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How to Handle Tears and Frustration in Your Homeschool

Teen frustrated with lessons

Do spelling lessons make your child want to throw her pencil across the room? Do tears seem to go hand-in-hand with learning to read? Are you walking on eggshells, wondering how the “dreaded” subject will go today?

When kids struggle, moms tend to blame themselves …

I must not know how to teach this subject…
maybe I shouldn’t be teaching!

… or they blame their child …

She’s just lazy. He doesn’t pay attention.
My children don’t apply themselves.

It’s truly difficult to work with a child who just shuts down. Merry Marinello is a veteran homeschool mom and is part of our customer service team here at All About Learning Press. In this post, Merry offers 9 tips for dealing with tears and frustrations in your homeschool.

Here’s Merry …

1. Don’t be afraid to take a break when your child has reached a critical point. Stop and have a snack or eat some lunch, then sit down later and have a casual conversation. “So, I’ve noticed spelling really upsets you sometimes. Why is that?” Dig around until you find some of the frustration points, and don’t necessarily try to solve the problem right then—mainly listen and sympathize. “You’re right, that part of spelling is really hard.” During the course of your conversation, you might find out something that will help you address issues with your child in the future. He might make a comment about a particular curriculum that pushes him over the edge, or you may be able to get an understanding of what he thinks your expectations are. You might even learn something about how he views himself.

2. After listening to your child’s frustrations, open up dialogue with your child. Ask him what would help when he gets frustrated. Sometimes my children weren’t sure what would help, so I would talk with them about a “self-control toolbox.” We all have frustrations, but how do we deal with them? How does Daddy deal with them? How does Mommy? I remember one day I was late for something and couldn’t find my car keys, and suddenly it clicked—I was modeling how to have a full-blown temper tantrum!

Mom looking frustrated

Yup, that’s me, having a full-blown temper tantrum.

Normally, I’m pretty calm and pleasant, but overwhelm me in a few ways, and there I was ranting and crying over lost car keys. (I laugh about it now!) So the self-control toolbox was a good reminder to me, too! Am I perfect? Nope. Are you perfect? Nope. Let’s not expect perfection from our children, either. Can we grow and learn to be more self-controlled? Absolutely—I started working on it and continue to do so.

3. For our “self-control toolbox,” I suggested a number of items, such as get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, go for a short walk, shoot some hoops for five minutes, lay down for five to ten minutes, ask for help, pray, and so on, and then we would come back to try again. A mini-tramp or regular trampoline would be good in this situation, too. These activities let children burn off some adrenaline so that they can relax. My son would say he felt like punching something, so I suggested his pillow. But mostly I try to encourage my children toward exercise or appropriate chores—something they can use their muscles to do or something to accomplish. We tried jumping jacks and marching, too. I found marching to be particularly helpful, and any exercise that encourages right-left brain connection might also be useful.

4. Discuss the concept that we all have different gifts and abilities, and we all have things that we really have to work hard at. Good examples could include swimming or music lessons, learning to ride a bike, learning to tie shoelaces, and so on. Try to find something that your child can relate to. Then give examples of things that you have to work hard at yourself. For example, I was recently trying to figure out how to change some things with my website, and I had to read some articles multiple times to even understand whether the “solution” applied to my situation! This type of example can be helpful for a child.

5. Keep the funnel concept in mind. Some subjects can require multiple steps, and when a subject brings in new concepts, you might need to spend the first day or two reviewing previous concepts. Then, on the third day, you might be able to work through the new teaching. In the case of All About Spelling, some students may need explicit demonstrations of all ten new words after doing some review. Take time to help your student as much as needed. If you need to walk through every math problem with your child before he or she tries out a new algorithm, that’s okay. If reading is a struggle, find out why 34% of children struggle with learning to read, and then see what you can do to help. Remember, children with learning disabilities are working ten times harder to accomplish less than those without disabilities. Sometimes it doesn’t look like work on the outside, so it’s good for us to try to remember that it is work for them.

6. Try to be a bit intuitive and “predict” problems before they happen. If you can make the exercise seem “game-like” and not “test-like” for your child, it will really help. Some kids are such perfectionists that they hate for anyone to see them mess up—and when you combine that kind of trait with learning struggles or a disability, it’s a tough combination to work through. Sometimes you can head this off by clearly defining your expectations ahead of time.

7. Experiment, think through what you do when frustrated, and see if those things could help your child—or maybe you’ll find things to work on yourself, as I did! Think of it as trying to find your child’s “reset button.” What will help your child reset when he or she feels out of control like this?

8. Let your children know you are on their side, and that together you can find ways to make things work. Spelling, math, and other tough subjects aren’t optional, but you can work together to find solutions. I told my kids that this meant that I would listen and make accommodations—and it also meant that they would try to learn self-control, be willing to try hard things, and try to communicate with me when things were too difficult.

9. You may find additional help in our online Resource Center. We also provide free lifetime support for all our programs. If you hit a trouble spot, please don’t hesitate to email us, and we’ll help you come up with a solution. Some days are really rough. Hang in there!

Happy mother and daughter

If your kids (or you!) are experiencing tears and frustration over reading or spelling, be sure to check out the free e-book, “20 Best Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling.”

Free report - '20 Best Tips for Teaching Reading and Spelling'

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Leave a Comment

Janet Belcher

says:

Thank you for your advice and for the reminder that our children watch how we handle things. We can all learn better self control.

Miranda

says:

Great article especially as we hit the exhaustion in the Spring

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Miranda,
In our home, we call them the “Mid-Year Doldrums”. One way I have successfully fought them is to add something new to our days this time a year, particularly something hands-on and fun. This year it was a new science book with lots of experiments, but some years it has been art projects, lapbooks, or musical instruments.

Barbara

says:

Thanks for sharing

Kimberly

says:

These are great tips! There have definiteley been tears during our school days over the years at certain times and it is great to have more tools to help diffuse those rough spots. Happy to report though that tears have never stemmed from doing spelling with AAS!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kimberly,
We are happy to hear that there have never been tears in your family from AAS!

Jodi

says:

Thanks for the great tips!

Barbara Quesenberry

says:

Thanks for the tips! These are very real struggles and part of homeschooling. I appreciate the ideas and encouragement.

Alpine Aupair

says:

These are great tips!

Sara

says:

Thanks for the free tips. Looking forward to trying a program to increase our success.

Lori

says:

Love these tips. Already implement some and happy to learn more!

Alicia

says:

Thanks for the tips! Spelling is hard and frustrating to us both!

Ashlea

says:

Thanks for the ideas!

Melodie

says:

I definitely need this program!

Cassie DiStefano

says:

Thanks! Great tips!

Learning should be enjoyable.

mia

says:

My son struggles with reading and can get frustrated, I am going to try the self control toolbox idea. Thanks.

Gale

says:

Very good tips. I often keep snacks on the table ready for when my child needs some “brain food.” (That’s what I say “Hey…seems like your brain needs some fuel. Lets have a snack and see if that helps.”

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gale,
I like your “brain food” idea! However, I prefer to keep the snacks in the kitchen, as it is both a snack break and a get up from the table and move around break to get a bite to eat.

Christi

says:

Great tips! Thanks!

Diana Moxcey

says:

Great tips we can all benefit from!

Jo

says:

Wow! Great way to name it….self control toolbox! We’ve been figuring these things out as a homeschool family but didn’t have a ” cool name” for it. Thanks for your transparency and practical perspective, it’s refreshing and encouraging.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You are welcome, Jo.

Joy Belcher

says:

The book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck really helped me frame struggle from my kids and piano students. It’s good for them to know that when they work hard to learn, their brains grow more neural connections. It helps keep me motivated, too.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Joy,
Yes! I often have this talk about the importance of wrestling with learning with my own homeschooled children and with the students I teach in high school co-op.

However, it is a fine balance. The hormones and emotions involved with full frustration block learning. On the other hand, if things are always easily grasped, higher level thinking and processing are hindered. The goal of a good teacher, and then later the student themselves, is to find the spot in the middle where the best learning can take place.

Stefanie M

says:

Great advice!

The kid must have time for himself doing sports, yoga, or Zomba. Playing music or painting. Cooking or just watch comedy movies.

We always hit “pause” on schoolwork when things get tough for my kids. I remember the wise words of Heidi St. John from a few years ago — “Relationships trump books.” She said that we should never let a textbook come between homeschoolers and their children. I have practiced this and have been blessed by this advice!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

“Relationships trump books.” I love that, Jennifer. Thank you!

Liz Reyes

says:

Great tips, I love the self-control toolbox!! Thanks!!

Teresa

says:

Thanks for posting!

Kerri Wartnik

says:

Thank you for such practical tips! Homeschooling is much better with the support that All About Learning gives. Having a daughter with dyslexia in 9th grade, I appreciate this more than you know!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kerri,
I am so very pleased to hear that you feel supported from us! That is what we are aiming to provide, and it is wonderful to know we are succeeding. Thank you.

Janelle

says:

AAR has helped my daughter so much! Thank you!

Bridgett

says:

AAR and AAS have been my favorite curriculum to use with my youngest! His reading accelated so quickly one we started using it!

Jenna

says:

All About Spelling has improved my daughters confidence and ability.

Sarah

says:

Breaks are definitely a life saver here!

Lisa

says:

Taking breaks really help my boys! There are also some days that we have to keep lessons short and sweet…they retain more sometimes on those days :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Excellent point, Lisa! Short lessons are powerful! That is why we recommend just 20 minutes a day in reading and spelling.

Victoria

says:

Always worthwhile to read your blog posts!!!

Bree

says:

Thank you for these wonderful suggestions

Maggie

says:

Thanks for the post!

Nancy C.

says:

This has been hard. Great article! But, with calming down, simplifying and lots of patience we have gotten through.

Sarah

says:

Good suggestions! I’ve definitely had those days…lol

Faith

says:

Thanks for the great tips. My crew can be a challenge to teach at times.

Heather

says:

Thank you for the encouragement!

Sarah

says:

My kids love All About Spelling so it is not hard to get them to do their lessons!

Ashlei

says:

So thankful for this program. Made my 4 year old join in!

Lee

says:

We have loved this program. My daughter now cant get enough reading!

Alex Fisher

says:

Couldn’t agree more with #1! but I think it should say when the child or parent has reached a critical point lol

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, this is a good suggestion, Alex. Thank you!

Cheryn Rene Preiss

says:

Yes! We have a mini trampoline just outside the school room. We use Spelling / Vocabulary City to work on concepts and vocabulary to break up the lessons with reinforcement and fun.

Kathy D

says:

I love this. I am going to try this with my kids when they get frustrated with any subject. I also need to apply this in my own life!

Patty K Hackler

says:

I’ve been looking at AAS and AAR, but haven’t taken the plunge. Thanks for the encouragement!

Katie O

says:

Enjoyable article. Thanks for sharing!

Betty

says:

Great things to keep in mind.

Mary slaugenhoup

says:

Thanks for the good reminders!

Melissa

says:

We do 5 minute breaks, but I’ve never thought of A5 minute distraction like basketball etc.

Lori LaBarbera

says:

My son has grown leaps & bounds since starting All about reading last year. Very pleased!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lori,
Thank you for letting us know that All About Reading has worked so well for your son!

Heidi

says:

Thanks! This is very encouraging!

Tonya Williams

says:

Great article! Thank you!

Heather

says:

I incorporate me breaks when she needs it and it really really lessens the frustration she feels with sitting still and completing assignments

Rebecca

says:

I love when moms are real like in this article. So thank you for being real :)

Dana

says:

I hope this program will help us!

Autumn

says:

This was a timely article for me. Thank you!

Kristin Burton

says:

Thanks for the awesome advice!

Almost done with AAS1. He is doing great so far and enjoys program

Adrienne

says:

AAR makes learning so much fun, my kids looked forward to it everyday and still have the alphabet notebooks they made.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Adrienne,
My kids still have their alphabet notebooks from the Pre-reading level too, and they are reading chapter books now! At this point, I will be keeping them for nostalgia purposes.

Julie

says:

I need to print this out and put it in the front of our math book! Thanks

Laura O.

says:

Looks like a great program, we like the Reading program a lot.

Deborah

says:

These are some fabulous tips. Thank you!

J

says:

My son is a tender soul. He can get his emotions all tangled up in his successes and failures. This really helped. Thank you.

Kathy Brennan

says:

Encouraging and helpful!

Pamela H.

says:

Thank you. These are great tips!

Carrie

says:

I love All About Spelling and using your program has cut down on the stress of spelling at our house.

Jennifer

says:

I love that I’m not the only mom who has her own home school temper tantrum.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Oh, you definitely aren’t the only one, Jennifer! I need a “self-control toolbox” near at hand too.

Melissa

says:

Great blog post with lots of helpful information. I have been using All About Spelling with my dyslexic son for a couple of years now, and I tell everyone it’s been the best thing to ever happen to us. Understanding the rules of spelling help him so much.

Arla Vavra

says:

Very insightful suggestions. I am going to implement a self control tool box asap! Thanks for the idea!

Gayle B

says:

Taking a break definitely helps us, we usually, run around outside for a while, and then they are able to come back and focus on the difficult task.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Gayle,
Physical activity is a great way to reset frustration levels! My kids like to ride their bikes or scooters.

Melissa

says:

Helpful info!

Tawnya

says:

Breaks are my fav!

sheryl warren

says:

I have never tried this

Melissa S

says:

Very helpful hints. I hope a few of them will work for us.

Shannon Lunser

says:

Oh boy! I needed this!

Corrine Harris

says:

Love the self control tool box ideas.

Nance

says:

Great tips. We try most of these, at different times.

Beth

says:

Thank you for posting – I know I have looked like your picture before – I hope my kids forget those in their head & remember my kinder ones. I need to be reminded of these things at least 1 or 2 times during the school year!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Beth,
I think we can all use occasional reminders!

Colleen

says:

Great tips, thanks!

T Chorn

says:

We’ve all been there!

Amanda Madison

says:

Awesome ideas thank you!

Thank you for the great ideas.

Stacy Lee

says:

Thank you. I love this program.

Amy

says:

In my experience, short lessons seem to be better. Thank you for the post!

Kacie

says:

I needed this post. I love the part about taking a break. I will try to remember and initiate this daily.

Gwen

says:

Thank you for this timely article. :)

Katharine

says:

Useful tips, thanks

Kristen B

says:

Thank you for sharing!

Angie

says:

Thank you for the very helpful (and timely!) post! I’ll be passing on the article to my homeschool group as some people have mentioned struggling with this.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Angie,
Yes, it is the time of year when homeschoolers do tend to struggle more. I’ve seen people chalk it up to cabin fever and the winter weather, but we experience down here in sunny Arizona as well. Encouragement from the homeschool community is an excellent way to combat it!

Patricia

says:

Nice tips! I passed this on to a mom who has been struggling with homeschoolinh lately.

jennifer G

says:

This is a real issue for us. Very informative article. I will give some of these a try!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
If these ideas don’t work, or if you need more ideas, please let us know.

Robin Bailey

says:

Great information. Thanks so much.

Very helpful a break always helps. The time gives child to calm down.

Debra Ann Elliott

says:

This is great advice. Thank you for sharing.

Kayla

says:

The self-control toolbox is genius. Thank you! I needed this today.

Anita

says:

Great tips! I’ve never heard of the self-control toolbox before. Great idea!

Kathy

says:

My dyslexic son was very sensitive and so frustrated. Often lessons would end in tears or anger or complete refusal to do anything. We had a box of emotions storybooks–I got a set of them from Scholastic and added the Alexander books and a few others. Snuggling up with “The Blue Book” and a hug helped, and we sometimes played the “mad game” after reading “When Sonia gets Angry,” by stomping around and beating our chests and grunting like King Kong . Usually this caused giggles and we could get back to work. A couple of spins around the backyard would help.

In just about every subject,, esp. math and language arts, we would do OK for awhile and hit a wall of some sort, where we would try, try, try and make no progress. So I would put it away for a bit and do something else, or actually completely switch for a while. Just about everything I ever tried did not have enough practice for him, and try that for awhile. I was an early adopter of AAS, and I paired it with Phonics Pathways and other word lists to add more practice. Sometimes he just wasn’t ready (took years to make it to syllabication) and we went back to it weeks, months, sometimes even a year later.

But I have to admit, sometimes I wondered if he was playing me to avoid doing work. Took lots of hugs and encouragement, trying different approaches, and finding activities he could shine in, like Cub Scouts, to get over the humps. Sometimes we both felt like crying and just went on a field trip or some sort of outing. I ended up being much more of an unschooler than my fellow Moms, focusing on reading and math and following his interests in the rest, and learned to accept that he just did not fit any mold, although that made my job super hard.

Kathy

says:

Forgot to mention that we had a bowl of stress balls of all sorts, as well as some playdough and cloth and other stuff we could use when he felt frustrated or needed to fidget. That helped quite a lot.

Bonnie

says:

Wow you are a very strong person and good parent! Thank you for sharing!

Kathy C.

says:

Thanks, I needed to hear that today. He is 18 and in college and still has his struggles and still can’t decode words in isolation, but his reading comprehension is excellent.

I never quite figured out how he learned to read–he couldn’t really read past 1-2nd grade level until 6th grade and it ,just sort of finally clicked in 7th grade, and he then was suddenly able to read college-level stuff, like Plato and Thomas Paine. When that happened, he stopped listening to ‘ol Mom and insisted on going to regular school without accommodations or tutoring. It has been a rocky road, but he got through it. Just about every teacher, special educator, coach, etc.. he has had says that they have never had a student like him–so bright, so intuitive, so skewed in abilities. Fortunately he had some excellent teachers and a fantastic scoutmaster to mentor him.

In the early days I was tearing my hair out with IEPs and coping with the fall-out from bullies, so we had a lot of emotional baggage to go through when we started homeschooling in 3rd grade. His handwriting looked like Martian, his spelling bore no relationship to the words, and he was very, very slow to complete assignments. We ended up doing most of our homeschooling verbally so he wouldn’t get all bogged down with the mechanics. I would read the instructions and take dictation to fill out worksheets,, to write stories, and create PowerPoint presentations together, and to write out math problems as he used cards, rods and the abacus. Using large scale graph paper (free templates are available online) helped with writing numbers and keeping things lined up. He loved history, so we did the history of English, math, science etc… and did lots of unit studies. We switched to itallic handwriting in 5th grade and gradually did more handwritten work. His handwriting is still terrible, but good enough to get by.

We also listened to a lot of stories and lectures, especially in the car, and had classical music on most of the time, which he found calming. I didn’t realize how important this was until we spent a summer in a home without a radio and he was going nuts not having anything to listen to!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Kathy,
Thank you so much for posting this. I am sure this will encourage others!

Jennifer Roselli

says:

Some really fantastic ideas! Thank you all about learning for all your work.

lisa

says:

These are good ideas I like the marching idea. Crawling through an obstacle course would also provide right/left brain connection.

Melissa

says:

When I see the frustration building, we take a break.

Lisa Mann

says:

We’ve Tried Rewriting Words Lots, Saying Them Over And Over, Writing Them In Dirt, Every thing Then We Found This Series, Amazing! And really works! We need level 7 to complete our set.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lisa,
We are so pleased to know that All About Spelling has worked so well for your student! Thank you for letting us know.

Karen

says:

All good ideas. Thanks

Jaime B

says:

I really like the idea of the “self-control toolbox”. I have one child, in particular, who can really benefit from this idea!

Donna

says:

When I experience opposition I really try to disengage from the conversation and not make it personal.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great advice, Donna. Thank you.

Rajeeva Jayaratne

says:

interesting ideas. thanks a lot.

Megan Thomas

says:

The self-control toolbox is a great idea! Thanks!

Takia

says:

Looks like a great program cannot wait to try it in the fall.

Angie L

says:

Love using All About Spelling! It has cut down our frustration!

Angie Langford

says:

Love using All About Spelling! It has cut down our frustration!

Erica L

says:

Very informative! We will be starting spelling this fall and these tips will come in handy at some point I’m sure.

Ashley

says:

Snacks always help.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Ashely,
Yes! Thank you for the reminder that hungry and frustrated can oh, so often go together.

Mary Foltz

says:

We always need these helpful reminders….thanks!

katie

says:

This was helpful timing as I and my daughter just hit the frustration point in reading/phonics lessons today

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Katie,
I’m sorry your daughter and you had frustrating lessons today, but I am glad that this article was timely for you. Here is hoping tomorrow is better!

I am not a home-schooler, but I do use the All About Reading and All About Spelling with my tutoring students. Both programs are very effective!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Renee,
We have many tutors using our programs successfully. Please let us know if you ever need anything!

Thanks for all your great advice! Making activities game-like has been a huge help to us!

Judy Christensen

says:

Excellent information, I have printed it, to keep as quick, easy reference.

Muhammad Ilyas

says:

Nice and helpful article

Helen

says:

Great tips! Thank you.

B

says:

This article has great tips! I will try some of these with my 5-year-old and 14-year-old.

Sara

says:

I found that being flexible and dropping a few subjects went a long way. They didn’t feel so overwhelmed now.

Jenna

says:

Great tips!

Sharon Ellington

says:

Great advice!

KC

says:

Very helpful!

Krista Bennett

says:

This post had some great thoughts. I hope to start using AAS this next year.

D

says:

Thank you for the insight. It is very timely.

Sarah

says:

This was just what I needed this morning! My 9 year old is having a rough time. We are in the middle of diagnosing, so the full picture of his LDs are not totally revealed. I am a ‘list’ type gal. I need to hear over and over that homeschooling him is going to need to be outside of the ‘box’. I need to put away my list and have some fun today. He has requested science projects that explode. So that’s what’s on the adgenda for today.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sarah,
Have fun with your science experiments! One warning: If he decides to test which acid (vinegar or lemon juice) reacts more violently with baking soda by mixing the baking soda with each acid in a one-liter bottle while standing in your pantry… Well, make sure he knows he will need to clean the ceiling if a mess is made. This is from personal experience. Sigh.

Christina

says:

Great post!

Simah

says:

Thank you for the ideas!

Katie

says:

Great suggestions. Thanks!

Melissa

says:

Thank you for all of these great tips! We definitely benefit from the trampoline and outdoor breaks!! While homeschooling can be frustrating at times, it is also very rewarding.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Melissa,
Homeschooling is extremely rewarding! The trick is to not let the frustrating times overshadow that.

Shannon Soehl

says:

Wow, this is very timely. Even though we have homeschooled for 17 years, we still run into frustration. When it happens to be a terrible no good day for everyone, I throw in the towel and we get outside. Works every time.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Shannon,
Yes! Going outside reduces frustration like magic.

Bonnie

says:

Thank you I normally feel overwhelmed.

Hope Ryan

says:

When I see frustration coming, we usually move. I default to having my student (homeschool) stand on a chair, spell a word/answer a question/calculate a math problem, then jump off. After about 10 of those, we can sit down — or if it is successful in the learning, we just keep jumping.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Hope,
I, too, have found movement very helpful for dealing with frustration. I like your chair jumping solution!

Kansas mom

says:

These are great tips for handling frustration and trying to understand your child. I like the resting option, esp when we just had the time change here. We have races around the back yard to burn some energy and breathe some fresh air.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I have found movement like your races to be very helpful for frustration! Sometimes one or more of us have to “take a walk”, even if it is just to the kitchen.

Darlene Jaeger

says:

This is great. Such a helpful reminder.

Beth Budelier

says:

Merry you’re wealth of wisdom! Thank you for this post!

Shannon Simpkins

says:

I love the idea of a self-control toolbox for myself and everyone in my family!

Lisa Dorsett

says:

Thank you for sharing. We have our moments in homeschooling. This was very informative and encouraging! 😄

Katy

says:

Really nice tips. I didnt know you have a resource center, I’ll have to look at that too!

Emily Main

says:

Good ideas. My kids, er I, can really use them. 😉

Karen

says:

Thanks, Merry! Glad to know I’m not the only one who has temper tantrums. I’m still working on it.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Karen,
Merry is such an amazing, sweet person, so it kind of shocked me to think of her having a temper tantrum when I first read this. Yet, at the same time, it was kind of comforting to know that she has them too. So, I understand what you mean!

Erika P

says:

Thank you for this post!!! I often feel like a failure when my kids “don’t want to read” or “cry over math” or “crumple up the math worksheet” or just completely shut down and tell me how much they “hate school”!!! I try to keep myself from getting discouraged because I know my main goal is to help them learn how to gain a sense of control and how to find what works for them! Thank you for this!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Erika,
You are not a failure if your kids get frustrated. Everyone gets frustrated at some time or another, so it is to be expected that your children will too. What matters much more is how you and your children deal with frustration.

I’m pleased that you found this post helpful. Let us know if you need anything.

Dee Anne

says:

Wonderful suggestions for those days filled with frustrations!

Lynn

says:

Thanks for this article. My 9.5 year old son is easily frustrated with anything he considers “hard”. He is currently going through vision therapy, and it is helping his reading, he says that the lines don’t move around now for the first 5 minutes of reading time. So, I’ve started breaking up his reading into small 5 minute chunks throughout the day. It has helped a lot, though he really doesn’t want to do more than one 5 minute block. Visual memory is better as well, he will sound out a word, and will usually remember it in the next line when it appears again. Step by step we are getting there. He’s reading books that are fairly easy for him (AAR level 1 and similar books) to develop his fluency and confidence, and I’m teaching the concepts in AAR level 2 but he can’t handle the full lesson with all the reading, it’s too frustrating at this point.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lynn,
It sounds like you are doing a great job making adaptations for your son’s unique needs! Keep up the great work!

And just so you know, many, maybe even most, students need more than than one day to complete most Lessons in All About Reading. There have been times when my daughter needed a week or more for one Lesson.

Lisa S

says:

My son is also 9.5 years old and going through vision therapy. Your comment is helpful and encouraging to me, I’m going to try breaking his lessons up like you have done for your son.

Jennifer

says:

rereading this article years after the last time I posted a comment – and it’s still good advice! :)

Nancy S.

says:

These are great suggestions for helping an easily frustrated child (or parent!). We utilize them to varying success. I feel discouraged sometimes though, because it feels to me that my sons are not developing work stamina. I do understand that my 12 yo 2E dyslexic is working so very hard (to do what generally is done at a significantly earlier age).

Robin E. at All About Learning Press

says: Customer Service

Nancy,
I understand. I have a 12 year old dyslexic son as well. We simply must teach our children where they are at, both in level and in ability to focus. Slowly, with ongoing consistency, their levels and their attention spans increase.

I find it helpful sometimes to keep the long term goal in mind. My son will likely not be ready for college English 101 at 16 year old, as his older siblings were, but he will get there. In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t matter a lot if he doesn’t get there until 2 or 3 years later. He will still get there.

I hope you can find encouragement to keep up the hard work. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

Sharon

says:

This is one we are battling a lot. I hope I can teach my kids to have better self control than I have. I have a very low frustration tolerance.

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Sharon,

I think most people would say that they wish they had more patience! I find with young kids especially, it can help to have some routines in place. Not a strict schedule per se, but a regular flow to the day with activities that the child knows to expect can really help. If your children are not readers yet, a picture-schedule with checkboxes or moveable velcro pieces can help them see what they need to do and how to move through their day. Even older kids will do better with a posted routine so that they know what to expect. With my kids, it was when they had large blocks of unplanned time that they tended to get in trouble! So, I tried to start with small blocks of free time mixed in with planned times of playing with things they enjoyed (puzzle time or game time or dress-up time etc…). That naturally fit with having a school routine too.

We used to have a code-word–“rooms.” This meant everyone go to their own room (if you have kids sharing a room, choose a predesignated spot where they can quietly look at books or play on their own). We used it if kids needed a “cool-down” time or if mom did! This was an easy way for me to not yell but gather myself and regain perspective, pray, and keep my eyes on what was important–our family relationships and helping each other communicate, work through conflicts, and mature.

Sometimes we need to go back to our kids and ask for forgiveness, just like we teach them to ask for forgiveness of each other. I found those times taught me and my kids a lot, and helped me try to do better.

And of course, the basic things that our mothers always told us are important: Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, drinking enough water, getting daily exercise…

Hang in there! Keep remembering how precious these children are. You are such a blessing to them as you teach and help them grow. They will learn even from our mistakes. And as they see you work on this issue, they will come to know that they too can work on it.

Thanks for the article! I’m really working on keeping my cool and modelling self control to my kiddos but it is HARD some days! Sometimes I feel like I’m allowing myself to view my kids as adversaries, but I need to focus on us being a TEAM, working together. We haven’t had any frustrations with our AAS though, we are at the end of level 1 and it’s a hit so far!

Merry at AALP

says:

I think that’s easy to slip into thinking we’re on opposite sides, but you’re exactly right–we’re really a team, struggling to learn how to work together. Conflicts can present opportunities to build bridges in our relationship with our kids or to build up walls between us, depending on how we respond. Keep working to build bridges–it’s so worth it!

Pamela

says:

Thanks for sharing! There have been a few tears shed here and there. OK OK OK maybe there’s been more then a few ;)
Merry has answered many of my questions with grace and never once made me feel like I was bothering her (even though I was convinced I was).

Merry at AALP

says:

Aw, thanks Pamela, you made my day! I really do love answering questions and helping to brainstorm solutions (and especially, hopefully, to lessen the number of tears shed! I think we all have bad days!) I love it when my email box is full of questions to make me think!

Lori

says:

Thanks for this article. There have been phases in our homeschool that involved lots of tears. Taking a break is sometimes a necessity.

Patricia

says:

Thanks for sharing your tips. I normally had my son go to his room to pray, but I plan to do something fun instead like go on the trampoline.

Carol F

says:

Wow! This is what I needed this morning! We were in tears just the other day, both my son and I. First year homeschooling and still finding our groove. This helps in many ways.
Thanks!

Lana

says:

Wise words Merry! Sometimes it’s hard to let go of my plans, whether for that lesson, the day or the subject. A couple years ago, my son was doing AAS Level One and hit a block. Once I was able to accept that we couldn’t march right on through like I had planned, I sought help on the forum and you gave me several little games and strategies to help us. So we camped out there for a while, he got it eventually and on we went. I so much appreciate the help you gave us and how well AAS has worked for my son and now my daughter too!

Sheila

says:

Thank you so much for All About Spelling. We have had many years of tears and frustration. I tried many curriculums and different teaching approaches with the same result – FAILURE; then I discovered All About Spelling. It has made a huge difference and the days of tears and frustration have turned into days of joy and excitement.

Sandi W

says:

These are good tips. We definitely had some frustration days last year–ready to try these ideas.

Nikki

says:

I like the idea of the toolbox for self-control to remind you there are choices when things are frustrating. Thanks for sharing!

Jacy

says:

Take a break and come back to it.

Heather

says:

When tears or frustration come our way, we try to take a break and do something silly or fun. Sometimes it just involves letting the kids make up a play together or play outside for a few minutes. It helps me to have a few minutes to recharge too. Also, ample hugs and encouragement go a long way to soothe frustrated spirits.

Christie

says:

To handle frustration….. we take a break. Our breaks usually have action in them. My son will hop around, crawl or march (to get the right/left brain working), etc, etc… We’ll come back to it later after our ‘fun’ break. Prayer also helps!

Cristina

says:

“That’s it……TICKLE FIGHT!!!!”

Merry

says:

LOL, my kids demand to be tickled daily!

Kim

says:

Give Hugs and relax :)

Brenna Laws

says:

Does it count if I’m the one in tears? lol

Jennifer

says:

One of the first things that I learned about handling my son’s frustration, (and my escalating frustration because of his frustration), was just to sit next to him on the couch and put my arm around him as we read, or worked through the problem. It is really hard to remain frustrated with your arm around your child – it reminds me we aren’t adversaries but a team. Kind of simple, but really, it was a huge help for us.

Merry

says:

LOVE this! I try to think about this concept in all of my parenting–we’re not adversaries, we’re on the same team. How can we work together?

Great post!

brandy

says:

we aren’t at the age where we are getting frustrated with school. If she *is* crying over something and trying to hold back, sometimes i just tell her to LET IT OUT! And she gives a good boo-hoo and is over it!

Brandy

says:

Take a break!!! Time out!!! Usually, when we hit this point it is good for us to take a moment to ourselves to calm down and get our mind on something else. As some time goes by we can come back to it with a clear mind.

Rochelle

says:

We take a break. We step away from the material that is frustrating my child at the moment so they don’t have to look at it and focus on it. I have them take some deep breaths to calm down. We then talk about it. Sometimes we’ll have a snack if I think it’s partially a hunger issue. I ask them to do their very best, but not to stress out if they don’t get it perfect right away. We’ll do a little bit more at a slower pace. If it goes better we’ll try some more. If they are still freaking out we take a longer break and switch to something else. We’ll either try again later that day or go for it the next day after a nice pep talk!

Shelley

says:

That could be a picture of me! Thanks for the great ideas:)

Michell Leonard

says:

Praise and reward for a job well done- when frustration hits, take a break!!!

Carrie Gutwein

says:

There have been many times of frustration before starting AAR Pre Level 1 with my son! Will be starting Level 1 very soon!

Janice Berger

says:

Taking a small break and doing something different can help clear heads and attitudes, kind of a reset button!

Kim

says:

Two things! First: Ask a series of simple (even silly) questions to get the feelings of success flowing again. Ex: Point to your mouth. What color is your shirt? Etc.
Second: We often tell our 2-year-old to fold her hands and get some self-control. We do it as a family…fold our hands, do some deep breathing, and try to regain our self-control. Sometimes we end with praying. Sometimes we end with laughing. And, sometimes, we end with another round of…fold your hands and get some self-control!!! ;)

Also, I’d love to know what you’ve used for your math curriculum!

Merry

says:

Hi Kim,

I used Horizons in the elementary years, and Math-U-See for Pre-algebra on up. MUS has been a really good fit here, and sometimes I wish I had used it all the way through. But when my son was elementary aged, he didn’t like manipulatives and really wanted color pages, so I didn’t think it would be a good fit then. MUS does a great job of explaining things though, and presents concepts incrementally with multi-sensory methods, so it has some similarities with the AAS and AAR styles.

Stacey

says:

One thing I try to do, prior to taking a break, is bring the lesson back to something that the child has mastered. A quick review to allow them to leave the lesson feeling successful. I find it reminds the child (especially those that are struggling) how much they really know and have learned.

Pamela

says:

So glad you posted this because I know I’m not alone when I just loose it! For me it’s my son who just checks out and “can’t do it” but I know he can. When we hit that point we close books, move on to something different or some days go for a walk. Sometimes we all just need a break and a fresh start to the day :)

Saphirelayne

says:

Thanks for the great ideas about how to help us through the difficult momments.

lauren b

says:

I haven’t dealt with too much tears and frustration just yet as I am very new to homeschooling. However, with my toddler I have dealt with some non-school related frustrations and of course the occasional tear. Sad. When he begins to become frustrated or upset, I either try to distract him, encourage him to try it (whatever he is trying to do) in a different way, or leave it for a little while, do something else and come back to it later. Usually, one of those three approaches has worked for him. I can’t imagine I would handle things much differently when it comes to schooling him.

Nicole

says:

When we reach a point of tears and frustration, we take a break and will usually read a book or play outside.

Melinda

says:

I loved this article. I have gotten upset just like you described in the article. I try to calm down by doing something else and coming back to it later and talking it out.

Ajar

says:

For myself, I would just go away on my own to clam down / cry. For my child, we try to stop and do something else.

Debbie

says:

Sometimes the best thing is to just let yourself cry. Once you have gotten it all out you usually feel a lot better. I also strongly believe in taking a “time out” myself sometimes. Leaving the situation can really help clear your mind.

Emily

says:

We too try to take a break by going outside, doing something completely different and discussing and gearing back up for the activity with a more positive out look.

Michelle

says:

We take a break, then I try to focus on another subject for a while where things are easier and my child can feel successful. Then in a day or so we can revisit what caused the initial frustration.

Dianna Thomas

says:

more or less,a fire drill–because thats what it feels like–at the frustrating level for all– It’s a stop-drop-and-roll–which is the basic of what we do– we just stop and cool off for a few minutes, talk about, pray about –maybe play a game to get the pressure off and then try again.

dena

says:

I go into the bathroom and have a good cry. I let it all out first, then I can plan a better recovery.

Christy

says:

Another great post!

Carrie M.

says:

Take a short break away from the frustration. Then come back to try again.

Sunshine

says:

I am greatful for this topic. I think I just may read a few of the comments a day. I got a tip from a veteran homeschooling Mom that really turned around a time of frustration in homeschooling for me and my daughter. She recalled that when her kids were younger they had used a timer and kept lesson time short. She then followed each work period with a choice period. So now we set a timer for ten minutes. She works for ten minutes and then she chooses to play ball or do something else for just 4 minutes. This seems to help her concentrate and keep a positive attitude. We also talk alot about having a learning attitude before we even get started.

Elizabeth

says:

In the short term, we take a break and re-group… :) In the long-term I consider whether we should take a break on the issue that caused the initial frustration. Often I find that if I “back off” on something that is challenging to the point of frustration for my daughter, that after a break when we return to it she flies through it with no problems. This was actually our experience with AAS… Level 1 was so challenging at first, so we went very slowly and took many breaks, but as we got to the end of the school year, it clicked with her and we flew through it at the end. Now I have been looking at Level 2 and she can already spell most of the words on the word list, so we will move quickly through it so we can start Level 3, which is where I think she needs to be.

Casey

says:

Go for a walk together outside! Turn on some good music and sing along together. Sometimes, stop and read aloud our favorite story together.

amelia

says:

Stay calm and encourage her to take one step at a time.

Lynette

says:

I remember when I would look like Merry! LMBO!! However, now it is sooooo much better. Breathing, walking around and taking a break are many of the things that we do for a change up.

Rebecca

says:

My son is a bit of a perfectionist. When he gets frustrated, we simply take deep breaths and pray about it together. If need be, we also take a break.

Sharon

says:

The first thing I do when frustration or tears appear is breath… calm myself. As I’m breathing slowly, I begin praying for clarity and compassionate understanding of what my child needs. Then I quietly tell my child to… 1) STOP whatever he is working on or doing. 2) DROP all his frustration (this requires him to imagine taking that frustration, balling it up, and dropping it on the floor. Sometimes he even stomps on it just to make sure it stays down). 3) ROLL that ball of frustration away!
After that, we take a break and address the true cause of frustration. Sometimes it’s a physical thing with a simple fix like eating something or running off his excess energy. Sometimes it’s a mental thing that requires listening and communication between the two of us.

Heather

says:

When we reach the point of tears or frustration, we walk away for awhile. Nothing is worth it. When everyone is calm we talk about the problem. I am trying to teach my kids to let me know what the problem is and try to come up with a solution that makes both parties happy. Not always successful but we are getting better. :)

Jennifer McGill Carr

says:

I am thinking of making a small “zen garden” for my daughter to tend to when she gets frustrated. Small box with some sand, rocks and a small comb to move the sand around with.

Mandy

says:

I find it very helpful to take a break and give that child some TLC.

Jill

says:

When I started in on a silly tantrum today, I realized my mistake in the middle of my tirade. So I took it over the top complete with silly facial expressions. Or we dance. Dancing seems to solve a multitude of problems around this place.

Melissa Hall

says:

My son can get quite overwhelmed… so far my best strategy is simply to let him take a break! We’ll come back to it later! We get outside, we do some read aloud stuff, have snack time, switch subjects, etc.

Josh

says:

Getting the child to laugh, take a deep breath then try again

Tina Storozuk

says:

Taking a break or moving on to a new subject/activity

Jeannetta

says:

What I do when kids get frustrated and start crying is take a break. I also teach in small increments which helps minimize the tears and frustration.

John

says:

Take a break. Cry out to the Lord. Do something fun with the kids – watch a movie / take a walk in the mall. Then talk / solve the issue that caused tears and frustration.

Cristen

says:

Take a break!!

Kimberly

says:

I needed this! We have had a lot of frustration and tears! So thankful for these tips, insights, and this blog!!

Tina Kaye

says:

15 minutes on the trampoline or WiiFit seems to help destress!

Debbie S.

says:

i agree with short lessons.

Joni K

says:

My boy and I are just starting our first full year of homeschooling. We pulled him out of public school in the middle of the last semester. He has special needs and since he is young, the extent of these needs are not fully known yet. The school has given him the bad habit of not trying. All he had to do was sadly say, “I don’t know.” or, “It’s too hard.” And they let him quit! This has translated to him not trying in the rest of his life. We frequently have tears and frustration. I simply say, “I know it’s hard. Nothing is perfect. Let’s keep trying.” I am also working on a way to reward him for simply trying. As long as he tries his best and is learning, I don’t really care about what grade level he is at and all that jazz!

Kathy

says:

Excellent strategy!

Gina

says:

These are all great tips!
What works for us is to take a break and come back to it later. I’ve found that usually the brain continues to “work behind the scenes”. Often (but not always) when we revisit what was so challenging, the light bulb goes on!

Amber Richards

says:

Take a break and run up and down the stairs to let off some steam!

michelle

says:

Oh, so helpful! We have “meltdowns” almost weekly, for some reason or another. I have found it helpful for my daughter to do something physically active with her negative energy, so I will ask her to do three laps around the house, or run up and down the stairs. If I can catch it early, before she “turns off”, then I will ask her to take some deep breaths, maybe put her head down for a moment and close her eyes, or play with a glitter globe.

We’re only beginning to homeschool preschool so I don’t know what to say about tears and frustrations there. But already I know that we’re going to expect them. My oldest daughter and I but heads and it makes me both look forward and dread when she’s older. I hope that we’ll get along more than fight.

Kathy

says:

Been there! Consider the opportunity for character development – usually mine as much if not more than hers! We get along great now (she’s 18)! Thanks Lord!

Betsy M.

says:

We also take a break – do something fun or get a little snack. Even Mom feels better with cup of coffee and a breath of fresh air.

Kristina

says:

We usually put it up for the day and do something else. We also talk about why they are getting frustrated. I know that they are right where they should be. Proper perspective and prayer for wisdom help a lot.

Heidi

says:

As many others have said, we take a break and do something else. It may be a few minutes outside or a snack. I try to see if the child is having a hard time because of what they ate, or if they need to eat. If problems exist for a long time, no matter how I try to change it up, then a change in curriculum may be in order,

Kelly

says:

We do difficult subjects before others. I like the idea of a ‘tool box’.

Cara

says:

We try to do the most frustrating subjects first in the morning when the kids are fresh (and I am too!) and then we get them out of the way for the whole rest of the day!

Kristina Best

says:

Oh man I think you must have been in my living room yesterday. My son and I get frustrated over school work. We haven’t found a solution yet.

Jonana

says:

Tears and frustration usually mean that everybody needs a break.

Robyn

says:

When frustration hits we set things aside and pursue something more fun. Just taking a break sometimes helps a lot. If frustration persists I try to make concepts as concrete as possible to help bridge the learning gap. Physical activity also helps. Ride bike, take a walk, throw the baseballs….

silver

says:

Sometimes you just need to slow down or wait a month or two and try again as it could be that your child isn’t quite ready to learn the concept being taught. Why spend so much time an agony trying to teach something now that will suddenly click without much effort on your child’s part later?

Leanne

says:

This is so true!!!! Brains develop at different rates. I suspect this is why kids struggle in mainstream schools……the kid’s brain is not ready for the lesson the teacher has prepared. As if a whole class would be ready on the same day!! No offence to teachers.
I look for ‘learning windows’. i.e. the right time for my child to progress to the next step. The time when the learning will happen naturally and with ease. The beauty and privilege of homeschooling is that the learning program can be flexible. Less haste, more speed.

Jessica Jacobs

says:

I usually will take a break, try again, or make a change

Tristan

says:

Tears of frustration here sometimes are triggered when:
I ask too much of a child’s ability
or
I have too much work assigned.

Short lessons, short lessons, short lessons!

When the tears do come I usually offer a 5 minute brain break and follow it up with the promise that I’ll let them tear up their page of work after I make a copy of the finished page (if needed). They get great satisfaction in tearing up all those math worksheets, and we only keep math tests.

Lindsay

says:

Take a walk!!!

Avis C.

says:

I send myself to timeout! Doesn’t take long. Just have to breath in silence and I’m back!

MamaGames

says:

I love the idea of a self-control toolbox and might even make it a physical reality… maybe a small tin pail with poker chips inside with self-control ideas written on them – when it’s getting frustrating, pull one and try it. (And yes, that would help ME too when the car keys are missing!)

Merry

says:

What a cute idea, I love this! I had thought at one time to put together a box with toy tools (obviously for a younger child) and put either words or pictures on it, but never did that. Poker chips would be much easier, and you could put pictures on those fairly easily. Chips might transcend age a bit longer too.

Sonya

says:

Thank you for giving us practical ideas to use as we homeschool – especially for us newbies!

Saree

says:

Thank you for sharing! Such great ideas :)

Shay

says:

Great ideas. It is very hard to handle frustration with my 4 y.o. twins. Still having to use a lot of redirection and taking breaks!

rose

says:

Thanks for this post. The “toolbox” idea just might be a lifesaver for my kids. I plan to teach them this concept and use it this year!

Gillian

says:

Take a breather. Go do something entirely different, and then start fresh.

vs

says:

I think it is helpful to switch subjects for a bit when the frustration level gets high.

Jody

says:

My girls are still very young so as soon as they seem frustrated we put whatever we are doing away. This year is all about making school fun but once they get older we’ll have to find ways to work through the frustration. Thank you for the tips! I love that photo!

Tracie White

says:

We take a quick break to compose ourselves. We chat about anything BUT the subject at hand over a glass of tea or a snack, or even a small craft project. Then we discuss exactly what is frustrating her about the subject and try to brainstorm ideas to get around or over it… Then we get back to work! =)

Stefani M.

says:

I think taking a break is so important. When one of my friends thinks about homeschooling, I tell them how much I love it, but that there are still days I want to rip my hair out or just pack ’em off to public school! There are no breaks for public school, but at home, we can take the afternoon off, or the day off, or the week off if things are hitting a stressful level… and it’s okay.

Sage H.

says:

With my preschooler I sometimes stop in the middle of a tough lesson and start dancing and singing her favorite songs! We both start giggling and dance for a few minutes. We both feel less stressed and are ready to tackle the problem!

JenRay

says:

There are some great tips here! My kids are still pretty young, and I have yet to experience anything serious in terms of “student” frustration. Not related to school, but *I* experience plenty of frustration related to toddlerhood, and sibling bickering. I am working on it, and this is helpful.

I am a believer of taking breaks. Is important to give your brain a little breather when you are feeling overwhelm.

Kristin

says:

Love this. I think these can be used for everyday parenting, not just school. I’m such a planner and rule-follower that I sometimes am the cause of our frustrations :(

Tracey

says:

These are great reminders and awesome suggestions! I needed the reminder of healthy ways to model dealing with frustration. Thank you for this!

I have keyrings with visual cards on them for calming down suggestions for each of my children. When they’re truly frustrated, verbal suggestions aren’t as effective. But I can silently hand them their keyring and let them choose the calming activity that best suits their mood.

For my girls, I find that taking a break is always the best for us. Then talking about WHY we are frustrated and what we can do to avoid those feelings next time. Then later in the day OR maybe even the next day, we look at it with fresh eyes again!

Michelle

says:

What great advice for a mom getting ready to embark on this homeschool adventure!

Robin

says:

Thanks so much for posting your story. This blog came at just the right time for me! I will be trying many of the ideas and stopping to enjoy my precious children more often. My son loves music so I plan to listen to a song in between each subject just to take a short mental break and help us switch gears.

Ramona

says:

I take a break and do another activity – everyone gets frustrated at some point. You need to change it up and come back later.

Shelli

says:

Listening to your child and allowing them the chance to voice their concerns. I find that just walking away and allowing everything to calm down also helps. Prayer… lots and lots of prayer.

Julie

says:

Short lessons seem to help. We also like the workbox system-helps make each part of the day more small and manageable in their minds.

Carrie Gutwein

says:

Great reminder! I have had many days that I have had to stop and take a break. I have my son pray for us to calm down and be able to regroup.

Jennifer

says:

We also take a break when we reach a breaking point…. and sometimes just BEFORE we reach a breaking point. Initially I would keep pushing through a lesson – just to complete it. But learning to pull the plug before we meltdown has been very helpful. And then offering a small snack, or water AND one sip of mom’s coffee (which may make some of you gasp) is always a treat that does little harm, but is a treat that puts us back on the same team! :)

Sabrina

says:

I really appreciate everyone’s honesty because I’ve been homeschooling for 4 yrs now, and I’ve had so many mom’s give me a “What are you talking about?” kind of look when I’ve shared some of my frustrations in hopes of trying to find what works/worked for them. I’ve gotten responses like, my child never does that, etc. It really can give one a complex!

So thanks for the incite. I’ve been learning how to do some of these things when I see the boiling point coming on for one or both of us. I took a couple of Carol Barnier workshops at the conference this year, and it, too, has given me many good ideas. Thankfully, Spelling seems to be something that my child enjoys since we started AAS last year, and I believe that is why he has started enjoying his reading much more.

We did the readers with Levels 1 & 2, and he always got excited when he knew we were going to be reading from one of those books; that did my heart good!!

Alisha D

says:

When there’s frustration, we take a break & have a snack & possibly a walk. =)

Sharon

says:

I so agree with and appreciate all the posts. We had a lot of struggles this past school year. I have resolved that something has to change this coming year – and because I am the adult/mom/teacher, that falls on me to make a new plan. First, much prayer. Second, take a break. And, third, ask my son’s opinion on what he thinks we can do to make it better – and really listen to his answer.

Kathy

says:

Wow! Great! I definitely became a better listener through my homeschool experience!

Emily

says:

Great tips! Our first go-to when frustration strikes is a water break. We both have to stop what we’re trying to do and drink a glass of water. I’m not sure if it’s the hydration or the mini-break that helps most, but I’d say 50% of the time, no other intervention is needed. (Step two is a jumping break on the mini-tramp in the school room.) After watching her older brothers so much, my 5-yr. old has even started stopping when she’s about to be frustrated about something and saying, “Mommy–I need a glass of WATER.” It’s a great regulator for us.

Susan B

says:

With 4 kids (2 boys and 2 girls) we take plenty of little breaks and do harder subjects during the little girls nap times!

Michelle

says:

When we get frustrated we always take a break and do something else. This always seems to put things in perspective. We are then able to come back and approach things differently in order to work through our frustration.

Libby

says:

The best thing I can recommend is to just take a break from the subject and let everyone get over the previous stress. Several years ago my daughter (now 16) was having a horrible time understanding the concept of rounding in math. We were both about to have a nervous breakdown! I decided to just wait until we were both calm and knew that eventually she would figure it out. We waited several months and, low and behold, she figured it out! :)

K Scales

says:

Thanks for this post. Just starting out, it’s great to get some tips ahead of time. :)

Krystle

says:

Wow Merry! Thank you for all these great suggestions… and for the picture of your temper-tantrum lol.

Amy-Lynn

says:

We use the trampoline a lot.

Alyssa

says:

When things get like this for us, I walk away before I start getting frustrated as well and I also send the child to work on something else for a minute to refocus.
one of the best things is to try and catch the frustration before it becomes tears.

Beth

says:

I agree with taking a break and switching things up. It seems to help my daughter if we take a break and focus on something that makes her feel successful.

Miselainia

says:

What great tips! I’ll have to add some to my cadre of tools to deal with times like these. Taking a break, praying, having a timer, cracking a joke have all been helpful; it’s sometimes trying different ways to approach the meltdown that keeps us sane. :P

Donna

says:

This is very helpful. I, like everyone else here, have been in this situation. Reading this and the comments really helps you not to feel alone.

Melissa Hall

says:

I do my best to not get frustrated in return, and we’ll usually stop and take a break that includes some sort of physical activity.

DeAnna

says:

This will be my first year homeschooling, so I have no wisdom on handling homeschool frustrations….yet. I will be bookmarking this post so I can go back and read these helps when I hit that point. I am just hoping its not in the first couple days of school. :)

Lorie

says:

If there is a particular subject that you find brings on the frustrations, your spouse may enjoy teaching that subject. You might have a friend you could go to for help. You could trade subjects with her and teach her children a subject you enjoy, while she teaches your children the subject that is causing the frustrations.

Kathy

says:

Great Idea!! Never undervalue the help of others! I learned to capitalize on the strengths of my husband, being much more hands-on than I, when the books just weren’t cutting it. I was always amazed at how timely the provision of such helpers became and how humble I became at confessing my need for them!

Mary Nelson

says:

What helps me the most is remembering that my child is a precious gift from God. NOTHING is worth getting so upset that I hurt my child’s spirit with my anger. This one thought has reduced the number of times I get extremely angry over little things or “big” things. Of course, prayer and having quiet time reading the Bible every day has gotten me to this point.

Pei

says:

It is a stuff one for us… Usually mom goes on “time out” or we go on a reading break.

Kathleen

says:

Usually when my kids lose their enthusiasm I’ve learned to stop or they will get cranky. We’ll take a break and I’ll say we were all finished and how I need a snack. That usually brightens them up and out of a bad mood.

I love the “self control toolbox” idea. With 5 kids, it’s not always conducive with our schedule, to take a break to do something else and come back to the subject later. One thing I have found to work in melt down moments is a sense of humor. If I can stay calm during their outbursts and then mention something funny about the situation, it usually helps to lighten the mood and give that child enough of a paradigm shift to help them recognize that the challenge isn’t as big as it seems, and we can work through it together.

Christy

says:

Some great tips! I find when they start to frustrated it is time for a break. We either come back to it later or try tomorrow.

Becky Saylors

says:

When I first started homeschooling, my daughter cried nearly every day! Of course that made me cry too. I learned quickly that sometimes the curriculum we choose doesn’t work for our kids, OR just cutting back on the amount of work we expect them to do can make a huge difference. Mostly it’s about maintaining a close relationship with our children and with God, who created them :-) As we spend time with Him and with our children, we’re able to know how best to educate our kiddos in all areas.

Kathy

says:

Amen to that!

Marlene

says:

Sometimes my 8 year old’s frustration comes from not being ready for what is being taught so sometimes I’ll give him a break from that particular lesson and come back to it in a few weeks. Also, I try to combine different ways of learning, for example for reading he’ll do an online program sometimes, read books and I always read to him as well, so we switch up.

Jenny

says:

Although I son is young, I am definitely learning the benefit of taking a break when it becomes apparent one is needed. These are great suggestions! Thanks!

Deb Robertson

says:

great ideas! thanks for sharing

Elizabeth

says:

When I was a child and would shut down and cry (I was homeschooled), my mom would switch gears for a while then come back to it. Math was my horrible subject. So giving the child a breather when he/she has shut down would be my best idea.

Michell L.

says:

I love your suggestions for calming down. I have found that the one that works best in my home is separation and prayer!

Christie

says:

I have enjoyed this post! We have struggled with frustration many times and it is good to talk about ways to deal with it. This was a good reminder for me as well as helping my daughters.

kiley

says:

Thanks for some new ideas on how to handle frustrations. We tend to take a break sometimes for the rest of the day from that particular frustration, I sit right next to my child and walk them through steps, and I try to “be real” with my kids about things that are difficult for me letting them know that I must also make the same decisions as they do about my attitude, response, and perserverence.

Lauri

says:

My daughter is a perfectionist and anytime she is learning something new she usually ends up in tears if she can’t figure it out right away. First, we usually talk about how she if feeling and why she is frustrated. I end up reminding her that this is something new and she is just learning it. She isn’t supposed to know the subject already and it will take practice before it becomes easy. Then we take a break and I allow her to do something she enjoys, like going outside. When she returns, we start with a subject that she is already familiar with, to build her confidence again. After that we return to the new subject/concept that she was struggling with and I walk her through it and take a little more time explaining it. It might take a couple of times but eventually, through repetition, she begins to understand the subject/concept and the frustration melts away.

Lindsay

says:

I am so encouraged by the article and by everyone’s comments… it is so refreshing to know you are not alone and that I am human and so are my kids…also it is okay take a break and regroup and that I am not such a horrible mom for messing up and blowing up….praying for my own self contol so I can give my children some tools to help with their own self control… Staying on my knees in prayer for my shortcomings…I have so much to learn so I can teach my kids as they grow so they are better prepared for life!!

Liz

says:

Thank you for your words of wisdom. Very encouraging.

Julie

says:

Honestly, we have not had this problem since switching to All About Spelling but when we have it in other areas, I start talking in a funny voice and break the tension the children are feeling or send them to do something physical for a few minutes-run around the house, jump on the trampoline.

Joanna

says:

One thing I have found is that kids can’t learn well if their needs aren’t met first. When I make sure that physical needs (food, rest and physical comfort) is taken care of, and emotional needs are met, learning comes much more easily for all of us. Same goes for mom! I have a much harder time being the loving and compassionate mom I want to be if I am short on sleep.

Shannon Johnson

says:

When we get frustrated, we just leave what we are doing and do jumping jacks and sing a song or the kids might go out back and run in the yard for a few minutes. Another thing we do is tickle and laugh then we come back to what we were doing and the frustration seems to be lifted.

Heather

says:

I love all of the great ideas and advice that has been shared here. When we get frustrated we have to step back and “go to our corners” and calm down for a few minutes. Then we can come back together and try something new. Sometimes we have to switch subjects, sometimes we can find a new way of looking at the problem and press on.

Lindsey

says:

When we get to the tears and don’t want to do anymore what I have found that works for us is this: I don’t mad I just tell her “okay your excused for today, I can’t make you learn, however when all your friends are moving up to the next grade you are going to still be in second grade until we complete the work and learning that needs to be done” normally she’s quiet for a minute and I go grab a cup of coffee and she has gotten perspective and is ready to continue on with a great attitude ! It’s worked every time actually! Sometimes it just takes a little perspective to keep us going when we want I quit!

Heather

says:

Thanks for your ideas! And reading your suggestions and thinking about the summer’s heat I think a popsicle “cool down” would help out here.

Heather Carter

says:

Often times frustration comes from feeling like they are letting us down. When that happens, I back off completely and suggest a snack or time to do something else so they can de-escalate from the situation and put themselves in a better mood. When we’ve “reset” and de-escalated, then it’s easier to pick up where we left off before. Frankly, this is true with any stressful project at home. I do this myself when making frustrating home repairs on our 112 year old home. Just hit the “reset” button- walk away and come back and approach with a fresher perspective.

Staci lynch

says:

We use the PE sticks for a break! They work like a charm!

Danielle R.

says:

We both need to just take a break from what we are doing. She will go to her room to look at a book and I will go do a load of laundry :) When the attitudes are better we come back together and start again.

Anna J.

says:

I have younger kids, so usually we’ll go for a bike ride, go to the park, or just go outside and play in the backyard. We’ve had a lot of days like that!

Jamie L.

says:

I have a problem with my 7 year old freezing. She wont answer me, wont write an answer or anything! It is absolutely awful! I catch myself raising my voice more times than not! I am not sure what is causing it, if it is something I am doing wrong. I really appreciate everyone’s honesty with homeschooling. I have only been doing this for a year and feel I am doing this all wrong. =(

Kathy

says:

Hopefully this blog post has assured you that we all have our moments/days and even years (!) when it seems things couldn’t get worse. The big picture, the long haul, the distance race is really the best perspective. I’m a veteran homeschooler with enough journal entries of frustration to attest that finding perspective is often what happens when we take those opportunities to quiet ourselves, and give our kids time to be restored. Sharing on this blog is a great place to start. We need each other and the comments shared offer honest insight, as you’ve found. Know this community cares!

Caroline

says:

Hi Jamie,

We all certainly have our moments with homeschooling, some we’re more proud of than others. I am learning each and every day right along with my child…sometimes about school subjects and sometimes about myself and my child! You mentioned your child freezing sometimes and being unresponsive. This could be her way of shutting down when things are hard, or it could be a more medical reason…there are probably a whole list of possibilties, however, I’d encourage you to talk to your pediatrician about what you are observing. There are seizures which look like staring off. I am in no way attempting to “diagnose” your child, but rather just encouraging you to open some discussion with a medical professional to rule it out. Hang in there with the homeschooling and talk to lots of people who are also homeschooling when possible. We all need as much support as we can get! Good luck!

Erin

says:

Such great tips! I always want to remember to go for my child’s heart, and to keep my heart open to listen too (to God, my husband, my child, good counsel) in these challenging situations.
Thanks for a chance to win!

beth

says:

Take a break, deep breath, slowly exhale a few times. Then think of how to say the same thing a little differently and remember that this will end. (If there’s enough time, play, sing, aloud or in your head, dance or hum the song “I Will Survive”. :) Works for me.)

Dawn

says:

When we all get frustrated (or Mom does), we crank “This is the Stuff” song by Francesca Batistelli on the computer/MP3 player so we can all remember that this this the little stuff that we are given to teach us patience.

Kelli

says:

I have two young boys, so we break for frustration! I let them do a few jumping jacks while I take a very deep breath. Then, we take a moment to pray and ask for self control to finish the task at hand…sometimes it works, and other times we just put it aside until later!

Brooke

says:

Oh I love this! I always talk to my son when he gets frustrated, but it never occurred to me to ask him why. I just always assume why he is frustrated. I never thought he might point out something in a subject area or curriculum that frustrates him. I also love the idea of talking to him about his self control toolbox! We are going into first grade, so this is a great idea for his age! thank you!

Momof3

says:

Our problem is that my son starts the lesson with a frustrated attitude. We have just had a nice breakfast, we read the devotional, take care of the dog and then get started. If I take a break every time he whines and cries, we would do nothing but take breaks. And believe me, we have had those days! It seems like once we decide to stop school and do something fun, we can never get him back into school mode (not that he was ever in it in the first place.) He is a struggling reader but very good in math, yet seems to get overwhelmed with both of these subjects. Once in a while we yell at him to sit down and focus and surprisingly, he responds well. I just hate yelling to get him to do his work. Yelling even works better than prayer! Any advice for us??????

Merry

says:

It sounds like you may need to get to the root of why he whines and cries. Is there something wrong (such as a mismatch between him and the curriculum, or possibly an undiagnosed learning disability)? You might try talking to him at a non-conflict time, and ask some questions. Ask what he likes and doesn’t like about school, what’s easy for him, what’s difficult, why, and so on. You may need several talks but see if you can address some of the underlying reasons. I might say something partway into a conversation like, “I’ve noticed that you get very upset when…. why is that?”

Does whining/crying ever get him out of doing something? (Some children are like little gamblers and will remember that ONE time that they got out of doing something and then they’ll keep trying it over and over).

Do you have clearly established guidelines ahead of time? Mondays can be especially rough days for getting back to school. I used to talk it through on Sunday night: Tomorrow morning we’ll wake up, make our beds, eat breakfast, read Bible, and then start our math… After awhile, you can ask them to tell you what order things come in. Talk about what kind of attitude to have ahead of time, and what kind of behaviors TO have and NOT to have, so that the expectations are very clear. You can use something like workboxes or a list of subjects to show the order of things and so he can see when he will be done.

Is Dad involved at all? Sometimes having Dad talk with a son about attitude and respecting Mom and working hard can make a big difference too.

Finally, consider your son’s age. I realized about halfway through my son’s kindergarten year that I was going to ruin my relationship with him if I kept on my current track. I was using a workbook approach to phonics that didn’t meet his needs at all. He hated it and I just kept pushing, he was frustrated–and our days were miserable until I realized I needed to just stop, set that curriculum aside, and find other ways to teach him.

Pray for wisdom and for God to give you a window into your little boy’s soul. He will lead and guide you. Keep going to him. Merry :-)

Emily

says:

I had a very experienced homeschool mama suggest that we do math before breakfast. It sounded cruel and unusual punishment to me, but I was shocked at how well it worked! We only did it for about 6 months, but we talked about how it was taking too long to get that done, so we would start the day with it. We had a glass of milk/juice, did a quick lesson, and then he had to his worksheet before he could eat. I made sure that it wasn’t too much to accomplish–a simple lesson and half a worksheet, for example. Once he saw that he COULD do it all in 15 minutes, it wasn’t such a difficulty. That was with my oldest, and he now does math 95% on his own. I am thinking of going back to this routine with another child this year, though!

Shelly

says:

Taking a break, and then trying to revise how you teach something and do it in a different environment! also, having dad teach is SO worth it when there are tears!:)

Jesse Wallace

says:

Whenever one of my kids has reached a point where they’ve given up, we usually take a break and do something fun to get them relaxed again. Then when I feel we can try it can, I give them about a 10 minute heads up that we are going to do it again, so they don’t feel like I’m springing it up on them and I explain to them that we are going to try it a different way. They are usually pretty receptive to it and usually that is all it takes.

Emily

says:

Take a break! Actually, a LOT of them. We have one day “off” each week, plus one week off each month, and “do school” year round. Seems to make it easier on everyone!

Jennifer S

says:

Sometimes Mom just needs a few minutes to regroup…time for an episode of Dinosaur Train!

Mary

says:

This is a wonderful post. I need to print it out and tape it to my wall. When my kids get frustrated, I’m often frustrated too (thinking “how can they NOT be getting this?”) so I have to take a moment to deal with my own frustration first and then I can be the gentle, understanding mom that they need. I agree with Crystal B. (above my post) that doing something silly works great.

Crafty Mama

says:

My kids are still young, so we handle frustration with lots of breathing calmly and snuggling. :)

Erin

says:

My daughter uses spellingcity.com to practice her words without me.

Crystal B.

says:

I’ve been known to do something absolutely silly to divert their attention away from the issue and take a funny break. A lot of times we all end up laughing hysterically and the issue is soon forgotten and we can start over fresh.

Sarah

says:

My son gets frustrated easily and it is very hard for him to stay on task. We try to keep things brief and take a break when we are getting frustrated with one another.

Peggy

says:

Many great ideas here. A break or change of pace can be helpful, but sometimes a child is just not ready to learn a particular concept. Even a child that is normally a pretty eager learner can hit a wall sometimes. We had this situation when one son was learning to tell time. He just didn’t get it! We let it go for a few months and then bam! Suddenly it clicked!

Another way to approach a child who is perpetually struggling is to jump back to a point of mastery. I needed to do this with a son who was struggling with reading. We just plain went back to a point where it all came quite easy. The confidence of being able to complete the lessons without struggle was empowering!

Jenni J

says:

Wow, I’m glad that I read this post. The “modeling a full blown temper tantrum” bit really struck a nerve with me. I don’t think I realized that I do this (often) until now. Things are always so “go, go, GO!” here that there is always some sort of time pressure and/or excessive stress. I think I need to take a step back and re-think some things…

We limit our time to curb frustration. I also seek out fun and different ways to teach the frustration concept. It’s worked, so far.

Jan

says:

Great suggestions — many which we’ve used at one time or another. Lately, with my 10yo, and his struggles with math, in particular word problems, we take a break from the problem and I let him do math drills — either competing with the computer or a sibling. I do this b/c he’s good at computations, and when he goes off and comes back all jazzed about doing well on his drills, it helps him recognize that he can be good at math — he’s got half the skills down — he just needs to be more patient with himself and realize he’ll get to that “accomplished” level sooner or later.

boesman

says:

Thanks for the advice and suggestions.

Sandi W

says:

Great Advice, thanks.

CJ

says:

Looks like some good suggestions. I can’t say that I have anything new to add to the list.

Darlene

says:

My tips are breathe, pray, and adjust your tone. If that doesn’t work. Repeat. ;)

Nannette

says:

We try to incorporate movement into the lesson. When this fails and we’ve just hit a wall we give ourselves a time out.

Shelley

says:

This post was very helpful for us. Thank you.

Belynda

says:

Sometimes we just have to take a break and have some fun – especially during spelling! We also act out the spelling words if possible.

Jennifer Brunsvold

says:

Thank you for the great tips. I am still learning the best way to deal with each child’s unique personality. Sometimes, it just requires quiet time in their room for reflection ~ so we can talk it over and figure out if there is something deeper causing the frustration (i.e., fear of failure, etc.)

Lara Borden

says:

Thanks for the tips, I have perfectionist children and when they get stuck it’s hard to get them through it, because they hate to admit it.

Wynter Ogilvie

says:

I lock myself in my room until I’m calm again!

Beverley

says:

When we start to get frustrated we break out the M&M bowl! The kids are allowed a specific number of M&M’s for the tasks assigned. Each task must be completed correctly and without argument to receive the candy. We usually have to do this about once every two weeks and it hasn’t failed me yet!

Jennifer S

says:

Sometimes, like the article recommends, I remind my daughter of other things that take practice, like playing a game/sport or putting together a puzzle. I also allow breaks, but not in a way that rewards the frustration (like I got mad and cried, so I get to read for fun now!). More like a chore that’s active and helpful, or a change of academic subject for a while.

Crystal

says:

This post makes me laugh… laugh because I’ve been there, both with the AAR and .. just in daily life. We reached a point in AAR where every day was one of THOSE days. So we simply just put the books away, we started using the flip books that we used before, for review, as he loved those. We used our tiles every other day for some more hands on review. We also brought in a few free activities I found online, and some old manipulatives I bought but never used, and we just practiced, A LOT. Even though it was all the same material, each day, my son didn’t get as annoyed with it as it was taught in a new way each day. I didn’t get as aggravated because I set myself up mentally, that this was something that was going to take more time than other things, and in the end, he was ready to get back to the books, and move on to the next section. Once I stopped worrying about what kind of teacher I was, good or bad, and worried instead about what was best for him, things definitely turned around. There are still hard days… they’re just fewer now when I know that stopping for the day and trying again tomorrow, or planning something different all together is fine.

Now if i could remember to be as calm with myself when I get aggravated by something I’m not doing well at, in the same way that I try to get him to be calm in… then that would help as well. He needs more good modeling from mommy and daddy.

Nicole

says:

This article is filled with so many great suggestions – thank you! Love the story about the temper tantrum.

Jennifer S

says:

I appreciate your honesty and knowing other people go through this! I also appreciate the advice that has been tested!

Dori Umphreys

says:

When I’m dealing with my kids tears and frustrations I first try to not get frustrated myself. Then I try to find some way to make it fun. For instance if they’re having trouble with spelling I try to put the word they’re having trouble with into a silly song. If they are having a Math struggle I try to think of a couple silly sentences that will help them to remember the fact easier.

Courtney

says:

Take a break

Sam

says:

Had this experience plenty of times. Our son gets frustrated if he cannot do the work by himself. it is always a good idea to home-school tougher subjects in the morning and keep the after noon for reading, computer, arts, etc., Motivations also helps.

Sue

says:

We usually take a break by running around, swinging or just dancing to a song. It really helps~!

Virginia

says:

I offer them a little piece of candy when they get some of the work done and another when completed. :)

Janet

says:

I have a hard time with self-control myself, so we often take a tickle break, where we tickle the frustrated feelings out, or we play a game where I pick the kids up and shake the bad stuff out. That usually lightens the mood and helps us re-focus.

Tamara

says:

We will usually switch gears to a new project, task, play time or snack and then re-focus on the task at a later time.

Lori

says:

I have learned to break up the lessons into manageable parts. I was finding that my struggling speller was simply getting too overwhelmed with more than “small chunks” of the lessons at a time. We are both much happier now!

Michelle

says:

For us it is usually hunger related. We take a break and get a snack. Sometimes we can come back, but usually we retry the next day. Some days are just “off” days, and we try to take it for what it is.

Alexandra

says:

We take a break and pray.

Michelle

says:

Prayer and a short break to do something fun usually are a big help at our house!

Cristina

says:

I cry. Get upset…
Then I pray that God would help go through the day :)
He Is always good.

Kiesha Nowlin

says:

We take a 10 minute break to get our minds fresh and clear and regroup.

I know this frustration well!! Great article and great tips I’ll be using this coming year. Sometimes, I go back a step and do something I know they can do well, just to build their confidence back up and then take smaller steps in the challenging times, to keep the frustration level from getting out of hand.

Melinda T

says:

I try to explain to my daughter a different way, but if I see that she doesn’t understand it, we’ll take a break, regroup and try again. My daughter is a visual learner and sometimes, depending on the subject, it may take her a couple of tries.

Nicole

says:

These suggestions are great! My kids are still young, so I just try to turn more things into a game or fun project or even real life experience, so they dont even realize they’re learning.

Erica

says:

Either take a break, play a game or read a story, and ALWAYS quote:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all you heart as working for the Lord, not for man.” Colossians 3:23

Amie

says:

This is very timely for me as I was just had a day like this yesterday. My oldest son melted down during a reading lesson, again, and immediately thought I must be doing something wrong! It is nice to know it is not just me. I will try some of these suggestions thank you!

Britny

says:

When my child isn’t grasping a concept, sometimes I try googling a different way to approach it. Maybe a video with someone else explaining it or a fun way to do it. It gets us both refocused and usually goes much smoother.

Andrea

says:

Well..when I get too stressed, I love a shower. The sound of the water is calming and it’s time all by myself. When my daughter gets overwhelmed I let her watch an educational DVD. She really likes movies, but she doesn’t get to that offen so she calms down has a snack and watched Leap Frog or What’s in the Bible with Buck Denver. Then afterwards she is ready to begin again.

Elizabeth Williams

says:

To avoid frustration, I watch my children for cues. Once I see their level of stress and anxiety rise. I take a break. They either go play for a time while I read a book, or watch a short movie, cook, or do something that removes my stress. Once the kids are calmer and rested, we get back to it. If it is a certain subject that we are studying that is making this blow up, we switch subjects, and come back to it later, if not in the same day, the next. There have been times I have lost it, but I keep reminding myself, I am more concerned about my childrens’ education than anyone else. I have their best interest at heart.

Rebecca N

says:

I purchased a fun, interactive backpack of activities designed to wake up left brain/right brain. Letting the kids choose an activity, such as bouncing a ball with a ping pong paddle, rotating two small ceramic balls in one hand, etc.

Julia Proctor

says:

I have to take breaks often as my son is speech and language delayed and dislikes sitting still for long periods of time. When I first began home schooling, I would get frustrated and angry with my inability to impart adequate understanding to him and to keep him interested. Eventually, though, it became easier as we got to know each other’s learning and teaching styles, and as we both matured. Now, I can see right away when it’s time to stop and I call for a break unless he’s really determined to finish and I can see that he will be successful. School-time always remains a positive experience now.

Denise

says:

PRAY!!! Go back to something we’re “good” at and slowly work in the the new concept with a different presentation from me :o)

Erica

says:

My children are still so young, but this is a major concern at even just 4 years old. We just try to talk about practicing, and remembering when we didn’t know how to do ballet, but we kept practicing and now you can do all kinds of twirls!

Lisa Fetty

says:

I take a big breath, a snack break and then we begin again with prayer. Removing ourselves for that short break helps break the tension and when we start again, this time it’s with the peace of the Lord.

Beth

says:

Thank you for this reminder, I get frustrated myself way too easily sometimes, I guess I need a break at these times too! The one thing I do most when I need a break is put in a Christian CD and sing a song or two while I do a couple of things in the kitchen. The kids love to sing too, maybe some silly songs would be a good idea to sing together to lighten the mood :)

Karie S.

says:

I forget that my kids NEED to take breaks and to have their day mixed up a little. On those forgetful days, it is common for everyone ending up in tears and feeling frustrated!

Hooverd

says:

Thanks for sharing the picture. It really captures the mood. :)

Ann

says:

I’ve used AAS for the past 3 years. We had a busy schedule and I appreciate how organized AAS helped me. I like the tips and reminders. Those emotional roller coaster and how we overcome it, not just the curriculum, has been a good teaching for us.

Georgia

says:

There are so many good suggestions being shared here. Every person shuts down learning when he or she is under stress, doubts that he can succeed,or fears that he cannot satisfy the requirements. No learning of any positive kind occurs under those situations. So, start again another time, break the task into small bites regularly performed daily, Identify what the feelings are, then share them. Reconcile, forgive, smile, hug, reassure, take a break. Find another way. Pray.

Cathina

says:

When we have days like that, I usually have the kids stop what they are doing & we have a time of prayer & we just cuddle and reflect on our frustrations & I have them talk about it & even allow them to share some ideas on how they think we could pull through next time. It really helps them to talk about it and most importantly they learn that giving it all to God first eases their hearts.

Toni

says:

I put on some music it really can change the mood and attitudes.

Shanna Dorman

says:

Ohhhhhh myyyy!!!! We are so very familiar with tears!!! It is hard to tell sometimes if the tears come from frustration, not understanding, or if at times they are used to manipulate and hopefully get out of doing the work or to get mom to sit down and help to maybe she’ll give the answer – which I don’t do so I do not know why they try – lol!! But it is frustrating to the whole family!!! Whining and crying over school work is the one thing that makes me want to give up and send my kids to public school. God calling our family to homeschool though is the one thing that makes me not give up. I am sorry to admit though that I have threatened public school to my children before – which has only led to more tears. I do try to remain calm and gentle and speak kind words even though everything in me wants to yell and scream right along with them. I have found that being consistent – not allowing it – trying to stop it before it stops – gives the best results.

Amanda Felton

says:

Great ideas. I have my dc do something else more fun or easier then come back to it when we are all calmer.

Erin

says:

I find that with my older children, putting the task at hand away, taking a few moments to pray together, and starting a new activity or task helps. With my younger ones, stopping the activity, spending a few moments hugging/cuddling, and praying together and moving on to another activity helps.

Cindy

says:

Taking a break is always a good decision! Since there has been so many HOT days recently, I am thinking a nice picnic lunch outside would be a nice change! It is so nice and “cool” outside right now!

Cori

says:

Like most of the others here, we stop what we are doing and take a well needed break. If the weather is nice, we go outside and get some fresh air by taking a walk, playing in the yard, having a picnic…whatever we can come up with. If the weather is not good, then we put our school things away for a little bit and watch a movie together while eating popcorn. It’s something fun and relaxing either way we go. Once we are done, we move on to another subject and come back to the difficult one the next day.

Nancy

says:

All the tips about changing things up are one of my tricks, but I also make sure the basics of the topic/subject are understood. Sometimes we have to go back and review a little to uncross some thoughts. Amazing how much a new perspective helps after a break.

We run stairs, do push-ups, or jumping jacks just to keep them close (so they don’t get lost). Then go back to the activity to practice perseverance.

Pam Martin

says:

I know that when I begin the day with quiet time and prayer for the whole family this helps set our tone. Then in the midst of things I try to remind myself relationships first, academics second. Also I try to see if the situation is a obedience/laziness issue or a true lack of understanding. We often talk about what God expects from us in tough circumstances and then see if we should push on or step back.

Amy

says:

We definitely have to take a break. Sometimes, we even just forget it for the day and start new the next day.

we had some major frustration last year and I came up with jogging – with I am happy to see is along the line of your suggestions! We go outside – jog up the street and back – usually everyone ends of laughing by then!

Susannah Krug

says:

Try to come back to it later after we have filled up the calm cup….

LaceyL

says:

My kids are not usually the ones that get upset, I am. My boys are at the age that they really dont understand the importance of school and think it is either fun or unnecessary so I am the one that gets upset because they do not take it more serious. Anyone with any advise about how to explain to young kids the importance of education? The fun times are easy it is when we have to do the things that aren’t fun I have a problem with.

Merry

says:

I prefer to use chores as the object lesson for persevering through things that aren’t fun for us to do. So I focus on that when I want to teach character lessons on perseverance, hard work, a positive attitude despite circumstances, and so on. Although school isn’t always fun, for young children I do try to incorporate games, manipulatives, and approaches that make it more fun and game-like. We all tend to learn more when we are enjoying what we are learning.

I try to relate what they are doing to something they understand. Why do we learn math? So we can handle our money wisely. We started our kids young (5 & 7) on a few chores they could earn money for (they still did plenty just because they were part of the family & let them know that if they complained about not earning money for some jobs, the paying jobs would go away!). We set them up on a budget envelope system just like mom & dad follow a budget, and they set aside money for club dues, giving to church, savings, gift for others, and spending. When birthdays or Christmas rolled around, they bought little things out of their means or made gifts.

I do allow some goofing off in school. My son liked to make every tile-word “explode” (complete with motions and sound-effects of course!) for example. I didn’t have a problem with this, even if it meant we got to a few less words in our scheduled spelling time, as long as it didn’t take over and become the explosion that never ended. As long as the explosion took less time to occur than the actual spelling of the word, I let it be. Some hills aren’t worth dying on!

Sandra

says:

We simply use a “take a break” method for handling frustration. Now in order to keep breaks from become a way to get out of work, our breaks consist of things like walking the property line, weeding, go dust something, unload the dishwasher etc…. But for us, it works!

Kelly

says:

We take a break and go find something fun to do….then I re-evaluate the situation to see if there is something we can do differently to avoid tears again!

Becky R

says:

We take a break and calm down.

therese

says:

When darling 7 yr old gets frustrated to the point of tantrum or tears, we stop, take a break and come back to it later, or switch to a “fun” subject (which is reading for him). Later, I assess whether the task was too hard or not. If not, I try to find a way to learn the info using a game.

Cheryl Baranski

says:

I would so love to win this for my son.
There are days that we are in tears over his spelling.
He gets so frustrated with himself.
This would be such a blessing to us!!
Cheryl B

Ligia

says:

I do workboxes, so I evenly disperse the ones he likes with the ones he doesn’t.

Krista

says:

I postpone that lesson to the next day. If it still is going bad, I ask daddy to teach the lesson that evening.

Tina

says:

Take a break!

Havenly

says:

This is hilarious! Honestly, we adults are the once who have the temper tantrums and anxieties when the kids are just not getting it. Taking a break and moving slowly could be of great help.

Kristen

says:

These are some good suggestions. I was always a good student and so I think my kids should just push through their frustration or boredom and just “get it done.” I need to remember to extend them some grace and to be willing to take 5 minute wiggle or exercise breaks.

Mary B

says:

Take a break! Remember, “This to shall pass.”

kristinad

says:

I don’t really have anything to add! I do take notice if a certain subject always produces tears and we changed our math curriculum this year because of it.

Julie

says:

Great post!

Nicole

says:

Stop and pray!!! I need to remind myself of this, I don’t want to turn my home into an enviroment that stifle my children’s love for learning or home life! I know it’s time to put it away for the day or switch and come back later when everyone’s has a chance to come back to it with a joyful and eager attitude. Sometimes that might be a season! If my child is just not ready for something I have found it much more beneficial to let he/her mature a bit and then the subject seems like a breeze and we haven’t turned our homeschool into a nightmare!I know this is hard to do when you have goals and expectations to meet, but God desires us to nurture our children first.

Debbie

says:

One thing I worry about with “changing things up with something fun like a walk or board game” is that tears and frustration could become a “habit” to get out of doing something unpleasant. I sometimes incorporate drawings / doodles into our hard days to try and turn the unpleasant subject into something more tangible or “fun”. When that doesn’t work, we end up having a good chat about the blessings of being home-schooled and the freedom we have to spend “extra time” on problems that arise! :)

Penny Clark

says:

We usually will take a break at that moment to regroup. After about 5 minutes we will come back and try a new approach

Shelly Rogers

says:

Tears and frustration come to our house to visit all too often! Some of our “tools” include, shifting gears and come back to what we are working on later, taking a break for a drink, snack or quick exercise, and of course, prayer! Something I have tried more recently, which works wonders, is using small rewards for what they get right and not making a big deal on what they get wrong. For example, my daughter is dyslexic and so she really struggles with reading and spelling. Instead of focusing on what she got wrong, she gets a small reward for the ones she gets right ( 1 gummy bear or jelly bean or 1 minute computer time for each word correct).

H cat

says:

My comment, too, is similar to others’! We tend to try to work through for one more section or problem then break for activity (outside,jumping on tramp, jumping jacks etc.) a lot depends on the level of frustration that my son is having as to whether we continue later or come back to it another day.

We have been talking about feelings with speech therapist, making charts that have colors (red, yellow, green, and blue) to represent different feeling zones. We cut out pix of different emotions that are then glued to the zones. This helps ID various emotions and where they fit on the scale of intensity ( red is losing control, yellow is getting heightened but still can do something about it, green is just right, blue is very low energy -not motivated to do anything). It is helpful to see that you can feel very differing emotions at the same time sometimes -(proud of accomplishment, disappointed it told so long, mad that you had to do it etc) We have not yet applied this to schoolwork, but I’m thinking it could curb getting to the point of red and completely frustrated if regular check-ins as you are going along? Just thinking as I’m writing this…hope it makes sense and is not confusing! Works well with emotional regulation in general!

Merry

says:

VERY interesting, H Cat. I like the relation to colors, it seems like something kids could relate to even if they couldn’t put their feelings into words quite yet. I think helping kids to be aware is an important part of helping them work through frustrations.

Kirsten

says:

I have started using audio books through a site called Learningally.com. My younger daughter has dyslexia. Huge amounts of text frustrates her. Learning Ally is a site for children with documented learning disabilities. I am able to get some of her texts and readers in this format for her. We also use iPads in our homeschool model. Both of these methods have reduced frustration for our family. We enjoy listening along with her and my older daughter and I don’t have to spend the entire day reading to her. You can visit my blog, outsidetheboxhomeschooling.com to see more ideas for implementing iPads into your homeschool model.

Crystal

says:

We do the hard stuff when they are at their best. That takes care of the majority of tears and frustration.

Susan

says:

Make learning FUN! Then bye-bye tears. :-)

We take a break no matter what you doing you can getfrazzaled about anything so if its school workstep back and take a breath. My do some streaches it helps

Malinda

says:

These are some great ideas, Thanks!

Delphine

says:

This hits pretty close to home, it’s always nice to see your not alone with problems like that. When my son gets frustrated he shuts down immediately, I try all sorts of things to bring him out of it, from encouragement to taking breaks, talking about it, etc. Things usually just come easy for him so when something is hard he has a hard time handling it. I always let him know it’s O.K. to make mistakes, we can learn from mistakes, do it better next time and move on. I also tell him if he knew everything I wouldn’t have anything to teach him. Because we do school at home he doesn’t see that other kids struggle too, he only sees himself. I try to let him know that other kids make spelling mistakes too, other kids have to learn too. I usually let him take a break, have a snack and then we either attack the problem again or leave it for another day. I

Christie Wessels

says:

I love all these ideas. My kids get tears of frustrations at times, and I try to pull away and reset their perspectives. I’m going to try lots of these different ideas in the coming school year.

Michelle

says:

We usually do short lessons 10-15 minutes then take a break or move on to the next subject.

Kuhu

says:

What has always worked for us, is to leave what we are doing and do something else. Doing that keeps my and my daughter’s mind off the task and we can later go back and start afresh. That gives me time to thing of new ways to approach the task and my daughter is also relaxed and focused.

Jackie

says:

PRAY!! Then change what we are doing to help change attitudes.

Sharon G

says:

My child hates reading. I know more than say the word and she starts whinning… NO! I’m hungry, I’m tired, I can’t do it, I hate it! I try to keep positive but it does get frustrating.

Merry

says:

Hi Sharon, I’m sorry your daughter is struggling with reading so much. My son hated it when we started out too. He couldn’t stand phonics lessons and trying to read basic readers, and no matter how game-like I tried to make things, it was never his idea of fun! (I wish I had All About Reading back then, because he is a child who really needed that! I looked and looked for a product to do what Pre-1 does!). When kids have to work hard at learning to read, it’s not very fun. He’s 15 and enjoys reading now (even bikes a couple of miles to the library to feed his Star Wars addiction, LOL!). Anyway, it does get better but can be really frustrating along the way for some kids. If you want to post her age and things you’ve tried, we’d be happy to offer suggestions, or you can always email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com. If you aren’t yet using All About Reading, you might take a look and see if that would work for her. If you are and need help with some trouble spots, just let us know. We offer lifetime support for all of our products. Merry :-)

Sharon G

says:

I’ll send you an email.

Marci

says:

Usually I send my daughter to her room to calm herself down (get out of the “I can’t do it!” mindset). When she comes back, we pray together, read “The Little Engine that Could”, and talk about simply trying. She seems to think she always has to be perfect and we’re working on just trying rather than expecting perfection (she is only 5 for goodness sake!). I’ve also started using the “We Choose Virtues” curriculum which is great and helpful for the kids to have a good definition of what a word like “perseverance” really is…and what it’s NOT. :-)

Karen R

says:

Thank you so much for being honest, even to the point of including a picture. Most of the time, being honest with our children that we, too, make mistakes and struggle with discipline opens their heart to receive help. That with “let’s take a short break, refresh our minds, then try again,” helps them feel encouraged to never give up. Plus it helps me to step back, regroup, and pray for wisdom and patience.

Shelia

says:

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

Rhoda

says:

Taking a break and going for a walk or doing something that you enjoy for a while, and when you come back apologize for unkind words(etc). Give your child a hug when you come back and let them know how much you love them and how much they mean to you.

Bethany

says:

I’ve learned that for us, a break is usually a BIG help. Even just sending my daughter off to do something else (usually she chooses her room to go and play) for 5-10 minutes helps to calm everyone down. Then we can regroup and usually sail through whatever it was we were struggling with. Prayer is also a very big component! Thanks for the other tips as well!

Jennie

says:

For us it seems best to completely switch gears. We go on to a whole new subject then pick up the cause for frustration later in the day. Some days this doesn’t and help, so we then just put it aside until the day.

Tammy

says:

We switch gears and once things have calmed down, I try to talk through the situation with them and how God wants us to respond and what we can do differently next time to avoid the meltdown.

Peggy

says:

Make sure your child is having some success. It is tough to keep going when that is not happening.

Laura

says:

I’m new to homeschooling this year so I haven’t experienced this…..yet. My plan is to make it a game and take breaks when needed.

Brenda Lloyd

says:

Thank you for this! I have all of these issues, including my own behavior issues when frustrated. I do take a small break for jumping jacks or drawing on the chalk board. I struggle because I have a babysitter entertaining my 2 year old while I work with my 4 year old and I know the clock is ticking. I usually switch to another subject.

Ashley S

says:

I like to point out to the kids what they DO know and something that they once thought was hard that they now find easy. It helps them to see that, even though this seems hard, they will eventually get it!

Ashley W

says:

thanks for the pic of your temper tantrum, I thought I was the only mom who ever had these! ;o) it is good to know that there are others out there who loose their cool too. I am not very good w/ handling my kids after a melt down like this and now I have tools to help both of us. Thanks!!

Leah

says:

I let my kids have some say in the curriculum. This wouldn’t necessarily work for a younger child, but for older elementary and older, it may help. For example, I have my kids in different math curricula because their learning styles are different. I had the final say and they chose from pre-limited choices, but their input allowed us to find something that reduces frustration.

Merry

says:

Leah, I even found this helpful with a young child! When my son was 7, he was very frustrated with a discovery-oriented math program (I realized later that he needs explicit, step-by-step instruction instead). I told him math wasn’t optional but what we use for math is. I asked what he liked and didn’t like about his book (he wanted more color, for example), and found samples that I liked that also met most of his preferences. I printed things from online and also brought home samples when I could. The funniest time was when I showed him one math book, and he looked from that to his old book, then told me that the authors of his old book didn’t want children to undertand math! Obviously they did–but that learning style didn’t match his needs!

Dana

says:

I am just glad to know my house isn’t the only place these things happen – and to have ideas to help!!

denise

says:

Usually when frustration sets in, it’s time for a break. I also have the child explain where things start “to go wrong” with their understanding of math problems.

Kristen

says:

These are all great ideas! I think hunger tends to be a big part of it. So a snack break would work well.

Lindsey

says:

Great tips. When my kids get frustrated we often take a break and sometimes take a change of scenery too and will come back to it later.

Incorporate fun/games in learning. Take breaks as needed. Explain that there are times in life we will do hard things. Set up rewards for hard work with good attitudes. Provide lots of patience and encouragement.

Michelle G

says:

Taking regular breaks is necessary around here or its not pretty! So just take a break!

Brianne

says:

When we get frustrated we just take a break or skip it for the day. Sometimes just not having to think about it for a while help you think better the next day.

April Nicholson

says:

Listening breaks help ease frustrations in our house. I either read aloud or we listen to books on tape.

Christie

says:

Lots of encouragement , don’t be afraid to take a break for a bit.

Nedene

says:

I’ve turned the times we are struggling into a game, if we hit a word that throws us for a loop, we write it down and play a game using it, so next time its easier to recognize. And with reading, I only show her one line at a time, looking at a whole page of words frustrates her, but small bits are easily managed.

RMH

says:

When I find all of us getting frustrated or stressed I know that it is time to take a step back and really look at what I trying to accomplish. Many times I am trying to push through the material to get the”book” done and not really looking for the child to understand. It is good to just pull back some and realize that maybe they are just not ready to do what you are asking them or they are feeling like they are getting too much info at once. I usually stop and try and find fun games that reinforce the skill. Try having them act out concepts or have them become the teacher. Sometimes that really helps you identify where the misunderstanding lies.

Vicky

says:

We take a break. Put school aside for a while and do something else.

Leslie Dixon

says:

I know this sounds simple but we often have these moments with my perfectionista 5 yr. old as she is learning to read. She is a great word decoder but HATES just not knowing it by sight, so she gives us if she sees a word she doesn’t recognize. She wants it quick and easy. So, my tip, is encouragement! I try to pick out something she is doing really well with the reading and just keep reminding her that she is capable and we are in no rush. When I encourage her that helps her be bold and try to sound out the word – which she usually does correctly! It is just getting her to try that is the hard part!

Gina

says:

I have what I call R & R, Reflect and refocus! Sometimes we need to reflect on the purpose of our homeschool efforts. Reflect on the real reason and how important it is to us as a mom to homeschool our children. Then refocus on the issue or problem occuring with a fresh mind.

Lisa M.

says:

We like to stop and sing a silly song. My daughter is young, so acting a little silly makes us laugh and forget about the problem. Once we return to where we left off, we are each in a better mood.

Sage H.

says:

Whenever my children are getting frustrated, we head for the outdoors! We spend some time running around and getting everything out of us. We will have a picnic if we have not had lunch and sit in the grass discussing the problem. When we are away from the problem, it is easier to talk about and we do not get mad at one another.

Angela

says:

Thanks for the ideas and encouragement!!

Jennifer Neal

says:

We usually take an active break i.e. dancing, running around outside. Then try again later on.

Amy H

says:

I take a small break, and when we come back to the table, I approach the issue in a new way because apparently the old one wasn’t working!

nancyt

says:

Those were some good ideas. I dont think I go a day without my daughter getting upset, crying, or
just frustrated in school. She is a perfectionist and she doesn’t want instruction the old ” I’ll do it
myself”. She knows everything LOL. she is 12 years old. She is going through puberty. It is a
very trying time.

Chantel

says:

I know that meltdowns happen a lot at our house, esp. with Math. Thanks for the encouragement and reminder to be a good example ourselves.

bookwrm

says:

Some time outside usually works for us. Then try again later.

Samantha Bryan

says:

Great ideas, Merry. We’ve used most of those but I had never thought to mentally gather them all together for my child (or even make a list) as a self-control toolbox. I love that concept and will probably have reason to adopt it with at least one of my youngers. Actually, for that matter, probably need to apply it to myself! And I ditto the poster who mentioned breathing exercises. I was skeptical but they can make a big difference to some kids.

Pamela

says:

I would handle frustration by taking a break, running around outside for 20 minutes, going for a walk or dancing around the living room. I will have to learn how my daughters deal with frustration with school work when we get to that point and develop some strategies that work.

Patty

says:

Stop what you are doing and send the child outside! :) to play of course…

Di H.com

says:

My daughter is a perfectionist and gets frustrated when her fingers don’t do exactly as she wishes. I remind her that she doesn’t have to be perfect, but she does have to try her best. We break things up into smaller parts, take a break/ have a snack, and then try again because we don’t give up if we are to succeed. I like the ideas of marching and jumping on the trampoline.

jill

says:

We try to take a break, sometimes my son will not want to stop working on problem even though he is about to have a melt down. I have found that having someone else like dad or older sister go over the problem with him helps.

Michele

says:

One way that I have found that helps us is for me to tell my child who is frustrated (I have boys) to go run a few laps around the house, or ride his bike or jump on the trampoline. After a 5 minute break, we’ll try again and talk it through or put it away for later if we still are struggling.

Rae V.

says:

Take a break… Walk, play a game, anything to get away from the moment

Betsy

says:

Instead of immediately succumbing to frustration, I’ll set the timer for 2 (or 5 or whatever) minutes. We’ll work together until the timer goes off, then we’ll take a fun break. But I prefer to encourage DD to work calmly through frustration, often breaking through that block that caused the tears. Then the break is that much sweeter and shows that just quitting doesn’t create results.

Sharon

says:

That picture just made my day…I can’t stop laughing…followed by a rueful sigh. It’s so good to know I’m not alone. : )

Lindsay

says:

Sometime my 5 year old gets burned out so we take a break and come back renewed and fresh.

Joy

says:

I am hoping that we can work through spelling calmly this year. :)

Sharn

says:

I enjoyed this post. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement.

Kandi

says:

Thanks for the great tips. I usually take a break from whatever it is and then go back later when we both have calmed down and can approach it with a fresh attitude.

Angela O

says:

To help ward off the frustrations in the first place, I like to set the timer for 15 minute work segments. It helps my competitive child feel an accomplishment, and it helps my non-focused child to focus, plus it helps all of them to know there’s an end in sight and a change of “scenery” coming up! I love the other ideas you’ve mentioned.

kathleen

says:

I try to change the subject being carried out and do a different activity that catches the child’s attention.

Laurie

says:

These are great tips! I have had to learn how to handle these situations. Unfortunately I haven’t always keep the cool. One thing I realize that If I’m easily frustrated by their reactions then I’m getting burned out. Time for a field trip, park date or some relaxed schooling. I’ve had to decide if my child is frustrated because it is hard or is it because they would rather be doing something else. My daughter has really struggled with reading but loves math. we’ve tried so many phonics programs. I have drug my feet buying AAS because when I was first trying to figure out how to help my daughter I met with a specialist who was also a big “help” in the homeschool community. She even coordinates a big conference in the South. She didn’t recommend AAS! Can you believe it? I didn’t know any better. I started zig zagging all around the different products. Not being able to afford the one she said I should use. I was able to look at a TM recently and I’m SO frustrated! Why have I waited so long?!!! I think of all the tears and frustration that could have been avoided not to mention what my daughter has felt.

Angela O

says:

Laurie, we tried 5+ phonics programs before stumbling upon AAS/AAR, so I understand your frustrations. THis program is what has clicked! I’m so thankful for the progress and confidence AAS has given my son. He still does struggle, but not like before and he’s now reading daily, most times without me having to coax him.

michelle

says:

I have learned after a couple of years to just take a mental break! After he isn’t so overwhelmed it is never as difficult when we go back to tackle it again. :-)

Jen M.

says:

We also use exercise to overcome tears and road blocks – sometimes this works better than others! My son likes it when I time him, too (like one of the previous posts mentioned). I’d like to get a mini-trampoline, too (but I’m not sure where we would put it in this townhouse!).

Cheryl Powell

says:

RECESS!!! Take a break, step away from it. Get some exercise, snack/lunch, get the other children settled doing something else and come back later when you both are refreshed and can focus.

Natalia Johnson

says:

Its always good to remember that you are not alone in your frustrations and that even at your worst God has His hand stretched out waiting for you to take that time with Him.

Tiffany

says:

When we hit a frustration wall we normally take a break. We get out of our classroom. Sometimes we even leave the house to run an errand. Leaving the house really helps because it gets our minds off the frustration. I think this year we will add in doing physical exercise to our escape ideas. Thanks for the idea.

Sonya

says:

This post was an encouraging read today! We have many tears with spelling. What seems to work for us is to break down what he is getting frustrated with into its simplest components. For spelling it means using our tokens. I always recognise verbally that this is hard for him, but then encourage him to work through the problem. Most times this works for him, but sometimes it doesn’t and I think I need to be more open to taking a break. I also keep reminding myself how far we have come, I look back over the work we have done and remind my son of his progress, and I tell him I am proud of him and his hard work. In life right now I am one of his very few cheerleaders, I consider that a hugely important role, we celebrate the successes! Thanks for the encouraging read, it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this.

Christina

says:

This really hits home with me. Thanks for writing this!

Helen Schwartz

says:

In my classroom I sometimes sing spelling sentences to the class for dictation, a few words at a time, repeated and then adding more to the sentence until all of them have the entire sentence. Sometimes they sing it back to me! They love the challenge of trying to get the most words into a sentence that makes sense! Good luck to us all!

Jennifer

says:

I have used all of these great ideas with my struggling reader/ speller. But I also had to set it aside for some time and then try a new approach. Games and competition against me or the clock have usually worked best for us, and tying the harder skills like memorizing to a physical activity such as taking a step per letter towards a finish line and then starting over on a spelling mistake seem to work. My son did that on his own:)

Maryna

says:

This post is so for me today. I recently been doubting myself in a big way. We really hit periods where I feel like I want to cry and my son really shuts downs, he sometimes would cry. We normally then stop and take a time out. I however then struggle to get back in to things after that. The worst that really gets to me and then I feel like I am not doing it right.
I pray and pray and pray most of the time to stay calm but mostly for guidance.

Jen M.

says:

You are not alone in this – I can totally relate! I find myself battling my insecurities so much in times like this (thinking that anyone could do a better job than me and wondering if I am “messing up” my children for life!). I hope this summer you get refreshed, encouraged and renewed (even if you are still in the midst of schooling).

Tracy

says:

Praying is so huge, because God knows our kids better than we do, and He is faithful. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man (and Mom!) availeth much.” (James 4:16b) God makes us righteous when we believe on his son Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9-10) and our prayers are powerful for much.
I have a friend who is a special needs teacher, and one day when I was having a particularly difficult day with my highschool age son (nearly ready to throw in the towel) I prayed, and she telephoned. She asked how it was going and I told her of my frustrations. She said, “It is so great that he is at home with you, and not in the back of some classroom where his struggles would likely go unnoticed.” Wow! Was that ever what I needed to hear! God knows what we need to continue, and He’s a professional! :)

LeAnn

says:

Whenever this happens, we get up and play a movement game. My DD is only 2, so for now…. It is all play activities, parent-directed. We only do a few minutes at a time of any activity! Thanks for the good info!

Meghan Hunt

says:

My son is a struggling reader and a perfectionist so I can relate to this article. I have him run around the outside of the house while I time him. He likes this.

T. Brewer

says:

These are great tips. We like to encourage the boys to express what is frustrating them and how it makes them feel. Together we take a few moments to relax then work on a solution.

A.Smith

says:

This is a great post for tips. I like to practice breathing techniques and just taking a moment to relax when frustration hits the boiling point.

Lisa

says:

Funny, I would suggest taking a break and doing something that they can already do well to build their confidence up again but it seems like everyone had this same suggestion.

cayce Groves

says:

We take a break, break it up into smaller chunks and talk about how everything is hard in the beginning and we just have to practice like riding a bike.

Amber

says:

Frustration and tears, stop what you are doing and go do something fun. I won’t go back to it again until the next day.

Julie

says:

I must take a break for a few or I will end up looking like Merry !!

Christie

says:

I switch things up when we start reaching that point. Grab a board game, a living book, take a walk in a park etc. It happens to all of us. Way more than we’d like to admit!

Melany Rivera

says:

Take a break- go on a field trip, a park or attraction the kids like. Breathe and pray for wisdom and guidance.

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