As a former teacher, I felt pretty confident about being able to homeschool my kids well from an academic standpoint. As a recovering angry mom, I knew that being my kids’ teacher was going to bring with it some unique new triggers. And I was right.
For the last five years, I have been leading parents toward gentle parenting practices. The range of triggers toward anger is wide and long. We get frustrated by backtalk, sibling rivalry, exhaustion, laziness, and messy rooms. But for the homeschool mom, there is the added dynamic of feeling the pressure to educate our kids, socialize them, and keep them interested in the world around them.
Have you ever gotten angry with a child who refused to do their schoolwork? Do you get exasperated when a concept is challenging, and your child just doesn’t seem to get it? Do your kids complain and does that cause you to rankle and become frustrated? Have you ever been impatient because everyone needs something all at once?
Instagram doesn’t always help matters. Seeing pictures of families enjoying ethereal garden picnics and nature walks where young and old capture butterflies can send us over the edge. “Our classrooms don’t look like that,” we think to ourselves. “I’m lucky to get the science worksheets out of the book without tearing them, much less getting outside to traipse through creeks and explore for beetles.” We feel like we are letting our kids down, so we become short-tempered and irritated. Our perceived inadequacies make us angry with ourselves so it’s easy to get angry at our kids.
Hope When You Feel Triggered Towards Anger in Your Homeschooling
3 Tips On How To Handle Homeschool Triggers
1) Take A “Holy Pause”
In my book Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses, my co-author and I encourage parents to take a “Holy Pause” when we start to feel our blood boil. Ecclesiastes 7:9 says, “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.”
One way we can slow our angry reactions down is to slow our breathing. It’s okay to step away for a few minutes and get ourselves under control. In these moments I often say a simple prayer, like this:
Lord, I feel myself getting frustrated. I know You want me to be self-controlled and filled with loving-kindness. Help me be that kind of mom right now. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Often, that’s all it takes for me to come back to teaching with grace and a new perspective on my homeschool triggers. Sometimes, I stop right in the middle of the chaos and pray aloud with my boys, asking God to help us “reset” our attitudes and enable us to understand what we are learning. It’s actually a good thing for our kids to see us take measures to turn our own attitudes around! Triggers are opportunities for us to model Christ-like character in our everyday lives!
2) Be Fully Present
Another helpful way to address homeschool triggers is to set aside other distractions and prioritize. Be fully present, in the present! Because we are often working at home, we may be trying to do too much, all at once. The flexibility of homeschooling is a beautiful thing, but make sure that you are not trying to do too much. Or expecting too much from your kids or yourself!
We can also get caught up on our phones or other devices. I have found that a lot of my triggers are eased when I commit to giving our lessons and my children’s needs my full attention for certain periods of time. My brain is less scattered when I’m not trying to get a load of laundry folded and prep lunch as I’m trying to give them instructions.
3) Evaluate and Make Adjustments
Evaluate for yourself if your triggers are stemming from feeling spread too thin, and then make necessary adjustments. Whatever your triggers may be, the key is to remember that we can respond patiently and kindly in any circumstance. God promises to help us find a way of escape when we are tempted to raise our voices or shame our kids. Proverbs 15:18, says, “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.”
When we become slow to anger, the contention and strife in our homeschool room ebbs away. Angry reactions from mom only fans the flames. That’s not what we want! Our ability to deal calmly and gently with our children can only come from the Lord, so don’t forget to rely on Him throughout your day.
We will get triggered. That’s perfectly normal. What we don’t have to do is give in to those feelings of frustration. As much as we are teaching and disciplining our kids as we homeschool, God is teaching and disciplining us in our spiritual character.
Allow homeschool triggers to draw you into a closer relationship with the Lord. If we can allow ourselves to grow in gentleness instead of anger, the best education may not be the one we offer our kids, but the lessons God teaches us.
This is day 23 of the Homeschooling in the Midst of Hard Things Blog Series. We are so glad you are here!
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A former high school English teacher, Amber is a work-at-home mom of 4 little boys under the age of 11. She is the best-selling author of Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses and Parenting Scripts: When What You’re Saying Isn’t Working, say Something New. She and her husband Guy own Storehouse Media Group, a faith-friendly and family-friendly TV and Film production company in Los Angeles, CA. When she’s not building sand castles with her boys on the beach, or searching for Nerf darts all over her house, you can find Amber writing to encourage families on her blog at Mother of Knights www.motherofknights.com.