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Home > Support > Mothering > My daughter was having a great deal of stress and anxiety over going to school...
 
 
Question:

I am writing regarding trying to discern some issues with our daughter. She is 9 1/2 years old and is currently homeschooled because she was having a great deal of trouble in school, not with behavior or academic issues, but more with just wanting to be homeschooled and having a great deal of stress and anxiety over going to school, to the extent that she made herself physically ill with stomach aches, headaches, etc. Our pediatrician has said that she has real symptoms, but its stress/anxiety based. We decided instead of taking her to doctor to doctor, we would homeschool her.

This has been going OK, except for issues of focus, attention, etc. on her work. She would rather play with the dogs than do her work, which of course drives me crazy, and I just don't know if we are getting through enough work. I am also working part time, only 12 hours a week, but this does have its impact by my being gone. We also have a 4 1/2 year old that throws a challenge into the day and a 12 year old who has chosen to remain at our local Catholic school and is doing very well. I guess I am wondering if homeschooling is right for her, that we're doing it for the right reasons. I'm concerned that she may be too tied to me and that we're not helping her handle her anxiety/stress issues --- we've just taken her out of the situation, and we definitely have our challenging days where I wonder if this is what God wants us to be doing. I also wonder if I can homeschool and work, because we do need the extra income and it is so few hours a week.

She spends a great deal of time doing independent work. Is that OK at this age? We do talk about what she has read or worked on, and I do have to work with her on math and grammar, but is it OK that she does so much on her own? I do feel that on some level, God does want us to homeschool this daughter, but our day to day is so rocky, I'm not sure. Thank you for your insight.

Answer:

Dear Mom,

Thank you for this letter. It was wonderful to read as it beautifully addresses one of the concerns parents may have about schooling their children. It is obvious that you and your husband are concerned parents who are seeking to understand your daughter and this latest development in her behavior as much as to find ways to deal with the particulars her situation presents.

I admire you for seeking the advice of your pediatrician with regard to the physical symptoms that your daughter presents. This is usually the best place to begin when we are dealing with a change in behavior, etc. It is reassuring that there is not a pathological or physical reason for her health issues. However that does not lessen the necessity to fully understand what she may be thinking or why she is experiencing such anxiety.

I would suggest that you go one more step with the pediatrician. Perhaps you can discuss with him/her ways to approach this challenge. Perhaps there are certain questions you could ask her that would in some small way begin to unlock the why behind her behavior. Certainly it is normal for a small child to lack the focused attention to carefully work through school work, but it sounds as if her issues may have more to do with real anxiety. Are there areas of her development or family situation that may contribute in some way to this challenge?

Though she lacks discipline in some areas of study you state that she will work independently and appears to enjoy doing so. Normally this is not a challenge and many moms would be grateful for this situation. However what I think I understand you to be saying is that you are sensing that she is emotionally dependent upon your companionship more than you think is normal for a child her age. If this is correct then it would seem to me the best place to continue your care of her situation would be to engage her in conversation. It is not unusual that a parent's own child may find it hard to discuss their deepest fears with the parent. This is not a negative reflection upon your relationship with your daughter but more about her maturity and her lack of understanding. Most times children need gentle reassurance and time before they feel comfortable speaking about their fears. To a child their emotional fears take on a life all their own. They do not necessarily want to confront the fear and see conversation about the fear as doing just that. Sometimes they worry needlessly yet privately to the point that physical symptoms manifest themselves.

Before you can adequately determine if the homeschooling lifestyle is right for your family and in particular your little girl I think it is more important to address the concerns you are having with regard to her behavior and her anxiety. I would do some investigative work as far as the school situation she was in. Speak with her teachers and see if they can give you some insights that would help. Remember that there should be no attitude of competition with regard to where your little girl is educated. A concerned and loving teacher will want to understand the situation as much as you. Sometimes the dynamics in a classroom are very strained and there actually may be dramas unfolding that do so without the knowledge of the teacher. Could there have been a bully in the class or another student in the classroom that may have seen in your daughter an easy target? Remember that situations like this occur wherever children gather. When children are together it is not unusual to find such dynamics dependent upon the experiences the children bring to the gathering. This is not to say that we should expect or overlook negative behavior but we must remember that children are learning all the time. It is our role to instruct, guide, and model behavior that is pleasing and holy.

Please pray about this situation. Ask the Lord to empower you with information and questions that will help to determine the extent of the challenge. Speak frankly with your husband. Ask him for his opinion and insights. Spend time with your little girl in such a way that is not overwhelming. Gently work with her in order that she will feel comfortable and begin to share her feelings.

I admire you very much. Working outside the home is a challenge to be sure, but to do so with these concerns on your heart must be greatly difficult. It is obvious that you have a heart for your little girl and that you are eager to help her in any way necessary. Take one step at a time. It is a blessing that she is so young. Remember that it is more important to address the issues that are causing the most concern as these are the ones that will most likely affect your little girl as she matures. Each stage of a child's life presents its own challenges and rewards. Keep up the good work. I will be praying for you each day.

Dear Lord, we ask that You surround this family with the strength of Your embrace as they work to understand the challenges that they are facing. Send solutions into their situation and persons who will help them more fully cope with the challenges that are presented. We trust in Your care for all our needs. Please allow that this dear mother remain healthy and able to emotionally work through the situations that her little girl is presenting. Give this mom the great benefit of the gift of perseverance and patience. All these things we ask in Your name. Amen.

Sending out a prayer,

Rita Munn

   
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