Math is our nemesis over here! My daughter is dyslexic and sometimes that really works against her during Math lessons. She will flip a number the wrong way or get numbers in the wrong order. It seems small but for her perfectionist brain it’s the end of the world. As she has grown up we have seen some truly epic meltdowns over school work. I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips with you for managing homeschool meltdowns the healthy way.
Managing Homeschool Meltdowns
Homeschooling a child that melts down can be very trying. Whether it’s a sensory need unmet, a learning disability limiting their learning, or they are just too tired to learn, a melt down can ruin an entire day. It doesn’t have to though. There are ways to move past the melt down and get to the core of the issue. Here are a few of the things we have tried and found success with.
During the meltdown:
It is important to have specific boundaries established in your homeschool. If your child is getting upset make sure to let them know what their healthy outlets for that frustration are. You will not be able to deal with the root of a meltdown while your child is still hyper-emotional. There needs to be a way to cool down before moving forward.
Some things you might consider are:
Five minute cool down – This is a chance for your child to walk away and cool down for five minutes before returning to the situation. Make sure to direct your child to a safe place where they will not hurt siblings or break things.
Deep breaths- If you can get your child to take deep breaths this can be a great way to calm them down so that you can deal with the problem at hand.
Whispering – If you whisper to a person who is yelling at you they generally will quiet down to hear what you are saying. This will help you to avoid yelling while giving your child a reason to quiet down long enough to listen.
Have clear consequences communicated in advance.
It is very important to clearly communicate the consequences of a meltdown in advance. If your child is unwilling to be calmed with some of the above techniques these may be necessary to correct the behavior.
Some things to consider are:
Jumping Jacks – These are just about as fabulous as it gets. R has a set number of jumping jacks for days when she chooses disrespect. I do not have her do a lot of them but they are a great way to help her cool down.
Grounding – Does your child have a favorite activity or possession? Take that item away for a set amount of time. The time will depend on how bad the tantrum really is. There have been days where my children have been grounded for the morning from television. On other days, the meltdown has been much more disrespectful and they have lost things for up to a week or more.
Spankings – Not all families spank. If yours does having a set number of spankings for school related meltdowns may be needed to correct behavior.
After the meltdown:
Diagnose the real problem. – Your child may be losing their mind over something that seems trivial. Look at the bigger picture. Here are a few things that you may want to look at.
– Is it a learning disability? – For a long time they told me R was not dyslexic at her pediatrician’s office. Because of this, I thought her melt downs were due to laziness. Once I realized that I was trying to teach her in a way she was unable to learn we were able to move past it. Look at the trigger for your child’s behavior. Is it because of something they are physically unable to do? If it is, look for ways to teach the same concept a different way.
– Is it a sensory need? – A child with a sensory need may not be able to fully focus on the problem in front of them because that need has to be met. By meeting that sensory need, the child may be able to focus. Before I understood that R needed to chew in order to focus I would get mad at her for always chewing up pencils. By adding apple slices and celery she was able to get that oral input so that she could focus better. Look at your child’s sensory needs and see if there is one you can meet to help avoid a future meltdown.
– Is your child overtired? – Homeschoolers go and do a lot. A child that is tired and overwhelmed may be more likely to have meltdowns because they are overwhelmed. Does your child need a nap or an earlier bed time in order to better focus on their school work? Do you need to eliminate an extra-curricular activity that is wearing down your child? Look at this and see if it will help stop the meltdowns.
– Is your curriculum wrong for your child? – If you are working with a curriculum that works against the way your child learns best there is a greater chance of meltdown. This comes when the child is overwhelmed and feeling like they can’t do it. Give back their confidence by looking at other curriculum options.
– Does your child know how to communicate? – It’s very frustrating when you don’t know how to communicate the problem. Give your child the words to dialog the problem. For R, she will say, “UGH I can’t do this.” I will redirect it. I have taught her to say, “mom, I am getting really mad at this. Can you please help me?” It can be extremely useful to give our children the ability to say what they need and what is frustrating them.
– Is it a behavioral issue? – Sometimes kids throw fits because they don’t get their way. What can you do in your home to deal with a behavioral issue? I think the consequences mentioned above may be a great option to consider. It is important to communicate your expectations to your child.
What do you do to manage meltdowns in your homeschool?
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