Last Updated on September 3, 2022 by Marie Bautista
Can you handle homeschool meltdowns?
It’s 3 pm and your child has had a total meltdown. All the toys are thrown across the room, the books are ripped from the shelves, and your sweet little angel is now a screaming banshee.
This type of behavior can be incredibly frustrating and it seems like nothing you do can calm them down.
Here, we have tips to help you handle homeschool meltdowns like a pro.
A day of homeschool meltdown
There will be days when everything seems to be going wrong. What is a homeschooling parent to do when your child is grumpy?
What to do if you are the grumpy one?
When you and your child are having a day full of meltdowns, it’s best to be prepared and implement the following advice and tips.
Always remember: Each day brings its own struggles, so don’t let one bad day affect tomorrow. Just move on and try to accomplish as much as you can under the circumstances.
It is normal to have meltdowns.
Homeschooling parents and children of all ages can suffer from meltdowns.
This is normal.
You can’t be at your best every day or expect your day to be perfect. This is especially true when you are homeschooling. Homeschool families live, work, and have school together without any breaks and that alone can cause the calmest family to deal with unexpected meltdowns.
Unfortunately, you can’t control how others feel. Meltdowns are part of life, particularly if you are dealing with young children or irate parents. Everyone has an emotional meltdown from time to time.
The following behaviors may suggest that someone is experiencing an emotional meltdown:
- Screaming and yelling
- Uncontrollable crying
- Feeling afraid or anxious thoughts
- Loneliness or depression
- Physically ill
- Low energy level
- Lack of interest
- Full-body meltdown (kicking/hitting/crying/yelling tantrumhttps://www.mommyunwired.com/how-to-stay-calm-in-the-midst-of-a-tantrum/)
- Unkind words or actions
- Shut down or try to escape mentally or physically
- Kids lose their ability to problem-solve or negotiate
- Doesn’t understand what’s happening
- Need time to calm down
This is easier said than done, but if you lose your cool, your child will only become more upset. In order to stay calm, you might want to:
- Take a few deep breaths
- Remove yourself from the situation for a moment
- Talk to someone who can help you remain calm such as your spouse or a friend
- implement structure
If your child is having a meltdown, it’s likely because she feels overwhelmed or out of control. One way to help her feel better is to provide structure and routine.
Structure will give your child a sense of security and predictability which can help reduce stress and anxiety.
Routine will also help your child feel more comfortable and confident as she knows what to expect each day.
Keep the lines of communication open and set clear rules on what you will and will not tolerate.
Explain that you welcome the child to speak respectfully to you. However, you will not tolerate verbal abuse, loud voices, or a disrespectful tone of voice.
Share the Workload
Ask each person what they are willing to help you with such as teaching a lesson, taking your child on a nature walk, or even being a substitute teacher for the day. There is no shame in asking for help with the responsibilities that you have daily.
Do you have a friend or relative that can run errands for you? Perhaps you can order your groceries for delivery or even a pick-up order. Just having someone else handle smaller tasks can free you up from having to manage every aspect of your homeschooling and family responsibilities.
When you are having a bad day, take time to analyze what made your day go wrong. If you are struggling with lesson planning, then reach out to a homeschool friend or online group and ask for help. There are veteran homeschoolers who offer advice and help regularly. You could also purchase premade and planned homeschooling lessons based on age and grade.
If you are overwhelmed with keeping the house clean then you could hire a house cleaner service to come weekly or monthly to help you with the cleaning responsibilities. There is no shame in seeking help from others and most cleaning services are reasonably priced.
Don’t be shy to ask for help.
Don’t allow yourself to fall into the mindset that you are required or should be the only provider of educational responsibilities, household chores, and parental duties. There are all types of support available to you, so be sure to connect with them.
Here is a list of tasks you need help with:
- Meal planning
- Grocery shopping
- Wash, dry, and fold laundry
- Wash, Dry, and put away the dishes
- Vacuum, dust, and mop
- Take out the trash
What about those specific classroom topics? Could you use a private tutor to manage certain lessons? Homeschool parents are not expected to know every topic, or every lesson, so permit yourself to hire a tutor. There may be options to join a local homeschool co-op group where there could be older students that can tutor those that are struggling.
Accept or Change
Being a homeschooling parent makes you realize that there are things in life you just cannot change.
If your child misunderstands the concepts, it may be time to find a good tutor or educator to help you both. Every child learns at her own rate and when she is ready. If you cannot get the child to understand, try other methods of teaching the information.
Assess what is not working for you and your child.
Do you believe homeschooling is not working out for your child? Take time to discover what is holding the child back in specific areas. Consider moving a child into a quiet area of the classroom that helps her concentrate better.
If you are noticing meltdowns on a regular basis, then it is time to find out what the issue is and why she is being difficult.
If you can make a change so it helps the child, then do so. Homeschooling calls for you and your family to be flexible and oftentimes, this means that the picture or original plans you once had are no longer working.
Is your child acting out due to frustration and is unable to verbally explain what she is upset about? That’s why it’s important to take a moment to see what is causing the problem for the child. Be willing to change the lesson or the way you are explaining the subject. You want your child to enjoy learning and to look forward to being homeschooled.
Children Learn When They Are Ready
You can’t force anyone to learn and you can’t make your child learn if she is not ready.
You can’t pressure your child into learning a topic or concept just because it is written in the lesson plans. If your child is mostly calm or enjoys learning but begins having meltdowns, take this as a cue that something is not right.
Learning must happen naturally.
Learning must happen naturally and cannot be forced so always make sure you create an environment that is inviting and educational. For example, meltdowns can happen maybe because your child is getting distracted by the noise outside your home.
Reframe the Situation
It is natural to react as soon as something goes wrong, but this is not necessarily the best thing to do.
If you are dealing with a non-emergency situation, then you may want to separate yourself and the child that is having a meltdown. Be sure to ask your child why she is having a meltdown.
It could be that she is tired, not feeling well, or just bored with her lesson. Younger children and children with special needs require frequent breaks and interactive or hands-on learning aids to hold their attention and to help them understand the concept.
Understand your child’s feelings.
Try to understand why your child feels the way she does and give her space to verbally explain how she is feeling. Be sure to adjust as needed so you and your child can enjoy homeschooling together. Your child can tell if you are being offended by what is happening, so give yourself a timeout if you need to before trying to speak with your child.
Talk to your child.
Keep the lines of communication open and listen to what your child is trying to tell you.
Maybe the child is hesitant to tell you something out of fear of hurting your feelings so be sure to let the child know she can speak to you about anything. Having open and respectful communication is important for the entire family, so you may need to remind your child this.
Talk To Other Homeschool Parents
Having a strong support system is essential in every aspect of life. This is especially true when you are homeschooling your child. You and your child are together all days, every day, seven days a week when you homeschool. You will need trustworthy, supportive family, friends, and homeschooling parent support to get through tough times.
Schedule a regular night out when you can leave your child with a sitter or family member. Giving yourself time away from the house, the chores, homeschooling, and away from your child is essential to help maintain your physical and mental health. Choose an activity that is fun for you and be sure to make rules before you leave. Remind your child that she needs to follow the rules.
Keep a journal.
Keeping a journal can also help you deal with the stresses of homeschooling and balancing the daily responsibilities that come your way.
Consider joining or creating a homeschool support team where you can call a trusted person if things begin to become overwhelming.
No doubt that other homeschooling parents have gone through meltdowns themselves, these are the people that can help you through these tough times.
Homeschooling parents can see when others are going through meltdowns and there is no shame in sharing your experience. In fact, having a support system that shares the real stories of homeschooling life is what will help others through this same journey. Keep in mind that what other people think is none of your business and does not matter.
Be careful of the advice to receive and just know that you are the responsible adult that loves your child and knows what is best for her. Take time every week to meet with your friends, aside from any homeschooling events. Time alone or away from your home is essential for all areas of your life and can really make a difference in your home life.
Back Off the Situation
Before a child has a meltdown, she often gives signs that things are not going well. During these times, it is a good idea to take notice of what situation is quickly or quietly arising and take action to help it not become an issue.
If the situation is already stressful then take measures to not push it. This might mean that you have the child go to her room and read, take a nap, or even just stop for the day and put her schoolwork away.
Keep in mind that subjects, homework, and chores can wait until the next day. There are no rules that require you to try and push a stressed child to sit for hours to accomplish that day’s work.
How To Manage Being Overwhelmed
- Take a break whenever you or your child need one
- Give yourself permission to call it a short day
- Change things up if the original plan isn’t working
- Ask for help with issues you cannot deal with or handle
- Reassess your approach and change what needs to be changed
Hear out your child.
When a meltdown happens, be sure to acknowledge the child and let her know you hear her. Staying calm can help de-escalate the meltdown right away. Listen to what your child is telling you. She may give you the answer to the problem.
If she is tired, then let her take a nap. If the child is not feeling well, give her the day off.
Plan How to Manage Overwhelming Times
If you are introducing a new concept or lesson and you see that you and the child become agitated, then try stepping back from the topic. Either find another way to teach that lesson or place it on the shelf for a later time.
Being flexible in your curriculum is essential to being successful in your homeschooling and there is never a reason to push a subject when it is overwhelming. Just because a curriculum is written for your age or the grade your child is in does not mean that your child is mentally prepared to learn it at that time.
Always have a back-up plan.
Have a plan in place to deal with the possibility of your child struggling with their studies. If you have a plan, you can take a step back and re-assess the situation.
Most children will verbalize or show you in their actions that the classwork is too hard for them. Take these cues as a hint to move on to a different approach. Remember, there are several ways to teach the same concept. If one doesn’t work, be creative and move to a different one.
Homeschool Overwhelm Happens for Many Reasons
- Too many tasks scheduled in one day
- Never taking a day off
- Juggling all the responsibilities
- Stress can cause you to be drained physically, emotionally, and psychologically
- Questioning yourself over every decision
- Frustration over things not going as you planned
- Loneliness can creep in and cause depression
- Multiple ages and classes going on throughout the day
- Lack of time management skills or unplanned interruptions
- Financial responsibilities that creep up
Be sure to maintain realistic expectations and don’t let your stress or worries affect your child.
It’s not fair for you to have your child live up to your dreams or plans. There will be days when you do not accomplish any school lessons and you must be all right with that fact.
Homeschooling is not like traditional schooling simply because you are only one person teaching multiple lessons, depending on the grade level. Be willing to change your plans according to the needs of your child.
Find Alternative Options to Avoid Meltdowns
Do not rely on one way to teach a lesson.
You may need to use multiple teaching aids such as whiteboards, dry erase boards, paper, pencils, or even laptops.
If you prefer one over the other but the child is struggling, then make sure that the change will benefit your child.
During meltdowns, be sure to take a few minutes to separate yourself from the child. Be sure the child is in a safe area. Give yourself and the child a few minutes of thinking time.
Once you have collected yourself and are calm, you can address the situation better. Remember to focus on listening to the child more than you talk.
Alternative Options for Teaching When You Or Your Child is Overwhelmed or on the verge of a meltdown.
- Put on a documentary that relates to tyour child’s lessons
- Allow your child to use games that teach the concepts she is learning
- Use interactive games and a headset to help the child focus on her work
- Art and Craft kits are always a great option to learn a concept
These alternatives are still educational but allow your child to learn in a non-restrictive manner which can give you and your child a break from textbook-focused work. Everyone needs a break from the same type of work, so consider fun ways to help your child get through the day.
If you see that the child suffers multiple meltdowns over the same type of work, take that as a cue to look for a different approach. Just keep in mind that you will eventually find a way to help your child learn.
To free you from having to be the lead on every homeschool task, teach your child to be organized. As the homeschooling parent, you would be the one to plan the lessons, but it would be best if you teach your child to work independently.
Giving your child freedom can often stop a meltdown that may happen otherwise. Your child can learn how to manage her time and complete the required lessons within the given timeline.
Even if your child does not complete her tasks for that day, something is better than nothing. And if she is doing a good job at accomplishing her work and not relying on you the entire time, you will feel less overwhelmed as well.
Teaching your child to self-organize
The option for self-organization can often keep you and your child from reaching the melting point in your homeschooling day simply because your child is given freedom to alter the schedule as needed.
If your child reaches a point where she is stressed over a particular lesson, she has the option to put it aside and come back to it later.
Before using this option, be sure to go over some rules and expectations such as:
- Clearly define what you expect your child to be working on.
- Give your child/student a timeline that still offers her the freedom to move her assignments around throughout the day.
- Use a timer set for lunch and other breaks, but ultimately allow your child to take a break as needed.
- Check-in on your child periodically to see what progress she is making.
Homeschooling should make learning fun.
Homeschooling should be a place where learning is fun. It should offer flexibility to learn at a pace that best fits your child’s needs and abilities.
There is no way to rush the learning experience nor is there any way to push subjects on your child when she is not mature enough to comprehend. Oftentimes, meltdowns come because the child is under stress and feels frustrated due to not meeting the expectations that are given to her.
Take a Time Out
Time outs are not just for your child.
You as the homeschooling parent need to take them often during the day, too! There’s no shame in taking a break as well. Just be sure that your child is safe and can get to you should she need help.
Be sure to explain to your child that you need a minute to yourself and that you will be right back in the room to help her.
Successful timeouts require the use of fairness for both the child and her age. It’s important to not punish your child out of anger or frustration with the situation. If you need to take a minute to separate yourself from the situation, do so. When you are calm, you can come back to take care of the situation.
Potential Reasons for Crying Spells
There are several reasons a meltdown may occur unexpectedly. Below are a few reasons that might be the cause of the emotional breakdown your child is experiencing. By knowing this information ahead of time, you may be able to ward them off. Of course, not every meltdown can be avoided so be prepared to ask your child what she is feeling and maybe work together to elevate the issue.
5 Potential Reasons for a Meltdown
- Hunger – Children need to eat more often than you may realize. If you are homeschooling more than one child, it can be hard to keep track of how often a child needs a break and a snack. By using a timer on your smartphone and labeling it “snack break”, you can avoid this type of emotional meltdown. Don’t push your child past the break. Otherwise, you may have more issues.
- Tired – Regardless of the age of your homeschooled child, she can use a nap during the day. This can be a quick 20-minute nap or a few hours. Either way, knowing the signs of a tired child can help you quickly decide to stop the lesson and take a nap break. It only takes one late night of fun or the beginning of a cold to cause your child to lose her much-needed rest.
- Breaks – It can be tempting to push your child to work until the scheduled break, but that does not always work to your advantage. If your child needs a break and she asks for one, then allow her to take it. Being flexible in your schedule is just as important as being flexible with your lessons. If you see that you need to push your child more often, take a break and discover what the real issue is.
- Expectations – Are your expectations too much for a child? This may be because your child is frustrated or isn’t mature enough to understand the lesson you have planned. Look at the homeschool curriculum as a suggested list of possible topics to introduce to your child. If a child is not ready to learn, you cannot force it. Put your expectations away and focus on the child’s abilities.
- Conflicts – As a homeschool parent, you have a unique relationship with your child. You are the parent and the teacher. As a parent, you still must hand out consequences for bad behavior and then turn around to be the teacher. This can often cause your child to react in a not-so-great way, but this offers you the opportunity to grow closer and healthily work through issues.
These signs are a blessing in disguise because the traditional school cannot accommodate these issues. However, as a homeschooling family, you can stop what you’re doing to help your child through a tough spot.
You can show your child how to take care of her stress in a healthy manner, instead of having it bottled up inside. Take each day as it unfolds and look for the blessings that are before you. Your house should be a haven and a place where your child can communicate her feelings and frustrations without being ridiculed.
Self-Care for the Homeschooling Parents
Do you find yourself having meltdowns during the homeschooling day?
This is a sign that you might not be taking your self-care into consideration. Neglecting your self-care drains you emotionally, physically, and mentally. This can overflow into the lives of your family members and essentially ruin your homeschooling day.
Below are some ideas that you can incorporate for self-care.
- Prioritize Yourself First – This is often difficult for parents to do because they are so focused on their children. However, this is the reason you need to prioritize all aspects of your health. Schedule time to exercise, listen to music, go out with a friend, or enjoy a spa day. Be sure to sit down and eat a healthy meal during the day and get in your recommended amount of water.
- Quiet Time – Give yourself time to start your day before everyone else wakes up. These few minutes alone can allow you to organize your thoughts for the day.
- Taking Breaks – Take a few breaks throughout the day. When your child is on her break, use that time for yourself. You might be tempted to work on chores or grading papers but be sure to hold off on those activities for another time.
- Date Night – Hire a babysitter and go out on a date. This is your special time away from the house and the children, so when you go out be sure to talk about other things that are not related to homeschooling or the family. Schedule regular dates and keep your babysitter booked for future date nights.
- Friendships – Be sure to surround yourself with supportive and positive people. These friendships keep you energized and that is important to your wellbeing. Take time each week to meet for coffee or an exercise group to give yourself a must-needed break.
Make a list of things you enjoy and keep it handy. This list can be your reminder to schedule time for yourself. Schedule yourself into your schedule just like you do for your family.
You don’t need a large budget to enjoy self-care. Many things are free like sitting in the sunshine, reading your favorite book, painting your nails, or taking a nap.
Here are a few quick tips to give you additional ideas.
- Buy a special snack and hide it for when the kids are in bed.
- Listen to music using your earphones while the kids are working on their lessons.
- Eat dinner with fancy dishes and candles.
- Have your kids watch their school lessons instead of having to stand and teach them.
- Do things that are not related to chores.
- Listen to music while in the shower.
No matter what is going on in your day, take time to eat healthy meals, drink water, exercise, and get adequate sleep. If you overlook your own self-care, this will be noticed by your family and ultimately will have a chilling negative effect. The direct care you give yourself will be seen by your family and this is an important fact you should keep in mind next time you want to shrug off your time alone.
Change is Required
Take notice of how often a meltdown happens.
Do you see a common thread such as time of day or topic? If so, this is a clue to change something intentionally. There are no shortcuts when it comes to homeschooling.
However, there are many options to help you through tough choices. Once you can pinpoint a common event or trigger, you can be proactive in overcoming and hopefully avoiding it the next time.
Still struggling with homeschool meltdowns?
If you are still struggling to overcome meltdowns, be sure you are being honest with your reaction to the situation. If you need help with parenting tips or are dealing with a special needs child then finding a professional can be the answer you need.
Be willing to change routines, homeschool lessons, your approach to teaching, and your delivery of the lessons. Your child needs time to process everything and if you tend to jump from one subject to the next frequently, this can cause feelings of overwhelming.
Difficult times call for change and that means you will need to be proactive in finding a solution.
The solution may take several days or weeks, but just stay active and move forward. Take it one day at a time and keep a notepad on what is working and what is not working.
These journal entries might be the key to finding the right solution for the meltdown and may show you an underlying issue. Sometimes, your child may have meltdowns for no apparent reason and if this type of situation continues, there may be a health issue.
Share your experience with other homeschooling families.
The issues you face in your everyday homeschooling journey hold great information for other homeschooling families. Don’t be afraid to share your story with trustworthy homeschooling families that are going through the same things.
By sharing your experience, you can potentially help another family find the answers they are searching for too. Having this type of support is essential to having a successful homeschool experience and creating a strong family connection.
There may be more times than you realize that call for you to just walk away from the situation. There is nothing wrong with closing school earlier than you planned for the day and picking up where you left off. There is never a reason to try to push through a situation that is pretty much lost so just take the day off and move forward with something else.
The nice thing about homeschooling is that you can move your lesson plans around until things calm down. Children love to play games so give them additional time to offset any stress by allowing them to sit down with a game. Free time also does wonders for overstressed children so be sure to allow this on days that seem to be overwhelming.
There’s Always Tomorrow
The flexibility that homeschooling offers families outweighs any interruptions that will come along. Whether those interruptions are planned or not, things will happen to you and your family during the homeschool day.
Keep this in mind when you are planning your field trips and curriculum. Always give yourself and your child permission to have an unplanned day off or to skip a subject that is not easy to understand. You never know what one day can bring so be willing and accepting that you can always work on the missing subject on another day.
Homeschooling families go through tough spots but that is what often makes them stronger.
Communication is one thing that homeschoolers learn daily in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Children can often be harder on themselves if they feel they are not measuring up to your standard so be sure to communicate to your child that they are doing well.