better ways to channel that negative energy at home. Maybe all it takes is a sit down chat during a tantrum where all you do is listen. maybe start with an ice breaker question and then just listen, listen, listen. It has worked for me in the past with both children and adults.

    1. You are absolutely right Melanie that adults can be street angels, home devils. If I am entirely honest, sometimes I can be a little the same!

    1. Oh no Melinda, an all round devil! You hang in there too and repeat the mantra ‘this too shall pass’!

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