Frustration Part VIII

What do you do when you realize your child has become the idol or the family terrorist?

1.  Don’t engage in a power struggle.

“It is a grave mistake to try to overpower a power drunk child.  It is also futile.  In the ensuing battle, which becomes chronic, the child merely develops greater skill in using his power and finds greater reason to feel worthless unless he can demonstrate it.” – Children the Challenge


One of the things we have done in the Guire home when a particular child seems to be ruling the roost, i.e. stealing candy from others, flinging hurtful words, for an extended period is to have family court.

Family Court
The family sits around the dining room table and the crimes are listed.  The accused must listen.  Afterwards, the offended talk among themselves and decides the sentence.  The sentences decided have been various: do the dishes for a week, do the chore of the one you robbed for a week, pay x amount until you have paid the debt, say five nice things to everyone before you leave the table.

Family court puts the perpetrator in his place without mom and dad constantly engaged in a power struggle with the child.  He has to face his accusers.  It give him a chance to see where he stands.  If everyone in the family is upset, he should want to make amends.  It is real life.  If you steal, slander someone’s good name, trespass, destroy property or harass someone when you are a grown-up, you will go to court and be sentenced for the crime.

Of course, mom or dad must be the judge and not let the family court get out of hand and the accused doesn’t end up doing everyone’s chores for a year.


Frustration Part VI

Let’s get practical.

Theories are wonderful, but what do I do when I am stuck in the frustration circle?  What are some practical ways to escape and feel the wind on my face again and excape the stink?

Here are a few tips:

  • Slow down and eliminate unnecessary stress.  Often a schedule that is too full causes extra stress on Mom.  If an activity outside the home is causing problems inside the home, cut it out, no matter what it is.  A family’s emotional health is more important than an activity that ‘everyone else is doing’.
  • Evaluate the child’s learning style.  An auditory learner who is only given visual work will balk and become frustrated.  Try to to use all the of the learning styles with multiple children to cover all the bases.  http://bubblyprofessor.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/learning-styles1.jpg
  • Take a break!  Homeschooling Moms have high expectations.  They expect perfection from themselves and their students.  Homeschoolers do the whole math book!  While academic success is important, it is okay to let loose once and awhile and settle down into the moment at hand.  Enjoy!  Make muffins.  Go to the park. 
  • Go to the bathroom.  If in the middle of the teaching day, Mom gets overwhelmed or is engaged in a power struggle with a child, she needs to remove herself from the situation.  Go to the bathroom. Pray. Refocus.  Get your game face on and return to the playing field with a new attitude.  
Next week, I will share some personal stories from the tips I have given you today.  Feel free share your stories and tips in the comments.  
Tomorrow-Fun Friday!

Frustration Circle Part V

Theory 2- It is difficult to behold sin; it causes us to act, react or look away.

And about the ninth hour (three o’clock) Jesus cried with a loud voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?– that is, My God, My God, why have You abandoned Me [leaving Me helpless, forsaking and failing Me in My need]?   Matthew 27:46


God looked away from Jesus while he bore the overwhelming world darkening sin of the world on the cross.  God is holy and He cannot co-exist with sin.  Forget the bumper stickers, co-exist.  It’s not possible.  Light and darkness cannot dwell in the same space.  When the light comes, darkness leaves, it must.  For that brief period, Jesus bore all the putrid darkness of sin belonging to each of us!  The earth itself rebelled.  Darkness overwhelmed the earth and it shook from it’s very core.

This is an example at the far end of the spectrum to make a point.  I am not God and my child is not carrying my sin, but when he carries a burden of sin, it is difficult to watch.  I want to take it for him-to relieve him and get him on the right track again.  I take action to get him back to the cross and lead him in the way he should go.

When a child remains in a rebellious attitude for a series of days, weeks or months despite correction, I want to look away, not because I am holy, but because I know the end.It’s painful to remain in a relationship with someone who habitually sins in the same way.  It’s a scary movie.  I yell at the video screen, “don’t go that way!”

He will die for lack of discipline and instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray and be lost.  Proverbs 5:23

The worst of my fears sometimes comes true.  I react badly.  I am harsh, hard and pressing.  Jesus is none of those.  He is firm, strong, He roars like a lion, clears out the sellers, the invaders of the temple with strong arms.  Then He heals those who are broken- hearted.    

The Frustration Circle

God does not hand out easy passes
Sometimes by Friday, we want easy,right?
Monday, we may feel as if we can tackle anything, but by Friday, our menu plan has fizzled to peanut butter sandwiches, the character traits we are working on in ourselves and our children seem to flare up anew and we are tired. It seems as if we are facing the same offenses over and and over. It’s hard work to keep forgiving.
Why is it difficult to forgive the for the same offense of a child over and over again?
I have two theories:
1.  We blame ourselves for the child not changing, i.e. -the inability to control the child
2.  Sin is difficult to watch, it causes us to want to look away or to react

Let’s look at theory number one today.  Parents, especially homeschooling Moms, judge their success on the out put  of their children.  Well-mannered, well-educated, well-dressed children mean Mom is doing a great job.  Slovenly, wicked, unlearned children mean Mom is doing a terrible job.  Right?

Does it?  Can a human truly control another?  Are homeschoolers supposed to obedient, line up wearing khaki pants and izod polos, giving unified, well-mannered answers?  Should they line up and do the duck march too?  Wait, did I go too far?  Homeschooling doesn’t produce perfect people.  Every child has a choice.  Choice belongs to each human, God gave it to him.

If you think you are having problems with your children, look at God’s early family.  Adam and Eve disobeyed, lied, hid themselves and played the blame game.  Did God forgive them?  Yes, afterwards, he handed out some serious consequences that we are still reaping.  Adam and Eve didn’t fare so well either.  Their son Cain murdered his brother Abel.  You think disputes are bad in your household? Think about this historical fact, meditate on it. That spat about who was going to do the dishes or finish a math worksheet kind of pales in comparison, right?

A parent’s job is to train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6) When a child matures he will follow the godly training  he has been given, it might be when he is five or thirty-five.  It is up to him.

So, keep training, keep teaching, keep praying, keep the faith that even if your child is causing you frustration right now, he will go in the way of the Lord and not depart from it!

Frustration Circle Part III

If you are just joining the series, I have been addressing the issue of frustration in homeschooling from the point of view of the parent.

I looked up frustrate on dictionary.com:

frustrate- to make (plans, efforts, etc) worthless or of no avail; defeat, nullify: The student’s indifference frustrated the teacher’s efforts to help him.

Wow!  The sample sentence couldn’t be any more right on.  It doesn’t just hit the nail on the head, it drives it into the wood with one fell swoop, splinters flying.   Dictionary.com, have you been reading my blog or my mind?

Let me backtrack and dispel a myth about homeschoolers that I hear frequently:

Homeschoolers are more patient then the rest of the human race.

How do I know people think this?  Because if I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “I could never homeschool, I don’t have the patience,” I could go on vacation!

Homeschoolers are not born with an extra dose of patience, like an extra muscular arm, allowing us to remain calm in the cyclone of a child having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day).  We are just flesh and blood humans like the of the population.

This is the number one reason that it is easy to stay in the frustration circle-we are human.  Even Peter, the disciple, thought there should be a limit on forgiveness.

 ” One day, while walking with Jesus he asked, “Master, how many times do I forgive a brother or sister who hurts me? Seven?”

Jesus replied, “Seven!  Hardly.  Try seventy times seven….” Matthew 18:21,22, The Message

Seven is the number of perfection, so in other words, Jesus is saying we need to keep forgiving a person for the same offense until they are perfect or we are and have not the need to.  Let’s face it, that won’t be until Jesus returns or we die.

So, Mom, ask for grace.  Jesus understands our weaknesses, it is when we step back and lean on Him, He is  our Strength and our Stronghold, yours and mine.

Why is it so difficult to forgive our child of repeated offenses?  Watch for some theories in Part IV on Wednesday.  Tuesday, watch for time saving tips!


The Frustration Circle Part II

I begin the day with hope and joy.  Bible study goes well, then we get into the nitty-gritty subjects that require something of the student.  Out of nowhere comes frustration, suddenly a perfectly happy child turns into a porcupine, all the quills are out.  He stabs his paper with a pencil, scribbles, rips, tears, throws and announces,
“I’m not going to do this!” or “I just don’t get it!”  or “This is stupid!”

The frustration cycle goes like this:
Child balks or becomes frustrated at task presented.
He refuses to cooperate.
Mom becomes frustrated.
Mom is at an impasse.
What does she do? Yell?

It’s easy to take offense and stay in the frustration circle for an hour, a day, a month, a year, always being at odds with a child because he doesn’t cooperate.

I’m going to approach this from the side of a parent first and the child’s in a later post.  It’s difficult not to take offense when a child repeatedly balks or talks back to Mom.  But, an offended Mom produces the following fruit:  hurt, anger, outrages, jealousy, resentment, strife, bitterness, hatred and envy (The Bait of Satan).

When Mom responds in the fruit of offense, she enters the frustration circle.  This makes the days hellish for the whole family.  I am not saying Mom should let offenses slide, give a logical consequence and forgive in order to produce the right environment for the rest of the family.

If you are reading this and you have never experienced any frustration in the arena of homeschooling, then you are blessed beyond measure.  If you, on the other hand, have experienced the frustration circle, feeling as if the child is in control and you are out of control, keep reading, you are not alone.  I am right there with you, sister.  This is not just a bunch of words on a blog, this is REAL.  Some parts of my life can get pretty stinky.  This is not pie in the sky advice because I am holier than thou and my homeschooling is perfect. This is warfare.  Forgiveness on a daily basis with a difficult child makes me feel like upchucking sometimes, but when I do it, I feel better.  The poison leaves through my pores like a vapor of steam. Peace like a river washes my soul.

Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]”  I Corinthians 13:7

Part III coming up soon!  Why it is difficult to forgive again and again.

The Frustration Circle Part I

Frustration is the unspoken temptation of homeschooling Moms.  The power of assumption is great.  Assumption that other homeschooling Moms have perfectly dressed, obedient, well- educated  children sets the bar high, so high that no one can leap over it, the pole and vaulter come crashing down.

Homeschooling a child with a learning challenge can lead to mountains of misunderstanding and frustration.   A child who feels he cannot succeed will “demonstrate his complete inadequacy” according to Rudolf Dreikurs in Children the Challenge.

The child will demonstrate his inability by saying things such as:
“I am stupid”
“This is stupid!”
“I am not doing this, you can’t make me!”

He uses stupidity to avoid any effort whatsoever. The mistaken concept the child believes is “I’m worthless and hopeless” (Children the Challenge).  At this point,  Mother is tempted to become frustrated and react and pile more expectations on the child or the opposite-expect nothing and there is no disappointment.

Watch for Part II of the Frustration Circle and some practical solutions and Biblical encouragement! 

The Will

The will is a powerful force. It leads the way, commands behavior, it makes kingdoms rise and fall.

A strong willed child is disobedient, hard to get along with, tries to take the reigns at every turn. At least that is the philosophy I learned in my early parenting, until I was introduced to Charlotte Mason’s writing. From her I learned that the child I just described is weak willed. He has difficulty directing his will. His flesh is in control. This is the child that cannot sit and stay on task, does not do what you ask immediately but instead argues and fusses at any request. His will is weak.

“The will is the controller of the passions and emotions, the
director of the desires, the ruler of the appetites” (Vol. 1, p. 319).- Charlotte Mason

Earlier today, I overheard one of my children instructing his father on how to discipline him.

“Dad, don’t do that! You can’t do that! So, what did I do? I don’t get it! What’s the big deal?” He did get it. He knew the what the problem was. He knew he had name called, been disrespectful and disobedient. He didn’t want to pay the piper. His will was weak. He challenged authority because he struggles with having authority over himself.

A child with a weak will is undisciplined. Outer discipline trains for inner discipline. An undisciplined child lives by the “pleasure principle”. He may be willing to do something if it is fun or immediately rewarding. This is exhausting and achieves no character or significant learning in the child. (Ruth Beechik)

A weak willed child only does a task if he feels like doing it. He is likely to freeze frame when the parent leaves the room because he has no inner resolution to complete the task. This a fifteen minute bedroom cleaning session can turn into hours of agony for the parent. This same child will give into his appetites- eating an entire bag of cookies, stealing sugary sweets from his siblings and lying about it, chowing down on a whole box of granola bars, etc…

“The passions, the desires, the appetites, are there
already, and the will gathers force and vigour only as it is
exercised in the repression and direction of these” (Vol. 1,
p. 319).- Charlotte Mason

So, what is to be done to strengthen resolve and point the will in the right direction?

Watch for Part II of The Will!

Inflexibility

Yesterday, I was making Rafal’s school-day schedule. His schedule is important. If he doesn’t have it, he freaks out, sometimes even with it, he does.
We planned to do some yard work. Jerry told the kids to work on some school work until he was ready to work outside.
Rafal took one look at his list and said, “What, I can’t do all of this today! I thought we were going to work outside. Why do I have to do all of this?”

“Because, it’s a good day,” replied Jerry.

“We’ll do some of the schoolwork after the yard work,” I said with a smile.

Rafal’s response? Anger. Indignation-one of his vocab words for this week.

He had finished his Bible study, so I got out his math. He suddenly forgot how to find common denominators, which we had been working on for two weeks. Not to mention, it is review from last year.

He slammed things around and said, “I have no clue how to do this!” He closed his math book and said, “I just won’t do it.”

Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child, argues that outbursts “arise from developmental delays in three areas: flexibility, frustration tolerance, and problem solving.” He calls them “lagging skills”. When a child doesn’t know how to be flexible, he cannot adjust to changes in schedule. A change can send him into an angry tizzy.

Rafal’s reaction to the schedule change (even though he had a blast raking/blowing leaves) was anger. The anger prevented him from remembering a math skill. What he really was saying through his outburst was, “I am not flexible. I don’t know how to handle this change in my schedule. I don’t know what to do.”

Many children have this inflexibility issue, some call it inability to change gears, or wanting to control the environment, whatever you call it, the anger can cause problems for the whole family. Children born prematurely, raised in an orphanage for a period of time, FAS or RAD children may have this “lagging skill”. It cannot be lectured out of existence. I know, I’ve tried logic, it doesn’t work.

The solution? Patience. I have to work on not getting frustrated myself-not being flexible to his inflexibility! Second, I have to help him work on this skill. He has made progress. Yesterday, he slammed shut a math book. A year ago, he would have run off into the woods behind our house and hid.

This afternoon, I talked to him about trying counting to five after he was asked a question that would alter his schedule. For instance,when we were out doing yard work, he had the broom. Hunter asked for it ‘for a sec’ to finish the remnant of a pile on the sidewalk. Rafal went crazy yelling “no” and he grabbed a log from the firewood stack and launched it at Hunter. Okay, not so great at the flexibility or the problem solving. After he calmed down, we talked about his exaggerated reaction and how the counting could help.

“Would letting Hunter use the broom for thirty seconds kill you or hurt you?”

*Pause*

“No.”

“Right, that it why it is better to count and think before hurling a log at someone.”

He laughed. Progress.