Why Kids Behave with One Parent and Not the Other

At some point, you will notice your child obeys one parent more than the other. While it may fill you with frustration, rest assured this is more common than you think. In fact, many psychologists even believe it is natural. Rather than feeling defeated when your kids seem to behave more with your spouse than they do with you, consider the following reasons why this may be happening in your home.

One Parent is the Primary Caregiver

Kids tend to act out more with the parent who is the primary caregiver. Unless you have a household where the parenting duties are genuinely equal, your kids will identify one parent as the primary caregiver. For example, if mom is with the kids more, they will tend to feel more comfortable expressing themselves with her instead of dad. While it may be upsetting, kids will often misbehave or throw more tantrums with the parent that makes them feel safe – this tends to the parents they are most often around. Kids know they can “act up” and “mommy” will still love them.

Different Parenting Styles Elicit Different Responses

Additionally, if you and your partner have different parenting styles, you should expect different responses from your children. While it is normal to do some things differently from your spouse regarding parenting, clear differences in styles will affect how kids act. For instance, if one parent is firmer than the other parent, the kids may respond more swiftly.

It is Their Choice

Kids, especially toddlers, have very few things that they get to control. So, in some cases, your kids may simply be choosing to behave with one parent and not the other because it is under their control. You can try to prevent this cause by giving your little one opportunities to make choices often.

Your Temperament Plays a Part

Children feed off their parent’s attitudes. If a parent’s temperament is hostile, then the parent should not be surprised when the kids act hostile too. Along the same lines, if a parent is calm, then children will also take notice. Therefore, it is critical to control your temper – even in the midst of toddler meltdowns.

Their Birth Order Also Plays a Part

Multiple studies suggest that birth order plays a significant role in one’s behavior. If your first-born seems more compliant than your second born, this is normal. First-borns tend to be more concerned with pleasing their parents; whereas, second-born children tend to be more rebellious.

So, what should you do if you notice your kids are behaving with one parent and not the other. The best way to handle this issue in your home is to present a united front to your kids. Your kids need to see and believe that you are on the same team with your spouse. Have clear rules and expectations that both parents acknowledge.

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