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What to do when your child refuses to do ANYTHING at all?


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Hi there!

I've only started homeschooling my DS 6 (almost 7) in January and it's been a nightmare so far. Well, we got started out ok but things quickly went downhill and he now refuses to do anything. He throws himself on the floor or couch and growls and wails regardless of what I ask him to do. (well, ok, he does listen to me read things out loud to him but when I ask him to say one sentence back to me most of the time he refuses). I've tried a reward system, Ive tried punishments, but nothing seems to be working. I'm getting ready to put him back into school, it's just so frustrating. Our house is so full of negativity and it's starting to affect his younger siblings too. ANy suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated!!!

 

Laura

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Well, the adage, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink is certainly true with children. No, you cannot make your child do his work. I have a child that balks often, he's almost 11. I just make him sit there. He may not be doing his work, but he can't do anything else. Eventually he gets so bored he does his work. Also, he gets a little overwhelmed at times, so I'll just take my pencil, tap it on the page to focus his attention, make him read the problem, tell me the answer, write it down, then on to the next one. It's like he just needs a kick in the rear to get started and then he can do it on his own. Sometimes I set the timer. "If you get this done in 10 minutes you can have 3 chocolate chips...," or something like that. You just have to develop your bag of tricks.

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If it is strictly a homeschooling issue then I suggest that you back waaaay up. I recommend a lot of exercise before sit down school. We do most of our learning in the evening, in part because of our schedule and in part because my boys 6 and 7 do better when they don't have the fidget-whizzers making them more crazy or difficult than necessary.

 

What are you trying to do with him? Can you par it down to 2 things a day: reading and math.

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Thank you so much for your answers--keep them coming! So let me give you some more specific info.

We started half way through first grade mostly because he didn't like his first grade teacher and we had actually been planning on homeschooling anyway (and yes, he was on board). We had a new  baby in Feb. so that wa a big change but it seems that by now he should be adjusted (plus, he loves his little sister). i'm using a mixture of classical and Charlotte Mason method. He likes history (because it's mostly just me reading and we do projects), but hates reading, math, piano and anything else I try to throw in like spelling, poetry memorization (although he was good at it when we first started, now he won't even say a single line).

At this point I'd say it's both a parenting and a hs issue.

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Thank you so much for your answers--keep them coming! So let me give you some more specific info.

We started half way through first grade mostly because he didn't like his first grade teacher and we had actually been planning on homeschooling anyway (and yes, he was on board). We had a new  baby in Feb. so that wa a big change but it seems that by now he should be adjusted (plus, he loves his little sister). i'm using a mixture of classical and Charlotte Mason method. He likes history (because it's mostly just me reading and we do projects), but hates reading, math, piano and anything else I try to throw in like spelling, poetry memorization (although he was good at it when we first started, now he won't even say a single line).

At this point I'd say it's both a parenting and a hs issue.

 

I would explore the thought that the bolded is probably a big part of the issue. On what do you base that he "should" have adjusted"? Often, the real sibling rivalry does not start until a few months into the younger kids's life, sometimes only when they begin to become mobile. It has nothing to do with him loving or not loving his sister - he may feel that your attention is taken away from him and that  now he only gets it for school.

How much time do you have to devote to him exclusively that is NOT related to school?

 

I think starting homeschooling almost simultaneously with the baby's arrival was a bit much for him.

I would backtrack with the schooling and work on the parenting side only.

 

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We had this problem with DD6 at the beginning of this year, which was kindergarten.  I attempted to force a very formal style of schooling and she just wasn't ready for it (though if I left things out, she would wander over to them and do them on her own).  She would rather sit in timeout for hours on the floor than come do schoolwork.  However, for us, it was the change in schedule at home because my DH started to travel extensively.  That plus starting school was just too much for her to handle.  She was trying to "control" her world to feel safe, and the only thing she could really do was say no.  Once we figured out what was triggering things, we backed way off and became "unschoolers" for the majority of the year.  We went to lots of museums, spent tons of time listening to audiobooks and working on reading at the library or bookstores.  After we got back from a 2 week spring break trip, we started back up with doing a bit more formal work.  However, I specifically let her help me organize the schedule we would use.  She had also gotten a bit more used to DH traveling so much, so it wasn't as stressful as it had been back in September.  So, my question is, could there be anything else triggering the refusal to do school?  Can you afford the time to "unschool" or maybe have him pick out some activities from a list or help decide the schedule?  It worked for us to help DD6 feel more in control/safe, and her meltdowns stopped.  Now she actively asks to do school.  In fact, this past week we took our first break since getting back to a more formal schedule and she was asking to do some school activities after only one day!

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To echo the above, adjusting to a new baby takes months, in some ways years, not weeks. I agree to pull way back. Charlotte Mason didn't recommend starting formal lessons before age 7. 6 feels very big, especially with a new baby in the house, but 6is still very young. 

He is enjoying stories. Read the him. We start history at age two, but no narrations till seven. In the early years, they should just enjoy and absorb. If he wants to participate, let him, but right now he is telling you it's too much.

 

Read story math, play math games, read story books and picture books. Make sure he gets lots of outside time. Do informal picture study and music study, and nature observation. Keep it light.

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I'm also curious as to if this is a homeschool problem or a parenting problem, obviously it bleeds into both but what I'm asking is do you have problems with him being obstinate, whining, ect ONLY during school time or at other times too.

 

Stated another way- If he's a sweet obedient child 90% of the time and throwing himself on the ground and wailing only during school, you've got yourself a homeschool problem. If wailing and throwing himself on the ground is his go-to reaction to being asked to do something he's not thrilled to do (chores, bedtime, leaving places) then you've got yourself a parenting problem.

 

I've had both :).

 

Homeschool problems require readdressing your homeschool situation. Too much work (too many pages or hours)? Not developmentally appropriate (too much writing or narration expected)? Not difficult enough (bored unchallenged child)? Only you can really figure out what's "just right". But I think a normally obedient child suddenly refusing to do school is a major warning sign something's off. Have you tried asking him what he thinks would make the day go smoother? My kids and I assess our school twice a year and they often have good insight (he would enjoy math more if I took turns writing answers with him), of course other times they don't (he would enjoy if we stopped doing math). I'm clear that its a discussion, I'm not taking orders :)

 

Parenting problems require readdressing your parenting situation. Sending them to school doesn't really solve this except that perhaps you notice less as they aren't around much. I've stopped nearly all school (nearly all life) in order to rectify very bad attitudes. Disobedience is a tough nut to crack but homeschooling is nearly impossible if its allowed to run rampant. Summer is a great time for some hard-core obedience training and relationship building.

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Some 6 year olds are not ready for formal academics, and especially not ready for curricula that has been written for schools where the children have been red-shirted and cherry picked.

 

I recommend reading:

 

The Three R's by Ruth Beechick

The public domain books by Ella Frances Lynch

 

Visit:

The Ambleside Online forums for year 0

 

Traditional Waldorf schools do not start until age 7, and grade 1 is read alouds and the alphabet is introduced in all caps, but the children are not taught to read until 2nd grade, when they are 8.

 

I'll be adding more links, but am on a tablet so need to post them one at a time.

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I had a problem with my six year old at the beginning of the school year. When he would dig in his heels, I would too. We could go all day and up to bedtime with me saying, "you're not going to do anything else until the schoolwork gets done.". Which would make a spiral. Obviously, not getting to play and not getting time outdoors makes a kids attitude get much worse. The solution that worked for us was to start school time after lunch, then there's tons of free time guaranteed each morning. After lunch I expect him to do three subjects. It's mostly reading, writing, and rithmatic, but we've added history and science. It's not necessarily one of each, it might be three different math books, or writing, grammar, book report. But he's making great progress in every area he's studying. Some days I let him pick one, or all three subjects, some days I say, no, you haven't done enough of this lately. I'll pick.

The three subjects take 2-3 hours, after lunch. I write down what pages he did, of what, after he did it in my school day planner, after it's done instead of planning ahead. I changed the schedule to be every other week, year round. It's the same number of days as 190, but we do seven day weeks instead of five. I bust out music, art supplies, or science projects on unschool weeks, and we get a lot more of these "extras" done than we would have the other way. I've read that many homeschoolers teach one hour per day per grade level, so the short days we're doing are not uncommon. Besides, he's cooperating and making great progress in his subjects, and without any meltdowns over school. On the days he dwadles and doesn't finish within the 2-3 hours, I just write down the one or two things he did, and refuse to butt heads over unfinished work. He saw me do this a few times, and now takes it as a point of pride to do all three things, even if he started the day too slow, he asks for a short assignment so he can get his three things near the end. He still fusses a little at the beginning of the school week, but we've been doing this all year and I only have two days where I had to write, "he refused to do his work". Since that's all I did about it we didn't start the next day in an argument, like we did when I spent all day insisting he get it done.

 

I read something in a parenting book about "setting your child up for success". It explained the way SeaWorld gets Shamoo to jump for the show is, first they set the bar very low. They put the rope on the floor of the aquarium. They give him a fish when he swims over it. Then they raise the bar. They suggest the punishment be like a video game, because people will keep playing a video game. You died. You loose. Try again.

 

I still have parenting problems. My main one is with my six and three year old fighting. But I have succeeded using this approach with the schoolwork, at least.

 

ETA. His bedtime is at 8, but I'm willing to sit in his bed while he reads until 9, so really, there's one extra hour of hidden schoolwork.

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Parenting problems require readdressing your parenting situation. Sending them to school doesn't really solve this except that perhaps you notice less as they aren't around much. I've stopped nearly all school (nearly all life) in order to rectify very bad attitudes. Disobedience is a tough nut to crack but homeschooling is nearly impossible if its allowed to run rampant. Summer is a great time for some hard-core obedience training and relationship building.

 

I think it is more parenting issue right now although he was great until the beginning of the year (before the new baby), so I guess it is a parenting problem related to adjusting to a new family situation. Please tell me more about your hard-core obedience training and relationship building!!!

Thanks!

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I had a problem with my six year old at the beginning of the school year. When he would dig in his heels, I would too. We could go all day and up to bedtime with me saying, "you're not going to do anything else until the schoolwork gets done.". Which would make a spiral. Obviously, not getting to play and not getting time outdoors makes a kids attitude get much worse. The solution that worked for us was to start school time after lunch, then there's tons of free time guaranteed each morning. After lunch I expect him to do three subjects. It's mostly reading, writing, and rithmatic, but we've added history and science. It's not necessarily one of each, it might be three different math books, or writing, grammar, book report. But he's making great progress in every area he's studying. Some days I let him pick one, or all three subjects, some days I say, no, you haven't done enough of this lately. I'll pick.

The three subjects take 2-3 hours, after lunch. I write down what pages he did, of what, after he did it in my school day planner, after it's done instead of planning ahead. I changed the schedule to be every other week, year round. It's the same number of days as 190, but we do seven day weeks instead of five. I bust out music, art supplies, or science projects on unschool weeks, and we get a lot more of these "extras" done than we would have the other way. I've read that many homeschoolers teach one hour per day per grade level, so the short days we're doing are not uncommon. Besides, he's cooperating and making great progress in his subjects, and without any meltdowns over school. On the days he dwadles and doesn't finish within the 2-3 hours, I just write down the one or two things he did, and refuse to butt heads over unfinished work. He saw me do this a few times, and now takes it as a point of pride to do all three things, even if he started the day too slow, he asks for a short assignment so he can get his three things near the end. He still fusses a little at the beginning of the school week, but we've been doing this all year and I only have two days where I had to write, "he refused to do his work". Since that's all I did about it we didn't start the next day in an argument, like we did when I spent all day insisting he get it done.

 

I read something in a parenting book about "setting your child up for success". It explained the way SeaWorld gets Shamoo to jump for the show is, first they set the bar very low. They put the rope on the floor of the aquarium. They give him a fish when he swims over it. Then they raise the bar. They suggest the punishment be like a video game, because people will keep playing a video game. You died. You loose. Try again.

 

I still have parenting problems. My main one is with my six and three year old fighting. But I have succeeded using this approach with the schoolwork, at least.

 

ETA. His bedtime is at 8, but I'm willing to sit in his bed while he reads until 9, so really, there's one extra hour of hidden schoolwork.

 

Lots of great suggestions, thank you!!!

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Here is the African Waldorf pdf on child development. Page 51 starts the detailed description of the 5 to 7 year old.

http://www.entwicklungshilfe3.de/media/Bilder_ZSE/UEber_Uns_Dateien/Grundlagentexte/CHILD_DEV_TRAINING_MANUAL.pdf

 

Waldorf can be a bit weird, but I prefer not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. The African pdfs are more palatable to some people as they are Christianized and aimed at lower income schools. And they are free. :)

 

There are more pdfs here

http://www.entwicklungshilfe3.de/spenderinnen/download/

 

And there is some free Waldorf like math here.

http://www.arithmeticvillage.com

 

From ancient times, there have been educators that wait till 7 years old to start formal academics. Even Quintilian discusses age 7. Many countries in Europe still wait till age 7.

 

My oldest was a late bloomer, but then a BIG bloomer. Some boys are just not ready.

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I think it is more parenting issue right now although he was great until the beginning of the year (before the new baby), so I guess it is a parenting problem related to adjusting to a new family situation. Please tell me more about your hard-core obedience training and relationship building!!!

Thanks!

 

I found that schoolwork was not a place to teach work ethic. Work ethic is better taught with physical tasks than with mental ones. When I needed to deal with character, we cleaned house, and spent more time using the Bible as our literature/reading book.

 

My youngest was the most stubborn child that many people had ever met in their lives. I know it's horrible to say, but thank God he had asthma. He was so weak and tired, that I was able to wear him down easier. My punishments were not harsh, but they were consistent and relentless. I never never gave in. Ever. I was a brick wall.

 

I took away prized activities and possessions, until he gave in. I didn't talk much about it. I just quietly took things away. If he became loud, I walked away. If he started self-injuring, I did have to hold him until he stopped which sometimes took hours. As I said, thankfully he had asthma. He could only scream and thrash so long.

 

Don't give the child an excuse to focus on YOU. If you yell, or punish harshly, it distracts them from their behavior. The more consistent, but gentle the punishment, the better it keeps them focused on THEM.

 

There are no quick fixes. It's WORK. Hard work.

 

There were those days, I had one arm around the child's waist and the other on their hand and we picked up each and every toy that way. One at a time. I and the child would be drenched in sweat. But if I said, "pick up those toys" then the child was going to pick up those toys.

 

It was hard not to yell back when the child was screaming in my ear and trying to bite and kick and hit me. Sometimes I'd have to dump them on their bed to wear themselves out a bit. Then I'd pick them back up, when they were a bit more tired, and then wrestle them to pick up each toy. 

 

When we were finished, I'd remind them it would have been easier and quicker if they had just obeyed. And the next time I told them to pick up the toys and they refused, I reminded them of the last time.

 

"You have two choices" is an effective phrase. Often they don't fully understand that they do sometimes have a 3rd. "You can pick up the toys yourself and be done in 2 minutes, or we can spend 2 hours doing it like last time. Which do you choose?"

"I don't want to pick up my toys!"

"That's not one of the choices. Do you want to do it by yourself, or do you want me to make you do it?"

"I don't want to pick up my toys!"

"If you don't choose, I'll have to choose for you."

"I want to choose!"

"Then what are you choosing?"

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OK, this might be way off, but I'm wondering whether he might be feeling that the younger kids, especially the baby, get unconditional love and attention, but that his love and attention is conditional on school work being done. I'm not saying that's how it actually is, just that he could be perceiving it that way. I would imagine you are busy, looking after your little one and doing the home schooling, but does your son get plenty of non educational quality time with you? If not, could his unwillingness to cooperate be a sign that he needs more attention that isn't about school work? I know it's hard with little children, but would it be possible to schedule special time one on one with your 6yo? 

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I had a few questions La Texican! How did you get him to do school after play?? Was there any consequence if he didn't do it?


 The solution that worked for us was to start school time after lunch, then there's tons of free time guaranteed each morning. After lunch I expect him to do three subjects. It's mostly reading, writing, and rithmatic, but we've added history and science.

I read something in a parenting book about "setting your child up for success". It explained the way SeaWorld gets Shamoo to jump for the show is, first they set the bar very low. They put the rope on the floor of the aquarium. They give him a fish when he swims over it. Then they raise the bar. They suggest the punishment be like a video game, because people will keep playing a video game. You died. You loose. Try again.

 

Also how exactly do you make punishment like a video game, do you have an example?

 

 

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OK, this might be way off, but I'm wondering whether he might be feeling that the younger kids, especially the baby, get unconditional love and attention, but that his love and attention is conditional on school work being done. I'm not saying that's how it actually is, just that he could be perceiving it that way. I would imagine you are busy, looking after your little one and doing the home schooling, but does your son get plenty of non educational quality time with you? If not, could his unwillingness to cooperate be a sign that he needs more attention that isn't about school work? I know it's hard with little children, but would it be possible to schedule special time one on one with your 6yo? 

 

You might be on to something, he always complains that his 4yo brother doesn't have to do anything (and isn't impressed whe I remind him he didn't either at 4). I feel like I'm spending so much time with him already! But you might be right...

 

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I think it is more parenting issue right now although he was great until the beginning of the year (before the new baby), so I guess it is a parenting problem related to adjusting to a new family situation. Please tell me more about your hard-core obedience training and relationship building!!!

Thanks!

Adjusting to new family dynamics can be hard. I agree with Hunter that ethics/obedience shouldn't be taught through school work. Do you do a summer break? Can you at least cut back to the three rs and varied read alouds for a while? I would focus my time on two things for a while.

 

The first is teaching him to do chores or some other useful skill (knitting, gardening, yard work). Chores are an amazing obedience builder. I've also found that my boys take a lot of pride in their "work" and in being truly useful. Boys are just very small men, they are meant to be needed. It's also relationship building as in the very beginning you will be working side by side together, as he learns to complete the tasks.

 

My kids do three tasks in the AM and a zone in the afternoon. Right now my 5 yr old feeds our dogs and cats, waters the garden, and unloads the dishwasher (with me, in training) every morning. My 6 yr old wipes down the table, puts breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, and feeds the turtles and tadpole. In the afternoon the zones switch up. They might fold towels, pick up the livingroom, wipe down the bathroom, dust, weed the garden (Ds6 in training). Just as an idea of age appropriate chores. Im usually training one in a morning chore and one in a zone at all times. Sometimes zones are cross-stitching me new towels, though ;)

 

The other and more important thing I'd focus on is connecting in some positive way, every day. Listening, full eye contact, to a story he's telling. Watching a movie while cuddling. Going on a walk together with the baby in a stroller or carrier (and not being fussed over). I'm often horrified at how hard it can be to connect with each of my three every day. But when I'm on top of it our whole relationship improves.

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My kids do three tasks in the AM and a zone in the afternoon. Right now my 5 yr old feeds our dogs and cats, waters the garden, and unloads the dishwasher (with me, in training) every morning. My 6 yr old wipes down the table, puts breakfast dishes in the dishwasher, and feeds the turtles and tadpole. In the afternoon the zones switch up. They might fold towels, pick up the livingroom, wipe down the bathroom, dust, weed the garden (Ds6 in training). Just as an idea of age appropriate chores. Im usually training one in a morning chore and one in a zone at all times. Sometimes zones are cross-stitching me new towels, though ;)

 

The other and more important thing I'd focus on is connecting in some positive way, every day. Listening, full eye contact, to a story he's telling. Watching a movie while cuddling. Going on a walk together with the baby in a stroller or carrier (and not being fussed over). I'm often horrified at how hard it can be to connect with each of my three every day. But when I'm on top of it our whole relationship improves.

 

THis is very helpful thank you!!!

 

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I haven't figured out how to make punishment "like a video game" in the rest of our life (yet), only in schoolwork. When you die in a videogame, that's it. You failed. It's over. No lecture. No bargaining. You just go at it again. It's really no big deal to die in a video game. I guess if you die too many times in a videogame you have to go back a level, but there's never lectures or bargaining. The book made a good point that people willingly learn videogames, so maybe this is a useful approach. With the schoolwork we're doing this. If he doesn't do his work, we spend up to three hours trying. I refuse to let it go past three hours for any reason. The books get put away and can't be touched. Somehow, this has helped. There's a goal, three pieces of work written in the homeschool journal. If you don't make it you don't make it. Maybe you will tomorrow. I wish I knew how to apply this to the rest of parenting. I can't bring myself to be that dispassionate over the kids fighting.

 

Getting him to work after lunch is the same way I used to make him sit down to his work, in the beginning. It's time to do your work. You can't do anything else. If you try to do anything else I'll lock the cartoon channels on the tv for as long as I want. The difference is, instead of sitting there crying, he's sitting there doing his work. He's even asking for which work he wants to do. I guess it's not completely like the video game, because I would punish him if he decided he was going to do whatever he wants instead of schoolwork. He has to do three things on a school day, or sit with the book. The difference is there's no battle of wills over not doing the work. And now that's gone, he's started doing the work. I think the flexibility and the boundaries mixed togeather did it. You have to do schoolwork. It's the law. You get seven days in a row off. Who else gets that? There's a variety of work to choose from, and you just got to get three in each day. There's flexibility in that goal for weeks they need a lite day, or weeks they'll handle something meaty.

 

I consider reaching that goal of accomplishing three things in a sitting, making self-paced improvement in each subject, and the kid doing his daily schoolwork to be a great bar to set to start with. For me, that had to become the goal instead of planning what pages of what books have to get done on what dates so that school gets done. I'm not going to lie. My kid's ahead and doing some strong academics because I've been teaching him since he was three. But last year I sent him to pre-k to socialize. They told me at the end of the year that he hadn't done any work for a few months. I didn't expect him to learn much academically at school, but I expected him to, you know, to learn the routine of school. Instead he learned to want to get out of work. Now my current three year old heard a friend ask her kid, "do you have any homework?" Kid said no. My three year old kindly offered, "she can use my orange book". She was sorry for the poor kid who didn't have any homework. That's how my son was about his work before he went to school. We're back there now. It was a rocky start this year. I was worried because it was the first year that work legally has to be done. He was in a mindset not to do work. My priority had to become working this out with him. What was the actual goal? The goal was to learn to "do school". The goal was to show him he liked learning. It's back. He's curious again. He's asking for educational stuff.

I have a bit of a safety net, so to speak, because my kid's ahead enough he won't fall behind if I can't make him do his work. But all of his progress has been spending days consistantly of doing little bits of work. It was 15-20 minutes at ages three and four, 2-3 hours at age six. I've read that one hour is sufficient for age six. But, as I learned at the beginning of this year, all day long won't accomplish much if the kid doesn't want to do the work.

 

I still wish I knew how to apply the video game strategy to the kids fighting. It's not a goal they can do, or do again tomorrow if they fail to. The sibling's just always there. I guess that's it. Learning is like a video game because you just keep trying and you'll conquer the levels and get to cooler levels. I can give you space to "die" up to a few times in a row at that, just as long as you're willing to come back and try again.

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I watched a friends 6 year old fall apart after the birth of a fourth baby (the 6 year old was child number 2) and it took months for him to adjust back to his happy self. Part of it had to do with his mother's emotions - after birth no mother is quite the same either and it does take a while to adjust and the entire family needs to sort itself out again and find their new roles - no matter how many children there are.

 

For now I would stick to reading to him while teaching informally - try to pick books that will excite him, try and give him cuddles or whatever speaks his love language while the baby naps. You could read him some science and then send him outside to play (often the things you read will come up in their play outside) How often is he seeing other children - maybe try and get him out to a homeschool group or a sport or something where he can let off energy and be with other children. Children can learn a huge amount through just being read to if you pick good books.

 

You will have to start insisting at some point - but start gradually with just one very short thing and when that is going well and he knows what is expected and is doing it then add in the next thing. If he balks you could lower the expectations and try again or you could just insist (this will depend on your child and you and what you plan to allow him to do while he is refusing).

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I had a really terrible time with my 8 year old (my number one) after our fifth baby. He hated us all, except the baby strangely enough! I can let you know what worked for us when school (and life in general) was hard-going.

 

I cut back on the schoolwork to the absolute minimum - no spelling or poetry or whatever. Some reading, some copy work, some maths. This was non-negotiable and all I did was to keep saying over and over and over that he can't do anything else until this is done. It didn't take very long before he did it. 

 

Outside of this he needed to feel loved. Really, really loved. This was really the only thing that fixed it for us. Much more gentle, much more time, much more touching and hugs. Of course I love him, but he needed me to show it in ways that he understands.

 

Hope you find the solution!

 

 

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I haven't figured out how to make punishment "like a video game" in the rest of our life (yet), only in schoolwork. When you die in a videogame, that's it. You failed. It's over. No lecture. No bargaining. You just go at it again. It's really no big deal to die in a video game. I guess if you die too many times in a videogame you have to go back a level, but there's never lectures or bargaining. The book made a good point that people willingly learn videogames, so maybe this is a useful approach. With the schoolwork we're doing this. If he doesn't do his work, we spend up to three hours trying. I refuse to let it go past three hours for any reason. The books get put away and can't be touched. Somehow, this has helped. There's a goal, three pieces of work written in the homeschool journal. If you don't make it you don't make it. Maybe you will tomorrow.

 

 

Great idea, thank you! I like the idea of the homeschool journal too.

 

I watched a friends 6 year old fall apart after the birth of a fourth baby (the 6 year old was child number 2) and it took months for him to adjust back to his happy self. Part of it had to do with his mother's emotions - after birth no mother is quite the same either and it does take a while to adjust and the entire family needs to sort itself out again and find their new roles - no matter how many children there are.

 

Thank you! I guess I really wasn't sensitive enough to that.

 

I had a really terrible time with my 8 year old (my number one) after our fifth baby. He hated us all, except the baby strangely enough! I can let you know what worked for us when school (and life in general) was hard-going.

 

I cut back on the schoolwork to the absolute minimum - no spelling or poetry or whatever. Some reading, some copy work, some maths. This was non-negotiable and all I did was to keep saying over and over and over that he can't do anything else until this is done. It didn't take very long before he did it. 

 

Outside of this he needed to feel loved. Really, really loved. This was really the only thing that fixed it for us. Much more gentle, much more time, much more touching and hugs. Of course I love him, but he needed me to show it in ways that he understands.

 

Hope you find the solution!

Thank you! it's helpful to know this happens to others too!

 

You all have been SOOO helpful and inspiribng, thank you!!!

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I would focus on read alouds, fun math (play store....play with c -rods), and outdoor time plus VERY simple chores. Zone in on the relationship. Take him on a walk....to the library....out for ice cream. Relationship building is fundamental. Positive attention rather than negative. Try to do one tiny thing that is just the two of you every day (for us that is a bedtime story). That's my advice! :)

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I would focus on read alouds, fun math (play store....play with c -rods), and outdoor time plus VERY simple chores. Zone in on the relationship. Take him on a walk....to the library....out for ice cream. Relationship building is fundamental. Positive attention rather than negative. Try to do one tiny thing that is just the two of you every day (for us that is a bedtime story). That's my advice! :)

 

Thank you!

it seems like simplifying is what you all recommend...

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You might be on to something, he always complains that his 4yo brother doesn't have to do anything (and isn't impressed whe I remind him he didn't either at 4). I feel like I'm spending so much time with him already! But you might be right...

 

Just out of curiosity, are there any benefits to being older or just extra responsibilities? If not, maybe there should be. Otherwise the resounding answer to do you want to be treated like a 4yo is yes, and I don't blame him. That would stink.

 

The flip side is- why doesn't the 4yo have to do anything? Did the 6yo never have to do anything at all before starting school? If so, maybe that is why is balking? Maybe he needed a transition of doing little things before going from nothing to full blown school. Why can't the 4yo memorize poetry with him? Start with nursery rhymes and simple songs, and have them work together.

 

Then, let the older one stay up half an hour later than the 4yo if he reads to you. If he doesn't want to read he can go to bed, too. Isn't this what Jessie Wise did with her kids about nap time? Do you want to take a nap or stay up and read? ;)

 

HTH-

Mandy

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Some kids are like this. It does not mean you are a bad parent. Get this...my 5th child does this. Not the first few children, but the 5th! So, I do not think it is my parenting, the home schooling, or anything else.

 

I have no solutions. I am just going to keep plugging away.

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The only "official" work my 7yo gets done is usually bribed. :leaving:

 

I've had to undergo a huge perspective shift in order to survive him.  I've learned to find value in various video games and apps.  I've folded different concepts into regular play.  I've watched for opportunities to practice reading and math skills in every day routines.

 

Basically, he's an unschooler aside from the occasional bribery!  But it's working for him.  I fully intend to continue working toward a shift back to more traditional homeschooling, but I don't have the energy (or see the point, really) to fighting his nature right now.

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I have one child who is highly resistant to doing any school work whatsoever.   This child will sit at the table & silently refuse to work, distract the others, etc.     We are finally making some progress in this area- I've made it the child's problem and not mine.  We essentially told the child something like this:   You will sit at the table & work productively without distracting everyone around you.   If you don't have enough self-control to do that, then you will go to your room until you are ready to work.   You will not go outside, play with legos, watch tv or do anything else until you have finished your work.   You can work as efficiently as you want to or waste as much time as you want to- it's your work and your free time that you are wasting.    I've become very matter-of-fact about it.    When they mindless fiddling and bugging people starts, I immediately send that child to their bedroom.   No arguments, no whining, no bargaining- just go to your room & don't come back until you are ready to work.   I can't waste time with that foolishness anymore- I've got three others to teach who truly *need* help.  

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My 6 year old is a resistant child. And yes he fell apart and has been falling apart for the last 3 years since baby sister came.

 

Part of our issue, in case OP sees her situation in any of my examples, is that he is very active. Getting my 6 year old to sit and put a pencil to the page is tough. So I have had to use various tricks. First I just flat out tell him that he has to learn to read, spell, and do math---that's a nonnegotiable. 

 

But I try to mix it up. A game, a math read aloud, different manipulatives, and so on. It's somewhat a pain to organize, but I keep different programs and different techniques up my sleeve. He would be even more bored and more surly if I did the same thing with him each morning.

 

For those times he won't write the spelling word, won't answer the math problem, or starts melting off the seat and suddenly unable to hole the pencil, I just sit there like a stone. And keep repeating that he'll have to sit there until it's done. It also helps to keep lessons short, and to build breaks and physical activity in the day.

 

Honestly Charlotte Mason type stuff does not go over well with my ds. He is far too active to listen to too many read alouds. Science needs to be hands on and messy and fun. History isn't a daily thing, and hardly any read alouds. He enjoyed putting together a History Pocket (type of lapbook).

 

I learned from doing FLL this year that poetry memorization is not a hill to die on. If you and your child are coming to the point that there is negativity about memorizing a line of a poem.....drop it!!! Maybe look into Bravewriter's Poetry Teatime idea. Just read the poem, enjoy it, have some tea and treats, illustrate a favorite. Really ask yourself....what is the worst thing that could happen because my 6 year old does not want to memorize a poem? 

 

Also instead of asking for narrations or copywork with most of your read alouds. Just read some fun, enjoyable books just for fun!!! If everything is feeling like school with pressure to answer questions, or memorize something, the young child may just shut down.

 

Also get the 4 year involved with some fun math games, handwriting pages, and involve the 4 year old in any history or science activity.

 

I could be way off, but I get a sense of pressure here. Are you expecting more than your child can give right now? 

 

1st grade is really about a few things....learning to read/improving on reading, handwriting/spelling, math. Anything else is just gravy! And gravy is supposed to be good!!!

 

Just narrow down your basics, do them in a light hearted but expecting completion way, and then enjoy the extras. Make homeschooling about the whole family, rather than just the school age child. Art, nature study, science, history, read alouds, games and so on can be enjoyed by all.

 

And then your kid will still balk at times. He's a kid. That's what they do. How you react and how you correct is more important.

 

 

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Just out of curiosity, are there any benefits to being older or just extra responsibilities? If not, maybe there should be. Otherwise the resounding answer to do you want to be treated like a 4yo is yes, and I don't blame him. That would stink.

 

The flip side is- why doesn't the 4yo have to do anything? Did the 6yo never have to do anything at all before starting school? If so, maybe that is why is balking? Maybe he needed a transition of doing little things before going from nothing to full blown school. Why can't the 4yo memorize poetry with him? Start with nursery rhymes and simple songs, and have them work together.

 

Then, let the older one stay up half an hour later than the 4yo if he reads to you. If he doesn't want to read he can go to bed, too. Isn't this what Jessie Wise did with her kids about nap time? Do you want to take a nap or stay up and read? ;)

 

HTH-

Mandy

 

This is a great point, and you are right that he probably perceives it that way. HOwever, the 4yo DOES have responsibilities and work--I've even started him on the piano too, but of course he doesn't have to do 30 minutes like my 6yr old. And the 6yo also did have some responsibilities before starting school but I think you're right that the transition might have still been too hard for him-- transitions are his weakness anyways!

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I could be way off, but I get a sense of pressure here. Are you expecting more than your child can give right now? 

 

1st grade is really about a few things....learning to read/improving on reading, handwriting/spelling, math. Anything else is just gravy! And gravy is supposed to be good!!!

 

I love that gravy comparison! But really the "other stuff" isn't that much of a problem, he loves history and read-alounds. It's the math, reading and handwriting mostly. Even if I only expect him to do those three things, he'll still complain and whine and refuse. Even with short lessons. Often, he'll get started on something and then as soon as it seems to get difficult or something new is introduced, he refuses to go on. It's kind of hard to not pressure him when he won't do anything, ykwim?

 

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He is only 6 years old. Say that to yourself about once an hour until you internalize it.

 

Please, please, please read " how to talk so kids will listen and listen so Kids will talk". I wish with all my heart that I had been handed this book when my kids were little instead of some of these " child training" books that majored on authority and obedience over grace and respect for personhood.

Okay, I will practice that sentence :) (He'll soon be 7 though!)

And thanks for the book recommendation, I will check it out from our library asap.

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Just to add to all the awesome thoughts on here. When my kids start grade 1 work, they are given extras fun to go along with their extra responsibility. I also word it just like that before we start. They will be told that now we will be spending more time studying and learning things from books, but because they are going to be getting to good at reading, they now get to stay up an extra 30 min to read at night. They also get mommy and or daddy breaks, because when people work hard, they need fun breaks. We might go get an ice cream or go to the park or sometimes the kid will just want to pick out a favorite movie and cuddle for awhile. Kids need to feel like there are real bonuses to growing up. Growing up is hard.

 

Also, consistency might sound rather annoying to hear, but it really, really, really is the key to teaching self discipline and work ethic to these stubborn kidlets. My youngest has an iron will and when he was younger it was hard to control. I give him choices, but I make sure they are both choices that I am good with and he HAS to choose between those. I spent two days in a deadlock with him once over picking up his toys. I could have taken away all the toys, but he wouldn't even have batted an eye over that. I needed him to understand that I was willing to be fair with him, but he had to work with me and that I wouldn't back down. He sat on a chair in his room until break time when I took him for a walk (he wasn't allowed to go play with any toys he had to walk with me) then it was back to his seat. By the end of day two he finally gave and he hasn't outright refused me on anything since. He will disagree with me and I encourage him to discuss his disagreements with me (sometimes I even let him win), but now when I tell him something is non-negotiable and that it truly needs to be done, he gets it done.

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They will be told that now we will be spending more time studying and learning things from books, but because they are going to be getting to good at reading, they now get to stay up an extra 30 min to read at night.

 

This is a great idea, but I'm not sure it would work  for us, DS6 and DS4 share a bed (by their choice) and my 4yr old is really scared of the dark (and has his own issues--he's been having lots of nightmares lately), so he really needs DS6 right next to him to go to sleep.  So I'm afraid this might not work (DS6 gets to listen to CDs in bed though because he does fall asleep later than DS4). The special outings might work though.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest glamorganic

I get what you're saying. It really is hard when you expect so much from your oldest child (but I'm not saying you're expecting too much, I'm just saying that's usually how it rolls for a firstborn). I wonder if you've ever looked at the curriculum for parenting from Growing Families International? (I think it's gfi.org) They gave me real tools to deal with a child who is the most intense, most strong-willed child I have ever met in my life (and I was a public school teacher to thousands of children).

 

Sometimes you have to wake up in the morning, put on some 90's Jock Jamz to get you pumped up, and say, "I'm going to win this today. I'm dying on this hill." ;)

 

I agree with the chores/jobs. It helps attitudes immensely. When attitudes get bad around here and there is bickering, the disgusting basement floor gets washed repeatedly. If it continues, the walls get washed. Then bathtubs, and chairs, and windows, and the vacuuming gets going. Then I pull out the whopper: go pick up the dog poop. It helps.

 

Your 4 year old should be doing work (and maybe simple school), too. I know it is work for you, but he is at an age where he could.

 

When my stubborn child would refuse to do his school, he was only allowed to sit in a chair. That could be an 8 hour thing if he wanted it to be (usually you only have to do that once). If dinner came and still nothing was getting done, he could eat and then after dinner, go to bed. I had to repeatedly say, "You are not in control. Mommy is the Mommy. You need to obey."

 

Stay strong, mama! :) You'll get through this!

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30 minutes is generally way, way too long for piano practice at that age! 

 

At 6, 7, even 8 and older, I doubt my girls did anything 'required' for 30 minutes. No way did any single lesson take that long, definitely not music practice. History, maybe, if we were working on a project, but even then I didn't require them to work for that long, they just sometimes wanted to. 

 

While we don't reach the dizzying academic heights of some of the WTM kids, lol, I do think I have high standards, and they are doing well now as a rising freshman and junior on a college prep track. They don't need to start young with long lessons or long school days in order to do well. 

 

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My 8YO son is required to practice piano for 18 minutes and he thinks that is too much:).  That was the amount of time his piano teacher suggested for now.  You might want to rethink requiring a 6YO to practice for 30 minutes.

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