Home » Parenting » Blogs » Family Mental Health » Children Behave Better At School Than At Home

Children Behave Better At School Than At Home

This week, I’m in a school kind of mood.  It is the first week I’ve had all my kids in school and it’s working great for everyone.  My youngest said her brain’s tired from all the thinking and paying attention and following directions.  Hmm.  Well anyway, this got me thinking about the classic parenting question.  Why do kids often behave much better for their teachers than they do at home?

Sometimes when I’ve been at a parent teacher conference, I’ve caught myself thinking, “Are we talking about the same kid here?”  Not like my kids are setting the carpet on fire or screaming in the driveway at midnight.  But still, I see all the random sibling-annoying screaming mother-ignoring fibbing nonsense that goes on during school “off hours”.

At school, the teacher might wonder why they haven’t started speaking up in class.  Or I hear that the one who always seems to rush through things at home takes too long in class because they want to finish all the details right.  Or the one who occasionally tries to get out of trouble by not admitting their involvement gets an award for honesty and integrity.  Or, the one who seems to do her best to resist my directions at home is exhausted from all the “thinking and paying attention” at school.

Is it just me?  Is my house in a child behavior vortex?  Am I just not catching the good stuff and noticing too much of the bad?  Do some teachers get a bag of pixie dust that’s not available to parents?

You know teachers know it’s true – they always tell me when they see that look on my face that says, “Really?  My kid does what?”  This is not a new phenomenon to them.  Of course, some kids have behavior problems because of other major things going on.  These behavior problems are likely to show up in school, at home, at church, and various other places.  I’m talking about a Jekyl and Hyde thing that has perplexed me as a parent.

I did a little internet research and found a great article on that spoke to this issue.  The main point I gleaned from this was to see what the classroom teaching model had that parents could borrow.  Discipline uses guidance and structure with positive support.

Do you do this for your children, or do you let your emotions and frustrations get in the way?  Do you have good space in your home for your kids to explore, play, have private time, read, do their homework?  Are you consistent with your praise and discipline?  Also, the article points out that at home, kids already know what they can get away with and what they can’t.  Parents might be letting their kids through more loopholes than the teachers do.  Ouch.

I know, you thought I had something terribly brilliant to say about how the kids pull off the two-faced behavior, or what’s in the magic dust the teachers have.  Instead, I’m daring you to look in the mirror as a parent.  Once again.  Hopefully, you’ll find something insightful and useful.  You might even get your kid to pay as much attention to you as they do to their teacher.

Children Behave Better At School Than At Home

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

5 comments: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Krull, E. (2009). Children Behave Better At School Than At Home. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 18 Aug 2009
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.