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How do you homeschool an argumentative or defiant child?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I am just starting to explore the possibility of homeschooling my two school-aged sons, ages 8 and 5. Both are in public school right now, but it is clearly not working well for my older child-for a variety of reasons. I am fairly certain that homeschooling is the best option for our kids, but I hesitate because my oldest is a VERY argumentative kid. He is not a trouble maker, but he certainly lacks respect for my or my husband's authority. I am afraid that if I take him out of school he will just outright refuse to take part in his education at home. This is not at all a worry I have with my younger son.

Does anybody have any experience or advice on how to meet this particular challenge? First and foremost I want my son and I to have a healthy relationship, regardless of where he receives his education, and I don't want to jeopardize this in order to better serve his educational needs.

Thank you, in advance, for any light you can shed on this dilemma.
post #2 of 18
Has your son always been this way? Was he this way before entering public school? The reason I ask is that my youngest child (6) has always been stubborn and didn't listen well. But this was when she was in preschool for two years and then in kindergarten for a year. I was hesitant to remove her from school for the fear that I wouldn't be able to help her learn on a daily basis and was very scared at first. But since being home my DD is like a totally different child. I think the stress of school and the peer interaction made her grouchy and to where she wouldn't listen to us at home.
post #3 of 18
What kind of day do you imagine yourself having when you homeschool? I mean, in your mind, what do you see an ideal day looking like?
post #4 of 18
There's a great book called Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld, which would probably answer a lot of the questions you have right now, like why he's argumentative, how peer influences affect kids, and what you can do to get him back and solidify your bond as parents to him. It's one of the best books I've read on parenting. Highly recommend it.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
darcytrue: Yes, my son has always been this way...long before going to preschool, etc. He is very precocious and curious, but is particularly challenging when asked to do something he doesn't want to, or when being told he can't/or to stop doing something we ask him to. To top it off, he has the attitude of a stereotypical teenage girl--sassy, bossy, self-centered, etc. When I try to talk to him about how his behavior and attitude are affecting the rest of the family he says, "I don't care." The surprising thing is that he is a very sensitive kid when there is no conflict going on--he always wants me to give change to homeless people we pass on the street, and he has done so himself from his own allowance. He has a wonderful spirit...

LilyGrace: As far as what I imagine my homeschool day looking like...I'm still trying to put that part together. I would be more likely to use a curriculum than to unschool, but I plan our activities to be project/experience based, rather than using textbooks or worksheets, etc. I am leaning more toward a "classical education" type model (I'm a total nerd who studied Philosophy and Classical Greek in college, and I really want to incorporate classical language study into a very literature/philosophy based environment).

Hibou: Thank you for the book recommendation. I'll look for it at my library. It was actually a book called "Dumbing Us Down" that really started to solidify this homeschooling tendency that I have always had.
post #6 of 18
There was a post on here recently called an idea for those wanting flexible structure. Check it out, I think the idea might help, or give you ideas to help form your own. You can still follow a classical curriculum, but it might be at a slightly different pace, you know? But he gets more imput into his schoolwork -choosing what to do first, second..and if at least one or two of those boxes are subjects he has expressed interest in learning, then it becomes less 'work' and more 'play'.

We have a rule here that there's no electronics until 12pm, unless needed for schoolwork. Next year, that'll extend until 2pm. I can't micromanage those hours, but by cutting out the "zombie machines" his options are more limited to what IS available: the outdoors, books, puzzles, games..things I want him to focus on.
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by brinalicious View Post
darcytrue: Yes, my son has always been this way...long before going to preschool, etc. He is very precocious and curious, but is particularly challenging when asked to do something he doesn't want to, or when being told he can't/or to stop doing something we ask him to. To top it off, he has the attitude of a stereotypical teenage girl--sassy, bossy, self-centered, etc. When I try to talk to him about how his behavior and attitude are affecting the rest of the family he says, "I don't care." The surprising thing is that he is a very sensitive kid when there is no conflict going on--he always wants me to give change to homeless people we pass on the street, and he has done so himself from his own allowance. He has a wonderful spirit...
I am about to post this link in the forum, but I HIGHLY recommend taking this personality test for your son:http://www.personalitypage.com/cgi-local/build_pqk.cgi

I did it for my DD and it was so eye-opening-- it explains so much of WHY she is resistant to doing things our way. Now I see it isn't our parenting-- it's her personality! Honestly, being homeschooled has HELPED DD very much-- she is easier to live with, because most of the day she does get to do what she wants. I try to set up as few conflict situations as possible. I don't mean I walk around on eggshells, but her personality has taught me to reflect on what is really important-- to question everything-- and I think it is working.
post #8 of 18

Why is he defiant?

You may find that part of the defiance is from dealing with school all day. I'm not sure of your situation, but if he's ADD or a sensitive kid, he may just be so overwhelmed by school that he is venting his frustration at home. You may find that once he is home, he will calm down over time. Be sure to leave a lot of 'deschooling' time. It's really important to give your kids time to decompress and get used to the new lifestyle. I jumped in too fast adn had to backpedal. Read as much as you can about homeschooling - there are many, many different ways to homeschool and you may find that a relaxed approach will work better for your child. With my ds, I've started very slowly - a long period of deschooling and now we're starting with really small bites of learning....a little one on one learning goes a long way -- you don't need to spend hours on school. So -- read, read, read....try to figure out what's going on with your child and why he is struggling and then read, read, read adn figure out what style will work best. Best of luck!
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hibou View Post
There's a great book called Hold on to Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld, which would probably answer a lot of the questions you have right now, like why he's argumentative, how peer influences affect kids, and what you can do to get him back and solidify your bond as parents to him. It's one of the best books I've read on parenting. Highly recommend it.
I 2nd this book! I really think it might help.

Also, do his teachers say that he does these things in class? Or just with you? That can be very telling for you as a parent.

As far as your son's behavior, I would sit down with your DH and discuss this at length. What is acceptable and what is not. Come up with consequences that you will both stick to. Come up with rules that you can all live with and decide how best to implement them. Sit down with your son and tell him this is the way it's going to be. Don't ask him, tell him. Both parents have to be consistent and on board with this.

Do not even attempt to homeschool until some of the behaviors are addressed and start to improve. This does not mean to keep him in school, just let him decompress and work on the behaviors. Then slowly ease into whatever "homeschool" you decide on.
post #10 of 18
IMHO, kids like this are great candidates for unschooling. I know you stated that isn't how you are leaning but I'd keep it on the table, at least for starters. After your relationship is more solid, you can think about whether adding a curriculum is a good idea or not. Unschooling takes a lot of trust but kids like this really tend to blossom once they feel trusted. Many people switching from school to homeschool allow a period to "deschool". Some kids, especially sensitive ones, really need a year or two for this, not just a few months. My ds was still showing signs of resistance to schooly things a couple years after his ever so brief pre-k experience.
post #11 of 18
I tend to agree with 4evermom. I was dreading the thought of homeschooling DD. I could see us sitting at the kitchen table every day and fighting about doing the assigned work.

Then I found out unschooling existed. Learning takes places on the child's timeline and with her interests. The real world is the teacher. No longer is a schedule fought over or a certain amount of assigned work. The more I thought about this in my head and imagined it in our family the more I realized that all that energy she would normally put into digging in her heels would be available for learning. Since we wouldn't be sticking to a schedule we could use all day for learning. I started to get really excited about it.

I knew I could sit her down at the table and make her do assignments if I wanted to. I can be a pretty strong personality and I had no doubt I could fight through and win if I chose to go that route. But it sounded exhausting to me and frustrating for her. To me, it's not about "giving in" to her whims but more about being "sufficiently clever" to realize how her little personality works and to embrace it and work with it rather than against it.

I hope this makes sense and doesn't sound like I am attacking anyone who does structured HS. I totally don't mean to and I think for some kids the structure works great. For DD it sounds like a giant battle. So that might just be some food for thought on your son.
post #12 of 18
i think in your shoes i'd have your ds have as much input and say-so as possible. imho, your son is probably not trying to be defiant, but he's just strong willed and likes to have his opinions and thoughts heard. have him help to choose the curriculum, set up his schedule, ask for his thoughts and advice. plan field trips, outings, co-ops together, etc. it may help a great deal. have FUN! hugs.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LilyGrace View Post
We have a rule here that there's no electronics until 12pm, unless needed for schoolwork. Next year, that'll extend until 2pm. I can't micromanage those hours, but by cutting out the "zombie machines" his options are more limited to what IS available: the outdoors, books, puzzles, games..things I want him to focus on.
I totally agree. Fortunately, we are largely a tech-free family. We do not have TV or any video game things, and DS1 only gets 30 minutes a day of computer time (which I think he will end altogether when our internet subscription does not get renewed next month). He's VERY active and spends most of his free time playing outside or building stuff with DS2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mizelenius View Post
I am about to post this link in the forum, but I HIGHLY recommend taking this personality test for your son:http://www.personalitypage.com/cgi-local/build_pqk.cgi

I did it for my DD and it was so eye-opening-- it explains so much of WHY she is resistant to doing things our way. Now I see it isn't our parenting-- it's her personality!
That link was very interesting. I took the test and I think it really characterized my son spot on. He is an Extrovert, Intuitive, Perceiver. I do realize that largely the way he behaves is really more about his personality/character than my parenting, etc. We are currently working in a therapeutic setting to help him (and us) identify how to help with his impulsiveness, etc. He has been assessed for other behavioral problems and the psychiatrist we saw does not think he has a defiance "disorder" or anything related to ADD or ADHD, so at least we know there isn't some larger issue we are failing to address.

Quote:
Originally Posted by scoobymummy View Post
You may find that part of the defiance is from dealing with school all day. I'm not sure of your situation, but if he's ADD or a sensitive kid, he may just be so overwhelmed by school that he is venting his frustration at home.
Yes, I think a period of deschooling would be in order for him, and I do think he would do well to have a lot of input into activities, subjects to study, etc. I will also spend some more time investigating unschooling for a time. As I said, he is not ADD, but he is a very sensitive kid.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AnnR33 View Post
Also, do his teachers say that he does these things in class? Or just with you? That can be very telling for you as a parent.

As far as your son's behavior, I would sit down with your DH and discuss this at length. What is acceptable and what is not. Come up with consequences that you will both stick to. Come up with rules that you can all live with and decide how best to implement them. Sit down with your son and tell him this is the way it's going to be. Don't ask him, tell him. Both parents have to be consistent and on board with this.
He can be a little bit argumentative at school, but he's more subtle about it. Rather than just arguing he tries to talk his way into getting what he wants. He's very charming, so most people just acquiesce to him until they start to realize what he's doing. So, his teachers have never seen quite the temper that comes with his argumentativeness. He reserves that for his parents and grandparents . As far as setting down rules, we have done it in so many forms you wouldn't believe it. We have written them down--complete with consequences--and we have involved him in the process each time to get his input. Moreover, we are dogmatic about sticking with the consequences (which are often more unpleasant for us to deal with than they are for him, since we have to listen to his tantrums, etc. when he later loses the stated privilege, etc.). Once he hits a boundary that he doesn't like, he just blows up and it's all over. You can't reason with him or effectively remind him of what he stands to lose. After he calms down, the flames often get ignited all over again when we explain how his behavior has led to this or that consequence. Then, he just refuses the consequence and argues vociferously about it until the whole thing starts all over again.

Thank you all for your input, it has been very productive for me to think about your comments, questions, and suggestions. Please continue to give me any feedback you think might help. I have also been passing this "conversation" on to DH, who is very appreciative as well.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by brinalicious View Post
Once he hits a boundary that he doesn't like, he just blows up and it's all over. You can't reason with him or effectively remind him of what he stands to lose. After he calms down, the flames often get ignited all over again when we explain how his behavior has led to this or that consequence. Then, he just refuses the consequence and argues vociferously about it until the whole thing starts all over again.
I think you'd really find the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene helpful. It will help you see why imposing consequences is not helping. It's like telling a dyslexic child to read you a passage from a book you've chosen or else he won't get any ice cream after dinner.

Good luck! I think unschooling can be a perfect fit with an explosive child and you can still throw some classical stuff in there, just not in a "you have to do this" kind of way.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by brinalicious View Post
He is not a trouble maker, but he certainly lacks respect for my or my husband's authority.
IMO, this is the issue that needs to be strongly, lovingly and consistently dealt with. Your husband's kind, firm and consistent discipline can really set the tone for your days. It seems to me that whether your son is in school or not, that this issue is paramount to his well-being and your family.

That said, however, I find that argumentative children often have really good insights and questions about the world and I would take my time to address each and every questions he had. Listen to him, talk with him and when he needs genuine discipline, I would do so with kindness. I would not try to silence him to make your days easier. And when he needs discipline for harming others with words or actions, I would address it right away and with his best interest at heart.

post #16 of 18
I feel your pain My 7yo loves to do 'schoolwork' (we're very relaxed so there isn't a LOT of it, nor does it take terribly long and is a cooperative participant when he asks to do schoolwork. My 5yo on the other hand.. would argue with me vehemently about the colour of the sky He is THE most belligerent child I've ever met! My strategy thus far is to do a few short sessions with my older son and if mr 5 wants to join in that's great, but he doesn't have to. Sometimes he does and participates as long as his attention span allows then wanders off elsewhere, but he knows he's not allowed to be disruptive and is *mostly* good with that these days.

The almost 3yo on the other hand :
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by CariOfOz View Post
He is THE most belligerent child I've ever met!
OMG! I've said EXACTLY this to my husband about my daughter...so, almost exactly, lol - 'she' instead of 'he'.
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plummeting View Post
OMG! I've said EXACTLY this to my husband about my daughter...so, almost exactly, lol - 'she' instead of 'he'.
LOL too bad you don't live nearby! I think it'd do mr 5 a bit of good to meet his match... maybe the two of them would look at each other and go YIKES! lol

Know what's funny..he's proving me a liar today lol. He has been pretty darn mellow! But.. the 2yo as I said .. he's gone off the deep end with just the worst possible 2yo behavior
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