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Homeschooling a Child that: Cries

Few things can cause a mom to feel more defeated than a child who cries under instruction. Take courage mom! We will be looking at why a child cries during school, and how to help this child. Hope is not lost, and you may be doing more right than you think.

Let’s take a look at why children cry first of all. Children cry to release emotion, to try and communicate what they can’t put into words, and as a physical reaction when afraid, angry, or hurt. When children cry during school it could be for any of these reasons. Crying is not necessarily a bad thing, but should definitely be addressed and communicated with.

Possible problems:

Sometimes the crying child shuts down, quits trying, or throws a physical tantrum. In these cases, crying is not the problem, but a reaction to a problem.

Sometimes crying can cause the atmosphere of the schoolroom to become depressed, as other children sense the overwhelming emotions and hopeless attitude of the crying child.

Sometimes crying can frustrate the parent. A crying child can make it seem that the teaching is inadequate, the school is too much or the wrong kind, or that ‘homeschooling doesn’t work’.

Why are you Crying?

I will always suggest communicating with your child as you face problems in the schoolroom. You can apply different solutions like salve on a wound, but if you don’t communicate about the problem underneath you could actually make things worse.

The best way to open communication with your child and to understand them is by asking questions. Here are some easy ice breakers to get you started on this touchy subject:

  • You are crying, do you need a break or can we keep going?
  • Do you feel this is very difficult?
  • Do you want to step away for a moment and come back to this?
  • Is something I’m doing upsetting you?
  • I am trying to help you, am I helping you in a way you understand or should I try a different way?

The answers to simple questions like this, asked in friendly tones and without correction, help us to understand our children better. Once we understand the issues our child is facing we can address them accordingly.

What to do:

In my personal experience, most crying children are not ‘throwing a fit’ or ‘being manipulative’. But, should it be the case that your child is crying while ‘throwing a fit’ etc. you must address the temper and the physical actions before you address the crying. You are training your child to behave in a teachable manner, and physical outbursts will just not do.

Once you have asked some meaningful questions it’s time to do something for the crying.

Children are easily overwhelmed and excited, should it be the case that they are just needing a break you can set a timer for 5 minutes and let them play before returning to instruction. It’s important that it not be too long a break so they don’t forget where you left off or clear their mind of the problem entirely, but also it should be long enough they can get control of their emotions and have a sense of safety from the problem that had ‘trapped’ them

You can also change your approach to the subject at hand: is it too hard because of how it’s explained? Try adding some manipulatives, explain it in a story form, or let the child explain how they think it would be easier.

Maybe the child doesn’t think they are able to complete the task. That’s ok too! Tell them they don’t have to be able, but they do have to try their best. School is not to make a child succeed, but to teach them how. If they succeeded in the first try on everything there would be no need for instruction.

Perhaps you have a child like a particular one of mine and they just need to cry even if nothing is wrong. Crying releases excess hormones and is very beneficial for balance in the body. Crying should never be forbidden, shamed, or taken as a sign of manipulation. Ask some questions and make sure that there really is nothing wrong; and if not, continue on as if the child is not crying. This will also help them to recover themselves and keep from being set back.

Some children cry simply because they don’t know how to communicate their problems. Help this child by asking specific yes or no questions, and have them practice putting their thoughts into words. For example:

  • Are you upset?
  • Yes.
  • Are you upset because the work is too hard?
  • No.
  • Are you upset because you don’t like the work?
  • Yes.
  • Can you tell me what you don’t like about the work?
  • Yes…

Asking direct questions allows the child to create the proper communication pathways in their minds to formulate a reasonable answer. Vague questions like ‘what’s wrong?’ Or accusation type questions like ‘what’s your problem this time?’ Only shut down communication and cause confusion.

Lastly, if your child is scared, you need to change your approach. Are you too loud? Are you too demanding? Don’t be afraid to apologize. Work with your child towards a solution. A child should never live in fear of their parents. Maybe their fear is unfounded, or seems unreasonable to you, take your time to understand what makes them afraid and how to reassure them in the future.

Helping children understand their own tears better will help the entire atmosphere of the schoolroom. More importantly it will help the children as they mature to be communicative and confident. What have you done to help a crying child? Let me know in the comments!

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