The ability to reset your homeschool day when it is going south is one of the most important skills you can have as a homeschool mom.
When your day quickly spirals into frustration, tears (their tears and yours), and no learning is happening – it may make you feel that your homeschool is a failure. You just can’t do this. It’s not going to work out.
I have been there. The idea to write this post actually came to me when my daughter barricaded herself in a “fort” made out of blankets and refused to talk to me or do any school. She even hung up signs to make her intentions clear.
I was tempted to answer her anger with anger, but I am so thankful I paused and decided to take on the challenge she had presented. Could I reset this day? Or was the whole day lost because she was being so hostile? Challenge accepted! (Spoiler alert: She finished all her school work that day with a smile -and it turned out to be a great experience!)
Well, what went wrong?
First of all, let’s explain why our homeschooler’s bad attitude issues are not our fault and actually just one of the issues that comes with choosing to homeschool.
As a homeschool mom, you wear MANY hats and that sets you apart from the local school teacher down the road. That teacher sees her students 6-7 hours a day with breaks for recess and lunch. She is a respected authority figure and her main job is to educate.
YOU are a parent. You already have the roles of encourager, supporter, provider, disciplinarian, helper, driver, nurse, and cook among many others. Now you have taken on the role of school teacher. That is a huge shake-up to the relationship dynamic!
Let me give you some examples of what can easily happen to cause a homeschool implosion:
5 Reasons Your Homeschooler has a Bad Attitude:
Your child finished her breakfast and does not want to do the dishes when you ask her. In fact, she throws down some disrespect and bad attitude over the issue that gets her a ticket back to her bedroom (or insert discipline technique you use).
You are absolutely in the right (and a loving parent!) for providing discipline when your child needs it…but when the kid comes downstairs and you expect her to sit up to her math lesson – you might find she is in a less than cooperative mood.
She may still be angry or likely embarrassed about what happened. It may be very challenging to her when you switch hats and start teaching a lesson when 20 minutes ago you were the disciplinarian.
This actually is what happened with my daughter on that fateful day. I do not recall exactly what occurred, but she had to be sent to her room for some issue one morning and the day just couldn’t seem to recover after that.
2. Sibling issues
Siblings are on a break from schoolwork and an argument breaks out over a highly desired toy. Faces get red and hot as both parties demand their rights to the toy in question. You may or may not step in to resolve the issue depending on how severe it gets.
Either way, when school resumes, one or both kids are going to be angry that they did not get their way. This will likely cause distracted, inattentive kids who are not in the mood to learn. Sound familiar?
3. Environment confusion
Even if your kids have never spent a day in “real school” there is still an issue with taking your home – a place of fun, playing, resting, etc. – and switching to a place of structured learning. This is a big part of why I recommend a classroom here. But even with a classroom, kids can still find themselves looking out the window or at their video games and not wanting to do even the smallest school tasks.
This of course leads to frustration and short tempers on both sides. I highly recommend avoiding negative consequences in these situations. Read more here about how to head off this kind of problem before it starts.
4. Lack of Social Pressure
Kids tend to act differently in the home environment – surrounded by their family – than when they are in a more diverse social group. I know that my daughter would NEVER throw a tantrum for her co-op teacher the way she does for me. When I asked her one day if she would ever act this way at co-op she said, “No way! That would be so embarrassing!”
So this is a pro and a con of homeschooling I would say. I’m glad my kids can be free to feel their feelings at home…but those feelings and emotions – and how they are expressed – can often hinder learning.
5. Academic Challenge
My kids can drive the day right into a ditch when they come face to face with an academic challenge that they deem too hard. “I can’t get this!” “I can’t do it!” “This is too hard!” Ever heard that before? Also something they would be unlikely to express in a “normal school” environment.
What to do??
Okay, so we’ve established that these hard days are normal and NOT a reflection of a failing homeschool. When you find yourself going through a rough day, do not despair! Do not call the local school board to enroll them. Do not give up! Take on the reset challenge and see if you can use one or all of the below tips to turn your day around!
How to Turn Your Homeschooler’s Bad Attitude Around
The first step in fixing the problem is to recognize you have a reset day on your hands. You as a parent need to step back and survey the situation, the cause of the situation, and start thinking about what direction you can take for a reset.
You may need to excuse yourself to your room (or more realistically the bathroom) for a few minutes so that you can deal with your own anger and frustration. When you come back, you need to be calm with eyes that show love and concern – not frustration and anger.
If you have even a hint of anger or frustration, your kids will smell it and it will only feed their fire. On the other hand, your calm presence will be an example to them of self-control and disarm those strong feelings they are struggling with.
2. Switch Subjects
I have managed to do a reset by simply switching to a favorite subject that my daughter thinks is the most fun. Her face will light up (or look less angry) by just moving to something new.
After the frustration is diffused, I will revisit the subject we had to abandon from a different angle. For example, instead of writing on the worksheet, I’ll copy the math problem on the whiteboard. You’d be surprised what a little change like that can make.
Tip: If you have the kind of kid who is prone to needing a reset – make a point to save that favorite subject for the end of school. That way you can pull it out of your back pocket when needed.
3. Take a break
If the subject change is not working, just stop trying to fix it and take a break. Keep your face under control (a term I call facial discipline) and tell your kids that everyone needs to take a break for a while. Really important to keep your face calm and emphasize this is not a punishment. You are trying to help them calm down and get their feelings under control.
Your kid may end up coming to you and apologize for their horrific behavior…probably not though, so try this for your next step.
4. Come back together
Use the time apart to rest, pray for wisdom (He will answer!), and come up with a plan to reconnect with your kids. If at all possible, try to reconnect one on one. If it makes more sense though, have everyone come back together.
There are two things that I have found to be essential in making this a success:
When I came up to talk to my daughter when she was hiding in her blanket fort, I brought a plate of cheese and crackers. I saw her eyes change as soon as she saw the plate. It was a peace offering that said I am here to sit and really listen to you. I want to connect with you. I brought a snack because I’m gonna be here awhile.
If it’s appropriate when it’s time to sit down with your child, bring something to eat. I’m not talking about a bag of candy or cookies or anything sweet to bribe them with. I mean a whole food snack to sit down and enjoy while you talk about why the whole day just exploded.
A wise person told me years ago that when you are talking it out with your husband after an argument, make a point to touch each other – even if you’re still really mad. The recommendation was to sit so that your knee caps are at least touching.
My husband and I now refer to those as “knee cap conversations” and they work! There is something crazy disarming about touching someone that seems to melt away a lot of the anger and irritability.
I have started using this method with my kids and it has been amazing!
When you are reconnecting with your kid make a point to hold their hand, put your hand on their back, put them in your lap if age-appropriate, or sit knee cap to kneecap! However, you can swing it, find a way to be in physical contact.
5. Talk it Out
Hopefully by the time you’ve taken a break, had something to eat, and you are sitting close to your child, talking will come more easily. Start by looking back at the day and going through step by step with them to see what happened and where things started to go off the rails. What were they thinking? What were they feeling? Was there some major miscommunication that can be ironed out? Were there hurt feelings? Take your time with this and really hear your child, asking questions to get to the bottom of it all.
Don’t forget to tell your child your thoughts and feelings that happened throughout the day. You might be surprised at how they react to hearing what you were really thinking and feeling compared to their perception.
Make them laugh!
After the huge, emotional talk-it-out time, I find it is still really difficult to return to the classroom table. There needs to be some kind of comic relief after all of that drama.
I have young kids, so silliness is a big winner here. A tickle fight, quick game of chasing them around the house, super silly dance party, or whatever you can think of to make them smile is the goal. That will melt away the last bits of bitterness and frustration.
Recap: How to Change Your Homeschooler’s Bad Attitude
The above steps are what I went through with my daughter and we were able to return to the classroom and ended up having an awesome day! We were super behind schedule, but it was completely worth it for how it strengthened our relationship and bonded us.
If you are not able to return to school for whatever reason – that is not a failure! By taking the time to go through these steps, you have sown seeds in your child’s heart! What you did is far more beneficial than just calling it a day, turning on the TV, and eating some chocolate to numb your pain.
I know the whole process sounds time-consuming, but I think it is extremely important in building a foundation for your homeschool and relationship with your child. We are all sinners and there are just going to be bad days full of short tempers, bad attitudes, and frustration. Instead of throwing up our hands and quitting – choose to teach your kids how to resolve conflict, how to listen, and how to communicate with love!
It’s a challenge, isn’t it?! The next time your day is falling apart in front of you…PAUSE! Recognize that you are being presented with an awesome challenge to reset the day and resolve an issue that is very serious to your kid. Grab that challenge by the horns and take it on Mama!
Do you need more tips and encouragement for your homeschool day?
Consider joining The Simple Homeschooler Community for more support and some homeschool freebies!
Want to make sure you don’t forget all this by the next time you’re presented with a reset challenge? Just pin this to your favorite Pinterest board!