Am I capable of this? Did I make the right decision? Am I ruining my child’s life? Maybe all my doubters were right. What if I am killing my relationship with my child? Am I adequately preparing my child for life?
We have wrestled with these questions in general, but when faced with them in the context on homeschooling, these doubts have the ability to devastate us.
All of the homeschoolers I know do this because they are dedicated to being close with their kids and giving them the best education possible. Because of this, the hard days hurt us more than we thought possible.
So how should we handle the bad days when we fight to keep our cool?
Simple. One at a time.
While this sounds easy, this is the most frustrating piece of advice people have ever given me. I know this means to focus on right now, but it’s still hard because we are faced with building a person from scratch.
How can we focus on just right now?
Understand the value of your frustration.
Kids learn by imitating. As frustrating as it is, your reaction in this moment will be the same your child has when they face their own anger. I found it’s always a little easier to keep my cool when I focus using the situation as a teaching moment.
These are the moments when you show your child you are dedicated to the character trait self control.
Self control — the act of pausing before you react
Focus on just letting a few seconds pass between what is frustrating you and your reaction. This will give you time to remember not to yell or fly off the handle.
Tips to Pause
I really can’t stress the importance of breathing when you are frustrated. Inhale for a count of 5 then exhale for a count of 8. Focus on feeling your breath come in and release out. This cultivates an awareness of right now.
Take a break
There is no shame in telling yourself and your kids that you need a moment of quiet or isolation in order to control yourself. Retreat to the bathroom or send the kids to their room. Simply admit, “I need a moment to get myself under control. It’s important that I have self control, too.” No blame. No shame. All responsibility.
Evaluate if this day may be better spent on learning something that isn’t academics. Cleaning, car or home maintenance, cooking, service projects, or taking the rest of the day to focus on connection may be lessons that will stick better.
If taking the rest of the day off isn’t an option, taking a short break to play, be active, get a snack, go outside, etc will refresh everyone.
Focus on connection
Sometimes it’s as simple as a hug, short silly break, or a short “I know it’s hard”. Searching for connection reassures everyone that our relationships come first.
Other times, we all need a mental health day, kids especially. Take a while (or the whole day) to show that our hearts are focused on doing the best possible for each other. Play, talk, explore. Bond.
We need to teach our kids that consistency over a long period of time is the key to accomplishing great things and with that comes setbacks and delays. It’s in these moments we teach them to pause, evaluate, and then react. These days are the ones we teach our kids it’s ok and beneficial to to take a break and come back refreshed.
Anger and frustration can easily destroy, and we must recognize the need to teach our children how to deal with it. That means we must learn to practice self control ourselves.