How Does Home Environment Affect My Child?

Take a moment and think…what is my home like? Is it clean and organized? Is it messy? Do my children share a room or do they sleep in their own rooms? Is the TV always on? Do we eat dinner as a family unit?

All of these questions may point to the answer and a huge missing piece to your child’s behavior puzzle.

Here is an example. At your child’s parent-teacher conference, the teacher explains how wonderful he is in class. He completes all assignments in a timely manner, he is compliant, and is well liked by his peers. Your jaw drops to the floor in amazement. As happy as you are to hear that this is the persona your little “prince” exudes in school, why is he a non-compliant “mad-man” at home?

You inform the teacher that from the time he opens his eyes, it’s as if the Tasmanian Devil has been released. He argues, answers back, and wastes so much time. He makes his sister cry and goes out of his way to upset her. In the evening, it is a similar situation. He refuses to do his homework or take a shower, wanting to wheel and deal to get his way. How is it possible that he can have what seems to be two different personalities?

Pause, take a breath, and think of these few things:

Do I get up early enough to prepare myself for the day so I can focus on my child’s needs?

Do we go to bed early enough that he gets a good night sleep each night? Are there distractions in his room such as a TV or iPad that give off light that lead to unhealthy sleep patterns?

What types of food do I buy at the grocery store? Could my child be sensitive to certain things I feed him? Maybe I allow too much sugar in the evening.

Maybe the construction going on in my house is causing a chaos in his life? I should ask him if it is bothering him.

The main reason why your child is so good at school and not at home is that he can anticipate what is going to happen throughout the day. The teacher has the day and week planned and, most times, visible in the classroom. Your child knows what time school starts and what time the day ends and what time reading, writing, math, and other classes begin and end. He is certain that lunch and recess begin and end at the same time each day, and even what the cafeteria is serving for the week. School has a precise routine, except for a possible fire drill or substitute teacher, and allows your child to anticipate what will happen, prepare himself for daily activities, and feel safe.

Being aware of how your child truly feels, as opposed to assuming they are being defiant, is so important. We expect so much from these little beings and need to remind ourselves that they may not have the ability to explain their feelings. Getting on a routine will help the whole family.