Today’s homeschooling was a little bit tough earlier this morning. I had recently created a chart for the kids which had their goals for each day on it. For every goal that they accomplished, they got to check off the little box in front. At the end of the week, if they accomplished their goals, they would get a prize.
Well this morning was challenging when one of my sons felt that he couldn’t check off the box before his language arts goal for the day because he made mistakes on his work. The poor guy felt that in order to check off the goal, he had to perfect every single thing that he was assigned to do. But, the language arts goal for Monday was simply to finish 4 pages of his material. Because he misunderstood, he cried while doing his work and I reacted in irritation. I reacted because I felt that he was being ridiculous and having a bad attitude about his work. When I expressed my own frustration (which was a mistake), I saw the hurt in his eyes. But, I still told him, “I would like for you to go to the living room, leave your work behind and think about your attitude right now. Think about how you are going to change your attitude.” Well, during the time that he was in the living room, God spoke to me and told me to change MY attitude. He pointed out that I had not been encouraging at all and I had to apologize to my son.
So, I went to sit beside him on the sofa and I began to ask him questions about how he felt. I didn’t want to dismiss his feelings like I had earlier and I wanted him to have a chance to tell me what was bothering him. He expressed to me that he didn’t enjoy writing. And he told me that he was sad because he couldn’t get a check mark for the goal. My heart went out to him and I told him, “Hon, I want you to know that I love you. You don’t have to perfect your answers every single time. That’s why mommy is here, to teach you when you don’t know the answer. You need to learn how to write because writing is important, but I want to help you. You are more important to me than your language subject. And, the goal for the day is about finishing your work, not getting 100 percent all the time. If you try your best, that’s what matters.” I also said, “I’m sorry for getting irritated. I was wrong and I should not have behaved that way. Will you forgive me? How can I improve?” He responded, “Don’t get so angry with me.” Ouch. That was humbling.
Even though I don’t yell at my kids, there are times when my irritation comes across in a hurtful way because my tone and expression changes and becomes negative. Recently, I have also expressed exasperation, which has been wrong, wrong, wrong. So I apologized and said that I was really sorry and that I would change. I praise God for my tender-hearted son, who quickly embraced me and accepted my apology. I gave him a big hug and amazingly, he was eager to go back to his work. We got through the language material and he finished the morning by drawing the parts of a tree trunk for his Botany book and labelling them.
The road bump in our morning turned into a blessing because God used it to show me an area of improvement and my son finished the morning’s work with a good attitude! My learning was this: When your child gets frustrated with the learning process, give him the opportunity and a safe environment to express his feelings. Acknowledge his feelings without belittling them. Apologize for any wrong on your part. Affirm with love and acceptance and encourage the right perspective and behavior, assuring him of your support and desire for him to succeed. It does wonders!