Monday, September 27, 2010


....woke up on the WRONG side of the bed this morning here at my house!  I'll give you a couple of wasn't me, it wasn't Dan and it wasn't the girls!  That should narrow it down for you.

I should have known when this person was still awake at 11:15pm last night reading his book and asking for a snack, that we could be in for some trouble.  When it was time to rise and shine at about 7:30 this morning, he wasn't interested.  It went down hill from there.

He wasn't interested in doing ANY of his lessons.  He fought me, tooth & nail.  I think it took him almost 2.5 hours to get his math lesson done.  Now, I realize that some of the seasoned homeschool moms out there might say something like, "So?  Just do the math lesson later".  If one of those homeschooling moms did say something like that, I would likely reply by saying, "I totally understand where you're coming from."  In theory, that sounds great, but in reality, the behavior that accompanied this exhausted 10 year old must be dealt with...and FAST!

I know that one of the many benefits of homeschooling is flexibility.  I'm also well aware of the fact that the world is not going to end if we become behind in our lessons.  In truth, the lesson plans that I purchased from Catholic Heritage Curricula are only meant to be guidelines and as the teacher/principal/administrator of our homeschool, I get to make those kinds of decisions.  To say that we are "behind" is relative.  I mean, behind what?  Behind whom?  However, I also know my son, VERY WELL!  He is just like his mom, a procrastinator!  He is also very stubborn (yes, he gets that from me as well, so sue me!). And when he is tired, watch out.

My reaction to this behavior is what really bothers me.  What I should have done was ignore him.  I should have just let him sit there, slouching in the chair, doodling on my tablecloth.  Instead, I engaged him.  I argued with him and I let him argue with me.  It was the battle of the wills.  It was me barking the orders, "You WILL do this lesson" and he was barking back, "No, I won't.  I'm NOT doing it!  I HATE math"!  We should have had a cooling off period.  Instead we provoked each other.  Remind me again who the adult was in this scenario because I forgot!

Kris over at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers had a great post about this today (funny how God works, huh?).  I wish I could have read it at about 7:00am instead of 9:30pm!  Kris writes:

"Sometimes, refusal to do schoolwork is less about blatant refusal and more about staying focused. When my older daughter was in about 4th grade, it used to take her forever to complete one simple math worksheet. It wasn't that she was incapable of doing the work, she just didn't want to. I instituted a reward system. I determined that it should take her 30 minutes to complete the average worksheet".  You can read more of her post here.

Coincidentally, while at School Aids getting some things laminated during our lunch break, I decided I would implement a way of rewarding obedience.  I picked up some simple seasonal charts and stickers.  When we got home I explained how it would work.  Every time they obeyed me, the FIRST time I asked, they would receive a sticker as a reward.  Once the entire page was filled with stickers, they would get to pick from a list of activities to do with either myself or Dan.  Some of the activities include things like....going out for ice cream, a trip to the dollar store, play a game with mom or dad, play date with a friend or getting to pick the movie for our family movie nights.  I thought it sounded pretty good, however, it didn't really go over that well.  Even the girls weren't taking the bait.  Apparently, the thought of ice cream was not a big enough motivator for them to pick up all the Polly Pockets off of the floor in their room.   Sigh.

The truth is, there is a part of me that really wants to resist this reward system business.  To me, they should obey just because I'm the parent and because I said so!   Why should I have to negotiate with a 10, 6 & 4 year old?  On the other hand, we are a family.  Being a part of a family means realizing (and I've said this before) that each of us are valuable.  We each have a part to play, we each have strengths and should be given every opportunity to use them for the greater good!

Here's the bottom line...the above mentioned son was tired.  He was up too late the night before.  I knew this.  I should have been more prepared.  Perhaps I should have let him sleep a little longer or put off his math lesson until later.  Either way, I behaved badly too.  We've since made up.  He and the girls made me a giant card:

It's hard to see, but it says, "We're sorry" and "I love U".  Each of them signed it.  It was very sweet.    Hopefully, tomorrow will be a better day.  I have resolved to make sure that MY attitude is better and hopefully, this will set the tone.  All of them were in bed early tonight.  I think a good night sleep will do wonders.

This is Nancy Widener and I approved this message! :o)


scmom (Barbara) said...

I don't use stickers either because they have never worked long-term and, like you, I think they should obey without reward (long-term that's what works). And in our house, delayed obedience is disobedience. That said, I let them wake when they are ready, so our day starts later, but at least they are rested. If bedtime issues continue, that can be a punishment separate from school -- like going to be earlier or losing a favorite activity on the weekend.

Mary333 said...

I've tried the reward system and it has failed all 3 times I have attempted it. I was resistant to trying it in the first place because, like you, I think children should choose to do the right thing because it IS the right thing and they are part of the family. Somehow, "the right thing" and "because we are a family" doesn't seem to be enough motivation for my daughter. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

I am having motivational issues as well. Praying for you, pray for me please!

Nancy said... are right, the bedtime thing is the biggest issue (I think). We've implemented some new routines and a stricter policy that I think will help.

Mary..yep, the sticker thing is not working. I'm alittle frustrated that I can't seem to find that one thing that will motivate (besides a pop on the behind) my kids. Sigh.

Therese...Oh how I feel your pain! I will most definitely pray for you! Let me know if you come up with anything!

Frizzy and Bird said...

What I like about your blog is your honesty. I like that you are vulnerable and human and that you are willing to admit you make mistakes. I would have done the same thing you did. I would have puffed up my mommy chest and played the because I said so or the because I'm the boss card too. I'm trying to do a better job at picking my battles. I'm trying to do better at not letting my feathers get so easily ruffled. Why is it even when we're the teachers or the parents we're often still the ones learning and being students?