I used to review curriculum, now I create it

Homeschooling the Uncooperative Child

We’ve all been there: the buckle at the knees, the unappealing pout, maybe the folded arms and determined scowl, all preceding the dreaded “WHY do I have to do this?!?!?!?” Find out how we homeschool the uncooperative child. Make sure you pin this so you can find it after!

How to Homeschool the Uncooperative Child: what do you do when your child is whining every time you pull out the workbooks? This post is a game changer, full of practical tips! Eduction | Whining | Motvating your Child | Schoolwork


Do you have an uncooperative child?

I recently had a mom comment on my FB page about her child who she is battling to do his work each day. She ended with, “I’m frustrated and overwhelmed. I feel like I’m setting him up for failure.” I had to stop what I was doing and pop over to my blog, because I have been there!

If you are this mom, battling your children to do their school and feeling discouraged, you are not alone! There are moments I hate what blogging does to our little homeschool fantasies! We look at these perfect posts on perfect homeschool rooms and perfect “day in the life” and we raise the bar of expectation for what it should look like. Bloggers rarely write about the bad days, the discouraging days, the complete and total FAIL days. But they exist my friend!

Last night I scoped with my two older kids, doing a little live Question and Answer session. I didn’t prep them ahead of time (other than to tell them not to say where we lived, etc.) and when asked what the biggest challenge of homeschooling was, my eldest son answered, “That I have to do it EVERY DAY.” And again, I was hit with the reminder that this is a real thing, existing in any home. Every child has their moments of questioning, of feeling sorry for themselves, of being stubborn or fighting you on something. This is NORMAL. So why don’t we talk about it?

You may have a little angel, but I can bet that you have had your days where it just didn’t work. Where doing school felt like pulling teeth, your teeth, with a rock and skate blade like on the movie “Cast Away.” Are you with me? Maybe in your house it is whining, maybe it is outright defiance and anger, maybe it is tears and frustration, but if you have a child of the human variety… it ain’t all rainbows and unicorns!

Tips to homeschooling the uncooperative child.

I’m going to break it down for you step by step. Ideas and ways to approach homeschooling with the uncooperative child. Once you identify your child’s problem, this will be a walk in the park my friends! Each one is a different approach and you may find some work better than others for you so experiment! I use different strategies for each of my children based on their learning style (don’t know your child’s learning style? Take the quiz HERE!) and based on the day.

Homeschooling the uncooperative child: get them to take ownership

  1. When they begin to become uncooperative, if you can sense they are starting to get overwhelmed, the tears begin to form, the frustration builds, STOP. PLEASE PLEASE stop! You are not doing yourself or them any favors by continuing when they are in this frame of mind. It could just be the day or it could be the subject or curriculum, but take a little break and re-evaluate.
  2. Is your child uncooperative regularly with a certain program or subject? Pay attention to when it happens. Is it a time of day? It could be your curriculum or approach, it could be a subject that really does not interest your child OR it could be time of day. There are a lot of variables, so pay attention, keep a log if it is helpful, and figure out what is “triggering” your child.
  3. Find a different key! If the problem is a certain subject, your job is to find a way that speaks to your child. You may be doing all hands on, thinking you are making it fun and killing yourself to do it like that, but maybe your child is an auditory learner and would do better watching a Netflix documentary or listening to audio tapes! Once you know their learning style, it makes it SO MUCH EASIER to tailor their education to what will work for THEM.
  4. Suck it up. This approach may or may not work for your child. There are some times that whether we like it or not, we just have to do something. With all my kids, we have eventually (and by that I mean over and over again) come to the place of “suck it up.” Kids in school have to do school, you have to do school, here or there buddy! If I find it is more attitude rather than a genuine issue with the curriculum, we sit down and have a little “heart to heart” about being a kid.
  5. IF your child’s problem is more an uncooperative attitude and NOT about the curriculum… MIX IT UP MAMAS! Try on of these, or make your own creative solution and share it with us in the comments!
      • start a sticker incentive program (with a little store they can “shop” at at the end of the week.
      • reward them with 5 minutes of screen time for every subject they complete (or whatever number works for you).
      • reward them with time spent with you. We often do the sticker system where the reward is a family fun night or bowling or date night with mom or dad (their choice). It works fantastic!
      • try to get their school done first thing. The longer it lags on, the more they will FEEL like they have been doing school all day (even if it really has only been an hour stretched out).
      • time them! Sometimes adding this simple element makes work more fun. Keep a record of their times, try to get them to beat their time the next day, etc.
      • if you’re working on math or memorization, bounce a ball back and forth as you each state an answer/word. Little games/activities like this completely change the experience, sometimes that’s all you need!
  6. Praise, praise, and more praise. With my one son, words of affirmation are his love language ALL. THE. WAY! If I am impatient and frustrated, he senses that and starts to shut down. He tries harder and harder, gets panicky and then ends in a puddle of tears (he’s 5). Although this comes across as uncooperative, the reality is he needs a different approach. If I start off what I KNOW is a challenging subject for him (ie. reading) with “WOW, You’re doing AMAZING!!!!” it’s like he is a different kid. I don’t focus on what he does wrong. Instead, I quickly help him out and we move on to what he CAN do, at which point I make a BIG BIG deal out of it. He is literally walking on CLOUDS. He can’t wait to do it with me because he feels like a superstar. His confidence blooms in every area of his day and he just blossoms. That’s the best way I can describe it. I need a sticker on his forhead to remember “TELL ME I’M AWESOME” because that is exactly what he needs to hear, every day. If you don’t know your kids’ love languages, grab this book, you won’t regret it!
  7. Are you helping enough? If your child is in grade K-2, they likely need one-on-one help for everything. If you start them off and walk away to help the next child, they may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of doing it alone and just shut down. I know what you are thinking, “But I have other children, everyone needs me!” I hear you! But you may need to find a more unique schedule to fit everyone in in order to make homeschooling more effective for your children. My kids can do their school 3 times faster with me giving them my full attention versus telling them to just do it! And if WE have a hard time staying motivated to complete tasks, how much more so our 5 and 6 year olds!
  8. If your uncooperative child is grade 3 and up, try giving them the reigns (with some guidance). What I mean by this is sit down together with them and come up with a plan of what needs to be done, fill in their lesson plans together and make sure to put in fun activities too (Danny’s birthday party on Saturday, going to their friends house after church on Sunday, etc.). They tend to take more ownership when they have been a part of the process and when they know they will miss out on those activities if they don’t finish what they need to do, watch them get it done twice as fast! 😉
  9. Eliminate the distractions that your child is facing. Are they an auditory learner with little siblings running around and playing around them (or in the next room)? Are they a visual learner but can’t keep their eyes on their work because there is so much else to look at? Are they a kinesthetic learner and have nothing to DO while they work (and are losing their MINDS)? Eliminate the distractions that your child is facing, and remember to think about their learning style. Looking for more details on this? I have a blog post tailored to each learning style with tips and resources to help them stay focused.
  10. Tailor their education to their learning style. Get creative! Check out the hand-picked resources and curriculum options in the list below!
    • For a kinesthetic learner, click HERE
    • For a visual learner, click HERE
    • For an auditory learner, click HERE
  11. Pray about it. If the problem is persisting and nothing you do seems to work, there may be more at play here than meets the eye. Maybe your child is facing some inner battles or struggling with something they can’t really express. Talk with your child but also spend some time praying about it and brainstorming together with your husband what could be behind their uncooperative attitude and what you can creatively do to help them. You know your child the best! Grab a pen and paper and fight to make their education not something they just survive through, but THRIVE through! You are uniquely equipped mama!

Napkin Man Interactive Videos: emotional development in children

Do you have an uncooperative child? What struggles have you faced and what unique solutions have you found?

I used to review curriculum, now I create it!