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How Do I Handle Stubborn Kids Who Don’t Want To Do School?

I am sorry if this is your situation.  It is hard when your child is not cooperating to make homeschooling a smooth transition.  I will give you three steps that will address two common reasons why your child is being stubborn. Let's make this helpful and practical.

The Motivation

Reason 1: Children react.  Your child's stubborn resistance may be a heart response to stimulus that they are perceiving.  You must address the heart issue.

Reason 2: Some stubborn children are driven by selfish motives.  They are not questioning and resisting because they are hungry for knowledge or have a burning desire for understanding.  They want their way and enter into an argument of logic in order to manipulate the situation to get what they want.

The Technique

Step 1: Address the heart issues.  Recognize parenting is a form of instruction.  When we parent we are instructing, primarily by example.  They mirror you! 

  • Explore and get to know your own heart, your feelings. How do you feel about school? How is this being reflected in your actions and interactions with your children?  Apply the capital T Truth to your feelings (see our post on Tending Your Heart).  Oftentimes when you change your perspective about a given topic, you will see this reflected in your children. Remember “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  Proverbs 4:23 NIV

  • Explore and get to know your child’s heart & feelings! Don’t be afraid of their words, and reactions.  It is very possible they don’t  understand WHY they are responding the way they are.  Journey together through these emotions in search of True Truth! Capital T Truth! God’s truth! Explain it to them. Teach them! Not sure how to do this, get help. Lifeways for Living exists to help you with things like this. There is NO shame in reaching out for help.

Step 2: Do not argue with your children.  Some children will try to fight you by using their words to prove you are wrong and they are right.  Do not get into the habit of explaining yourself to your young children.  The stage in which a child begins to reason comes in the late preteen early teen years.  At this stage you will begin to explain and reason with your child, but not for them to approve of your logic but so that they understand and learn to evaluate their thoughts, literature and write papers that follow formal logic.  This is not arguing, this is training, teaching and discipling.  Your younger children are in a different stage all together.  They are learning obedience and facts through memorization.  Don’t argue.  Establish a consequence for disobedience. Teach it to them using the next two times they are disobedient by saying;

“What you just did is disobedience.  What is the consequence for disobedience? Yes, that is the consequence for disobedience. Now this is a training moment, after two of these there will be no more training.”  

Never give a warning after this point.  If they disobey, discipline right away.  Anything less than this feeds your child's stubbornness. Remind yourself of Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (NIV)

Step 3: Provide Structure. Discipline is a strong tool in the parenting arsenal.  By providing structure that does not waiver or change, your children know what to expect and what is expected of them at all times.  This is actually a strong source of security for children and creates peace in their little hearts.  It is the difference between standing on a solid foundation and standing on a ball.  In one your mind does not occupy itself with standing but on succeeding in the task that is before you.  In the other you always feel like you are falling.  Structure their day, from wake up time to go to sleep time.  You can even structure some unstructured time in the day.  Then stick to the structure.

I cannot overstate the importance of structure.  When children have full days where they have nothing to do and can do whatever they want, it breeds discontent toward authority.

(As a parent, you may struggle with rigid structure.  We encourage you to follow the scriptures that speak about self-control and discipline. They are numerous, here are a few.  Proverbs 25:28, 1Corinthians 9:24-27, 2Timothy 1:7, Galatians 5:22-23, Proverbs 13:4 (I especially like the way this verse identifies the soul of the diligent as being “richly supplied”.))

Be aware that we are simply dealing with the question at hand, “How Do I Handle Stubborn Kids Who Don’t Want To Do School?”  This does not mean you exclude the need for laughter, joy & freedom.  Structure and discipline opens the door to be free.

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