We had just sat down to start our morning Bible Study when a fight broke out between two of my teen girls. We’d finalized their adoption a few months prior, and this semester was the first time they’d been homeschooled. More than that, this was the first time they’d spent so much time together. In public school they’d been in different classes. Now, not only was I asking them to be able to sit and learn, they were “forced” to be around each other all day, every day.
“Are you kidding me?” My voice rose in frustration. “You guys are making all that fuss over a pencil? Why can’t you, for once, get a long? Learning together can be fun if you give it a chance. I’m tired of spending so much of the day just trying to make everyone get along.”
The words were barely out of my mouth when the argument started again. Instead of reading the devotional book that had come with our curriculum, I pulled out my Bible and shared about the Fruit of the Spirit.
“No one can change on their own,” I told them. “But we can change when we give Jesus control of our lives. And when He does, love, joy, peace … and all of the rest of these things come out.”
It took over an hour to deal with the conflict, yet at the end of our talk all of my kids were able to settle down a learn. During our homeschooling day anger is never fun to deal with, but as I worked through the issue with my kids I realized a few things:
1. Homeschool is as much about moral training as educational teaching. My adopted kids had learned in school. They could read, recite basic history, and could add and subtract. Yet their teachers hadn’t worked on moral training. Even though it takes time, ethical, virtuous and righteous training wasn’t something they’d gotten in school.
It’s perfectly alright to pause the bookwork to spend time with moral training. Better yet, parents can develop a time at the beginning of the homeschool day to focus on the moral training first.
Take the time to train your children, using God’s Word, on how to respond to their mounting emotions, instead of just disciplining or responding to each circumstance … this is learning too! Invest yourself in training, and you’ll spend less time in conflict resolution.
2. A peaceful homeschool starts with a peaceful mama heart. The truth is sometimes my kids are anxious, angry or frustrated because of my unrealistic demands and my attitudes. There were/are times I wake up impatient and grumpy. When my kids are having a bad day, I need to look at myself. I need to take time in God’s Word myself.
If you find yourself angry or frustrated in your homeschooling, take time to settle your heart before God. Seek His Truth. Seek His peace. Ask God to take away your impatience, grumpiness or anger.
Prayerfully seek to be a positive role model for your kids. And even when there are times when we can’t control our kids, we can control ourselves. Homeschooling is a microscope in which every part of our character will be examined. Our kids can learn how to handle anger in the right way when we model it for them.
3. Often there is an unmet need behind the anger. Sometimes I have unrealistic expectations, and I’m asking too much of my kids. Other times the anger is nothing about the moment. It may be simmering from a fight with a neighborhood kid the day before. It may be from a loss or disruption in the child’s life. It may be because the child is hungry, tired, or physically hurting. While we should never excuse a child’s hurtful words or actions, it does help to figure out the “why” behind the anger and help meet the need. Anger is often a cry for help for understanding, for a listening ear, or to have a physical need met.
Anger may also come because we’re trying to cram too much into our homeschooling day or we’ve trying to force a curriculum that doesn’t work with our family. Slowing down and simplifying the schoolwork may be just what everyone needs.
See anger as a “welcome mat” telling you to enter your child’s world. Seek out your child’s heart, build a relationship, and figure out what’s really going on. Also, work with your child to create an “anger log” and figure out what’s really making your child mad. Taking a look at the reasons behind the anger can help you find a fix so your child is less likely to explode next time.
I’ve learned a lot as I’ve dealt with anger in our homeschooling, and I’m so glad I did. What we teach about all subjects—including anger—is something that will be with our kids for life. If they can learn to control their anger now it will help them for a lifetime.
If you’d like to learn more about how to help your kids, check out Calming Angry Kids by Tricia Goyer. Tricia offers insight from babies to teens. It’s a wonderful resource for every parent!
Tricia Goyer is author of more than 70 books, she writes both fiction and nonfiction related to family and parenting. This USA-Today Best-selling Author has also won a two Carol Awards and a Retailer’s Best Award. She was also an ECPA Gold-Medallion Nominee and a Christy Award Nominee and won Writer of the Year from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference.
A beloved author of Amish fiction, as well, having written the Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. She has spoken at events such as MomCon, Raising Generations, and Teach Them Diligently conferences and is host of the podcast, Walk It Out.
A homeschooling mom of ten, including seven by adoption, Tricia is also a grandmother of four and wife to John. With a busy life she understands the importance of making every moment count.