dealing with frustration

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 30: Make a Plan for Minor Frustrations

52 Weeks of Happier Homeschooling Week 30: Make a Plan for Minor Frustrations

Here’s something you might not know: When it comes to your homeschool life, dealing with big problems is much easier than dealing with smaller ones.

The truth is that little irritations—a particularly stubborn attitude toward a math lesson or a kid who totally slacks on his history work—can take a bigger toll on our happiness than big crises. That’s because big challenges encourage us to rise to the occasion and often come with built-in social support—your kid gets diagnosed with dyslexia or needs surgery? You’ve got this, and your community rallies around you. Dealing with a kid who refuses to work on his handwriting or who always grumbles his way through math? You’re going in with less patience and likely to garner less sympathy from people when you try to discuss it.

So how do you deal? Acknowledge that little frustrations take a big toll and figure out coping mechanisms to help you deal with them as they pop up. Think about the things that tend to irritate you in your homeschool life—and don’t be embarrassed if they’re small things that you know you shouldn’t really let yourself be annoyed by. Part of the reason small things can grate so sharply is that we try to convince ourselves we shouldn’t be affected by them. Make a short list of small gripes—when your kid interrupts your readaloud so many times that you read the same sentence over and over or your child’s dramatic sighs that accompany every writing assignment, for instance—and come up with a mantra or action to combat them. Maybe you tell yourself: “I’m lucky to have a curious kid, so I’m going to close this book right now and let him follow some rabbit trails” or you’ll head to the kitchen to start lunch prep when you give your writing-averse student a writing assignment. You know better than anyone what is likely to defuse your frustration, so take the time to think it through. And when you’ve got your plan, write it down—research suggests that writing things down is one of the most effective ways to make a change in your habits.

Your mission this week: Think of the little thing that gets on your nerves, and write down a plan to combat it. You can opt for an action—leaving the room, taking a walk, changing subjects—a mantra (“I’m thankful that we have plenty of time to practice handwriting, and I’m not going to get caught up in feeling like a failure because we’re not doing it today”), or a combination. Next time your irritation strikes—and we know it will!—use your combat method to cope.