daughter raging at mum

Does your child rage and get angry at home? Yet behave like a decent human being when they’re at school or at another child’s home.

Have you ever wondered why when your child is at school, they behave like a model student? In fact, if you told the teacher how awful your child was at home, they would look confused, as if to say, “Are we talking about the same child?”

Do you know why, when your child goes round to a friend’s house, they behave beautifully? They say please and thank you. They do what their friend’s parents tell them to. They’re helpful and they play nicely.

However, as soon as your child  walks through your front door, the switch turns. They quickly become angry and impossible to deal with. They scream and rage as if they are possessed.

5 common reasons children rage at home …

1. Sibling rivalry

When your child is at school, or with friends, they don’t have to compete with a sibling. You may even find that if you take your child out on their own, they behave well. However, as soon as your child is at home with a sibling, there are often fights and arguments.

Sibling arguments are often fuelled by:

  • Jealousy – thinking their brother or sister is treated better than they are.  
  • Attention seeking -wanting a parents’ or sibling’s attention, and
  • Power battles – wanting to be the top dog.

Sibling rivalry builds up over years. So, when a child is at home, the competition and the desire to get attention take over, and the child becomes mean, nasty and vindictive. When jealousy takes over, the rage can be intense.

2. Poor boundaries

Children often behave well at school because there are firm rules and boundaries. Plus, if the child is annoyed about something, they’re often a lot calmer than they are at home, because they don’t like to let themselves down and cry or get angry.

At home often the rules are a bit ‘woolly’ and most parents don’t enforce the rules. Children find it hard to cope with ‘grey areas’ so they exploit the rules and see what they can get away with, time and time again. Pretty soon when a parent tries to enforce the rule, there’s a battle-of-wills and the child often wins, because the parents can’t stay calm and assertively insist that the rule is followed.

3. Lots of attention

When children are at home, that’s their comfort zone. Mums are often more sensitive to the child’s mood and will go easy on them if they’ve had a bad day at school or are upset or frustrated for any reason.

The child learns that they get a lot of attention when they’re angry or upset, and, inadvertently, the child is more likely to get into a rage or become upset, because they get so much attention for it.

There is a saying, “what you pay attention to, grows.” If you give your child lots of attention for throwing or smashing things, or for hitting out. Even if it’s bad attention, then the child will know exactly how to get attention in future.

4. Habit

When babies grow into toddlers, there are always toddler tantrums. The child learns that by throwing themselves on the floor, and crying loudly, their parents are more likely to give them what they want. Most parents have never learned to deal effectively with tantrums, so when the child grows up, the child has angry rages and meltdowns, to get their parents to do what they want.


Sadly, this is learned behaviour. The child learns that tantrums work at home. However, at school, the same behaviour would be ridiculed and considered immature, so children learn to hold it together at school.

5. Power battles

For a child, it can feel very powerful to make the adults around you shout and scream, and it becomes a bit of a game, to see what you can achieve. It’s not that the child is bad, it’s just that it’s exciting to run rings around these big people who are in charge. Children as young as 2 can make the adults around them go red in the face and lost their temper. Often just by doing something they shouldn’t, while looking at the parent and smiling.

Power battles can be over teeth cleaning, getting ready for bed or the most mundane of activities. But the best power battles are often when a parent tries to control screen time. Or when the child is battling with a sibling. The best prize of all is to get a parent  to take your side and give their sibling a good telling off!  

If the parent takes one child’s side against the other, the other child will often get into a rage, wail loudly, shout “that’s so unfair”, and sometimes do a bit of ‘bedroom trashing,’ just so the parent knows how annoyed the child is. And so the cycle or rage continues!

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The good news is that when parents learn how to stay utterly calm, set up good routines with the child, reduce sibling rivalry, empathise with poor behaviour, and talk it through later to help the child learn from their mistakes, the rages stop. So, peace and harmony are restored at home (most of the time!) If you need help to do that, I’d love to show you how.

The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here