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Home > Support > Mothering > I wonder if I should send my daughter to school, where an outside teacher could deal with her better....
Question: My oldest child is bright but she is prone to quick frustration and dark moods. It's often hard to progress smoothly through a morning of schoolwork, because some difficulty suddenly sets her off. The resulting crying and (often) screaming are upsetting to her younger siblings and draining to me. This low tolerance for any adversity carries over into a variety of daily tasks. Sometimes I wonder if I should send her to school, where an outside teacher can deal with her better than I. Neither my daughter nor I really want this, but she gets much of this personality from me. Help!

Dear Mom,

Isn't it amazing how quickly certain behaviors can derail an otherwise lovely day!? I think that as a parent I am more sensitive to those negative behaviors I see in my children which appear to model negative behavior in me. I have a tendency to discipline more harshly when I see that behavior exhibited. For example I have a quick temper. It is a problem (or thorn in my side as St. Paul would say) that I struggle, work and pray very hard to control. When one of the children loses their temper I am all too often spring loaded for a quick reaction. I think that I am both ashamed that the child has obviously picked up something from my behavior and I am concerned that the child will struggle as I have with the fault. Because I am more sensitive to a certain behavior I am apt to lose perspective when it comes to working to correct the negative behavior.

As parents I think that we sometimes think that because our children continue to make the same mistakes we are failing them in our desire to instruct and correct. We tend to think that if someone else were doing the job they would be able to do the job so much better. I think that this is only natural and comes from our great love for our children and our overwhelming desire to bring them to lifestyles that are healthy. We do not want to see them hurt and are willing to relinquish some of our authority in order that others might improve what we find flawed.

Sometimes outside persons may be able to help us gain our perspective with regard to this issue but most times they can only see the child and the behavior from a limited point of view. Teachers in school are really not in the role of parenting. Though they may find themselves in this position many times, this is not ideal. Teachers can only approach problems from one standpoint. In other words they are not able to bring overt religious opinions into the mix. The teacher may be a very good Christian person, but it is a fine line to walk and the compromise is difficult.

Classrooms would run much smoother and the time spent there would be far more productive if students were disciplined 100% from home and sent to school to learn.

I prefer to look at this issue from a different standpoint. Take a moment and imagine that you must send your dear daughter to public school. You know that she will be going to public school and you also know that her extreme behavior will make life very difficult for her and may indeed cause her some sorrow. Now what would be your response? I can sense from the loving tone in your letter that you would work very hard to help your daughter overcome the behavior. You would want to be the one who works with your daughter and gently helps her to manage this behavior. It would indeed be a challenge and it may require that you get the advice of others, but you would want to be the person who is doing the actual work.

When children exhibit extreme behavior it is a signal that there is much more at work than mere frustration. Sometimes this may mean that there are physical problems. Our 5th child was very irritable most of her toddler years. It was an extreme challenge to understand her issues and how I could help. Not until a routine physical did we discover that she had a hearing problem that made it nearly impossible for her to understand what we were saying. Our voices sounded muffled and broken to her ears. After she had minor surgery for the problem, she was a changed person. The change was overnight. This is just one example. It is important that we do not immediately assume that all behavior that is negative is rooted in personality. When there are extremes it bears investigation. Speaking with your health care provider may be a good place to start in some circumstances.

No matter the cause of the behavior we must work very hard to let our behavior be a good example and be for the child, behavior that is worthy to be modeled. When a child acts rudely or is disruptive we should not return this behavior to the child. Our behavior should be like a mirror. When they see our behavior towards them they should see the behavior we want them to have.

Another important teaching tool is to gently tell the child that their behavior is not accepted in the group. They will have to leave. Because humans are social beings we find it upsetting when we are not allowed to remain in a group that we love. My husband and I will say to the child who is upsetting everyone, "You will have to leave the room. If this is how you want to behave it is your business, but the rest of us can not tolerate your behavior any further." This has to be said with a firm tone, peacefully and without anger. Children need to learn that they are indeed responsible for their behavior and as such they will have to suffer the results of negative behavior.

It is a blessing that you have the summer months to make some changes and to instruct your daughter. Pray for guidance. Pray for the words that will be beneficial in helping her to become a more pleasant and helpful person.

Try not to tie her response to your instruction to the choice to homeschool or not. To homeschool or not is a separate issue. We do not want to hold public school over our children's heads like a threat. The behavior that needs changing needs changing because it is negative and will be hurtful for your daughter no matter where she is schooled. Jesus knows that you are the perfect parent for this dear little one. He has sent her to you because He knows that you will do what needs doing. Go to Jesus and ask for His help. Jesus wants the very best for every child and He empowers us with the skills, words, and actions to reach this goal.

Jesus, we come to You today and pray for a fresh anointing of Your Holy Spirit upon the efforts of this dear mom. Lord, she is faced with a challenge that causes her sorrow. Please help her to say what needs saying and to hear what her daughter may be trying to let her know. Give this dear mom creative actions for negative behavior. Please send persons to this mom that will guide her. Allow her to learn more about the challenge of handling and correcting negative behavior. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,
Rita Munn

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