Why do children behave differently in different settings?

Is it normal for kids to display their best behavior for others and reserve their tantrums for mommy and daddy?


We are having terrible trouble with our almost three years old. For the most part, he is great, funny, energetic and just amazing, and then there is this raging anger when he doesn’t like the answer to his question or doesn’t get what he wants. Sometimes I don’t even think he knows why he is having a tantrum. I’ve managed to avoid one or two here or there if I catch them early enough, but other times there is absolutely no stopping him.

I’ve tried removing myself from the room, removing him from the room, talking, reasoning, time-outs, you name it we have tried it, and I’m afraid that nothing I’ve read from experts so far has actually helped.

These tantrums are usually only exhibited at home, but recently he has actually had ‘a meltdown’ (nicer term, doesn’t sound as bad, but is actually the same thing) in public.

Getting back on topic. The point of all this tantrum talk is he only ever has these for mom and dad, why not for anyone or anywhere else? If I ever find a solution that actually works to calm him and subdue him I will let you all know.


We signed our little man up for daycare while I was actually in the hospital having just had our third baby (my fourth child) in early January this year. We did this for a couple of reasons. He was ready to learn, he was eager to go, he needed a structured play and socializing, we needed time away from him, and he needed time away from us. He loves his school and would go every day if he could. He is happy to go but also super excited when we pick him up. It’s so nice that he has had a day that he has thoroughly enjoyed and that is not controlled by us.

A few days ago his teacher asked me if he speaks at home. Ummm yes he does, he speaks a lot, he is always telling his little brother off or demanding his favorite show, or activity he wants to do. In fact, he barely shuts up. If he is not talking he is whining about this that or the other, not to mention all the owies he has.

His teacher informed me that he barely ever speaks and when he does it’s so soft they can’t hear him. OMG, are you kidding me? I was in shock. She then goes on to tell me he is the best-behaved child in the class. I’m in total shock at this point.

So I learned that when MY CHILD is not around me he behaves in a completely different way. I’ve also learned that this is actually is a good thing and is normal behavior.

Are all munchkins Jekyll & Hyde?

Does this sound like something you’ve experienced? Who is this child who’s being described to you as radically different from or the total opposite to the one you know?

Knowing one behavior and learning about the other can be a little confusing (but also a relief). It tells me that it’s different environments and people that trigger episodes (if we want to call them those), it also tells me that he does have enough constraints to control his behavior.

Whether they are family or strangers, children with developmental disorders may show sign of behaving with a significant sameness with everyone. When your child treats different people differently they are exhibiting normal and expected behavior.

The Answer

The answer is YES, our children do and are supposed to exhibit different personalities and behaviors in different environments and around different people. In my case I’m thankful. (He has his teachers thinking he is a shy but perfect angel).

What actually matters is that children change as they grow and develop, they will continue to develop and change their behaviors to suit their environment throughout their lives.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Bernice says:

    I felt like you were describing my child. He is older but his teachers think he’s a little angel a few times they did not believe me when I mentioned his naughty behavior at home. We are working on behavior at home

    1. GrapevineMom says:

      It’s so difficult trying to find something that actually works for my child. I hope he get’s easier as he gets older.

  2. Larisa says:

    Yes yes yes!!! I picked up my twins from daycare one day and their teacher proceeded to tell me how they were the best nappers in the room. EXCUSE ME! Don’t lie to me! This is not whats happening at home. What gives!?

    1. GrapevineMom says:

      My two year old refuses to nap at home but will nap for his teachers at daycare too. Crazy. Thanks for reading.

  3. Alia says:

    I total agree with this post! My daughter is only 15 months old but already she is one way with me, another at daycare! Love!

    1. GrapevineMom says:

      I’m about to start my almost two-year-old for the summer program, so it will be interesting to see how he behaves. I have a feeling he isn’t going to like me leaving him. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *