Dealing with Homeschool Behavior IssuesJanuary 6, 2021
We’ve asked homeschool moms about the challenges they are facing. This series addresses their questions with solutions from experienced homeschool moms that have been there and found a way out!
It’s 2021, and we’ve had major behavior issues since COVID started. I think my kids are anxious and fearful as well. What can I do?
Answer from our experienced homeschool mom Stephanie:
As we walk into the new year and look back at the old, we see how people have handled COVID in different ways. We all have unique laws in our states and provinces that dictate our coming and going, but there are some commonalities that can, across the board, be helpful for parenting the behavioral issues related to COVID during this tough time. Many of these issues have manifested as a result of the stress, anxiety, and fearfulness that our children have had to face over the last year. Take courage parents, there are solutions and they include a calm, steady parenting approach; incorporating faith into parenting practices, setting boundaries, establishing a routine, and good nutrition.
It’s a given that behavior issues increase with anxiety and fear, in both children and in adults. Calming your child and assuring them of what is right in this world is very important from the smallest child to almost grown teens, who might see COVID protocol as a life-ending situation as their hormones are in full swing. My advice is first a calm, steady, parenting approach. Meaning, live normally as much as possible and do not obsess over current events in front of your children. Kids pick up on all the emotions that we put out there. If you are anxious or fearful yourself, please seek assistance, for your child’s sake. As well, turn off the news! I am personally a product of a family that obsessed about their own fears in front of me and I became a very fearful person who battled with this anxiety until the age of 22. Luckily, I didn’t have kids until the age of 28. You have a lot of power and influence as to how your kids will handle their own stress. Be a good example! Be encouraged!!! YOU can do it!!
As a young mother, we had our share of crazy, scary times, but I had gained courage by then, and it came through accessing my faith. Faith is definitely something a family can pull from to ease anxiety, fear, and to help with those behavior issues that have come as a result. My Christian faith gives much-needed comfort to my family and it also imparted a moral compass from which I established boundaries for my children’s behavior when they were young. From my faith, I have a worldview that tells me and my family that no matter what happens, everything is going to be okay, because we believe that when all is said and done that we will live forever in heaven with Jesus if we believe in Him. This eliminates fearfulness in my life when I tap into it! How is that accomplished? It happens through rehearsing the scriptures my faith provides. One such scripture is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him will not die, but have everlasting life.” Another one is: Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” When the kids were young, we memorized scripture together and put them on index cards, and hung them around the house. We also prayed together a lot! There is absolutely something so calming about giving over doubts and fears to something larger than self. For me, that person needs to be infallible, so the creator of the Universe is my first pick!
As a fearful child, full of anxiety, it was my ambition to bring everyone else to participate with me. I wanted people to stay with me, I would get people up at night to check the attic, and I would not sleep alone. My family played into this, and it only compounded the situation, but when I married, it was a different story. My husband didn’t understand and finally, I had to face my imaginary demons alone! It would have been much easier for me if my parents had firmly, but kindly, walked me through my fears. Therefore, it was very important to me to teach my children to face their fears, real or not!
A child allowed to accelerate and feed fear and anxiety will become an anxious and fearful adult just like I was. So how do we deal with behavior issues related to COVID fears? Boundaries are definitely a good place to start. How do you utilize boundaries to stop behavioral outbursts brought on by fear and anxiety? You definitely can’t force someone NOT be anxious or fearful, but you can guard the gate that will take them over the edge. As parents, we affirm behavior we want and we do not affirm behavior that is destructive. So, simply said, don’t fuel the fire.
Boundaries in fearful situations are of the utmost importance!
Other behavior problems caused by stress and anxiety that homeschoolers are experiencing during this unprecedented time are due to a lack of social interaction and physical play. So…it’s really a scheduling issue that can be solved relatively easily with a routine! How do I know this to be true? Well, I have a child with ADHD child that is now an adult. He needed an hour a day of physical play and a lot of time to explore with friends outdoors. If I failed to follow our routine, it resulted in behavior issues at school, and at home. Following a routine also lets everyone know what to expect, which reduces anxiety. When kids are unsure what to expect each day, they feel unsettled because they can’t count on anything. Everyone is more relaxed with a routine and it also gives reason to be prepared. Kids like a sure thing! Who doesn’t, right?
Last, but certainly not least…. good food makes for better behavior. Some foods that cause issues are food products that contain dyes, high fructose corn syrup, chemicals, and preservatives. Combine that with staying in the house a lot more and you have behavior issues on your hands! A whole-grain diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats is the best thing you can do for your family to ensure good mental health, as well as a healthy immune system to ward off viruses, and bacteria. Foods rich in omega-three fatty acids have the ability to calm anxiety, as well as hyperactive minds and bodies. Examples of these foods are salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, and flaxseed. You can also get Omegas in supplement form. Liquid flaxseed oil in fruity flavors is very palatable. Another mineral that calms anxiety is magnesium. You can find magnesium in dairy products as well as in brazil nuts. A liquid calcium/magnesium supplement can be found in fruity flavors as well and gives a great night’s sleep to a child in need. A good protein/carb balance is important in stress management. Too many processed carbohydrates and sweets cause a large increase in blood sugar followed by a large decrease in blood sugar. This drop triggers a stress response, resulting in symptoms of anxiety and even panic attacks for some people. So, it is very important to keep the blood sugar intact by eating whole grain carbs instead of the fast-acting one and balance those with protein from vegetables and or lean meats to keep the blood sugar stable.
If you find yourself in a place that requires outside help, don’t hesitate to reach out. It is when we take this initial step that things get better for us as well as for our family. Click here for a link to reputable counselors and hot-lines. As we venture into the new year, we may or may not find a cure for COVID-19, but we can certainly keep the stress, fear and anxiety and the behavior issues that go along with these emotions to a minimum by reaching out for help, practicing calm steady parenting with boundaries, implementing a routine, feeding our families good food, and accessing our faith. Happy New Year Mom!! Let’s get started!!
More About The Author
Stephanie is the Marketing Director for Soaring with Him Ministries and is a veteran homeschool mom of 21 years. Stephanie has had the unique opportunity to have lived in four different countries and four different states. Stephanie is also a board-certified nutrition consultant and founder of “No More Band-Aids” which is a ministry of encouragement to caretakers and those suffering from Chronic Disease. Stephanie’s passions are homeschooling, travel, health and wellness, and her faith.
See all of Stephanie’s homeschool articles.