Why Do Some Children Behave Worse When They Are With Mom?

Why Do Some Children Behave Worse When They Are With Mom?
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Do children behave worse when they’re around their mothers? Whenever I get home and ask the lady who helps me how my children behaved, the answer is always the same: they have behaved very well.

The first thing that comes to mind is: how is that possible? Are we talking about the same children that I fight with every night to eat their food? The same children who question everything and who don’t want to bathe or brush their teeth or wake up and put on their clothes?

How many moms feel this way? Why is it that they behave so badly when you’re with them? I’m their mother, isn’t there supposed to be no one else in the world who cares about them as much as I do?

So why do they behave badly only with me? Am I doing something wrong?

This is a behavior typical of young children, who are learning to control and express their emotions. They see you as a safe place and try to be themselves, so it is important that you teach them the limits. You must do this clearly, and it is a task that requires patience and love.

A false report was shared around the world and stated that children behave 800% worse with their mothers. In short, it posed that eternal question: why do children behave worse in the presence of their mothers?

why children behave worse around their mothers

Children behave worse with mom: true or false?

Dr. K.P. Leibowitz, a doctor of psychology, said, “What we found was that children as young as 8 months could be playing happily, but when they saw their mother enter the room, they were 99.9% more likely to start crying, to release their bowels and demand immediate attention. The 1% was a child with vision problems who, once he heard his mother’s voice, started throwing things and asking for a snack despite having eaten.”

The false research indicated that a child can behave up to 800% worse if the mother is present, all thanks to pheromones.

According to Dr. K.P. Leibowitz, the alleged author of the research, “Children smell their mother’s pheromones and modify their behavior. This is a natural reaction of the mother’s body, and because she emits them and her child smells them, he knows that his mother is close to him and feels protected and safe.”

Mothers always think that the child’s behavior is due to the fact that they spend more time together, because the child wants attention, because the mother says “yes” more often, or because as a mom you will always love him, even if he throws the world’s biggest tantrum.

Now, as a mother you are the safe harbor for your child. He feels more comfortable being with you. He knows you will always be by his side to help and protect him. There is a strong emotional bond between you and your child.

little boy smiling with his tongue out

Children feel confident when mom is there

No studies are necessary to know that children behave worse when in the presence of their mothers. There are two theories regarding this:

  • Confidence: your children spend a lot of time with you. This has been the case traditionally and still happens today. This generates a much greater trust in you than with any other person. This relationship of trust causes them to relax their behavior and, at times, give free rein to their emotions.
  • Children demand your attention: your children, especially when they are very young, do not want to bother you on purpose and do not plan strategies to get you out of control. Certain behaviors such as crying, kicking or screaming are nothing more than a wake-up call to you. They need all of the affection and attention you can give them. Even when you give them a lot, they need more.

Children seek comfort and will always look for you, because in you they find that hug when they have a nightmare, that kiss when they have fallen or those words of encouragement when they have not managed to score a goal.

In fathers, they look for other things: fun, exploration, games, experiences and advice. Mothers, in general, are the protection that children innately associate with survival.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.