Some children are a challenge to homeschool, but often those are the very children who have the potential to teach us more than we could ever teach them! Learn how to homeschool the difficult child with more compassion and fewer tears!
This post is sponsored by Sonlight.
“He doesn’t listen to me!” she cried on my shoulder. My friend had just lived through another exhausting day as a homeschool mom with a child who spent most of his homeschooling hours arguing and complaining.
She would beg and plead and bribe, but more often than not, her son wore her down and made her doubt her ability to homeschool him. She wondered where she’d gone wrong and if the only answer now was to put him back in a traditional school setting where someone else could deal with him.
She desperately wanted a peaceful homeschool experience, but this child seemed bent on creating chaos and discord.
And I completely understood her plight…even more than I cared to admit.
Homeschooling children who are difficult, disrespectful, and downright defiant can be a challenge capable of tearing down even the strongest of mothers. So how do you homeschool the children who push their limits and push your buttons?
Start with Prayer
Homeschooling brings us to our knees…a lot. Homeschooling a difficult child KEEPS us on our knees! There is power in prayer and God is faithful to help us (and our child) through difficulties.
When you don’t know where to start or where to go, shut yourself in your bedroom, the bathroom, or your garage and just cry out to the Lord. More often than not, answers immediately follow.
Build the relationship
All too often, when we don the homeschool teacher hat, we remove the mom hat. We are so focused on education and academics, we miss the real reason we brought the kids home in the first place – to disciple and love them!
You have to get back to the basics and work on your relationship with your difficult child, rather than spending all your energy fighting with them over homeschooling.
A child who does not respect you as a mother isn’t likely to listen to you as a teacher. And chances are, your difficult child is actually craving time with you as a mother. Invest more time and energy in strengthening your relationship with them whenever you see them digging their heels in.
Sonlight is a great way to help build a relationship with your difficult child. Use the read-alouds as a time to connect. Let your difficult child sit near you while you read. Ask them questions. Let them know you value them and their input. LEARN MORE ABOUT SONLIGHT HERE >>
ALSO READ >> How to Balance Being Mom and Homeschool Teacher
Responsibility = Privileges (and vice-versa)
One thing that many children don’t understand is the concept of responsibilities and privileges. We have to patiently teach this to them over and over again, explaining that they can’t get their own way when they aren’t taking responsibility for the tasks in their domain.
A difficult child will often want to do things like play video games or go out with friends in lieu of doing school work. In order to guide your child toward maturity, you have to stay the course with not allowing privileges until responsibilities are taken care of.
Make sure all responsibilities are lined out (and possibly even printed out and posted somewhere), so that when your child tries to buck the system, it’s the system and not you who responds.
It’s not easy to constantly point your child back to the right path, but it’s what Scripture asks of us…
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Grace & Restoration
Our job isn’t to simply survive our son or daughter’s childhood. We are to constantly be discipling them and pointing them toward Christ.
We mirror the grace and restoration the Lord offers.
When you see bad behaviors in your child, it is an opportunity to love them through it. Now, I realize this isn’t the easiest thing to do. If you can, wait until things have calmed down to discuss the deeper issues. Everyone needs to cool off so that each side can be heard.
Once things are calm, work toward a common understanding. Empathize with your child, share your own struggles, and always point them toward Christ’s redeeming love.
It might be the curriculum…or not…
It’s easy to blame curriculum when we have a child who is railing against their school work. In fact, many of us spend copious amounts of time and energy combing the internet for just the right program for our difficult child (a true testament to a mother’s love!).
For help in deciding if the curriculum is the problem, READ >>
Outsourcing is not a failure
Homeschool moms are fiercely independent. It’s a good trait to have, BUT it sometimes mean we don’t seek help when we truly need it. We figure we can fix this ourselves when truthfully, we are in over our heads.
You haven’t failed if you find yourself needing to outsource certain subjects to an online platform or a tutor or a co-op. However, never forfeit your relationship with your child in the process! (go back to point #2)
Keep on seeking
Never give up! There are answers and help. And don’t be afraid to ASK OTHER MOMS! Don’t hide your struggle because you never know who has walked this path before you and is more than happy to offer suggestions and resources you never even knew about!
Honestly, every parent finds themselves parenting through difficult circumstances with children who are being less than reasonable. Since the dawn of creation, there have been difficult children. (ahem…Adam & Eve?) Homeschooling isn’t an inoculation against sin. (ahem…look in the mirror.) Just keep steady and focused on the Lord. The answers and consolation are there.