The primary caregiver is one of the parents.
Children tend to behave more when their primary caregiver’s parent is around. Unless you have a household where parenting responsibilities are truly shared, your children will see one parent as the primary caregiver. For example, when mom spends more time with the kids, they feel more comfortable expressing themselves to her than to their dad. Although it can be annoying, children often misbehave or throw more tantrums with the parent who makes them feel safe—usually the parent they spend the most time with. Children understand that they can “act out” and their “mother” will still love them.
Different parenting styles elicit different responses.
Also, if you and your partner have different parenting methods, your children will react differently. While it’s natural to do certain things differently than your spouse when it comes to parenting, significant differences in parenting styles have an impact on how your children behave. For example, if one parent is more steadfast than the other, the children can react more quickly.
Your temperament is important
Children adopt the attitude of their parents. If a parent’s temperament is hostile, children should not be surprised if they also behave aggressively. In the same way, if a parent is quiet, children will notice. So it’s important to keep your cool – even if your toddler is having a nervous breakdown.
It is your decision.
Children, especially toddlers, have very few things over which they have control. So, in certain circumstances, your children may simply choose to behave differently with one parent than the other because it is within their control. You can help prevent this by giving your child frequent opportunities to make decisions.
Your birth order is also important.
Several studies have found that birth order has a significant impact on behavior. It is common for your first child to be more compliant than your second child. Firstborns tend to be more eager to please their parents, while secondborns tend to be rebellious.
So what should you do if you see your children behaving differently with one parent than with the other? The simplest strategy for dealing with this problem in your home is to present a united front to your children. Your children need to see and believe that you and your spouse are on the same team. Set clear ground rules and expectations that both parents understand.