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Addressing Tension and Frustration in Your Homeschool: Uncover Pattern No. 2

Address the 'white elephant,' the bubble of tension between you and your child while homeschooling, even if one of you tends to explode with emotions.




The Problem


The moments when tension rises between you and your child during homeschooling, emotions boil over, or one goes silent, leaving a 'white elephant' of unspoken issues between you... which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations.

  • "My child gets frustrated easily during lessons."

  • "I struggle to understand why my child is reluctant to start a particular subject."

  • "My child seems distracted or disinterested, and I don't know how to re-engage them."

  • "We often end up in power struggles over assignments and chores."


  • "I can't tell if my child is bored or genuinely struggling with the material."

  • "My child often shuts down and stops communicating when they are upset."

  • "You don't understand me!"

  • "How can I help my child deal with uncomfortable emotions, like disappointment and sadness, in healthy ways so I can teach them healthy coping strategies to manage distress?"



Ever struggle to find the right words when homeschooling your child?


Or worse – feel like you’re making things harder by saying the wrong thing?


You’re not alone! Surveys show that many homeschooling parents are unsure what to say during challenging moments with their children… and a significant number avoid addressing difficult topics altogether!


It can be tricky to navigate uncomfortable conversations when it comes to your child's education and emotional well-being. And it's no wonder you haven't found the right approach for those moments, with so much fluff out there that doesn't give you clear answers on what to do.


But finding that courage can mean the difference between a successful homeschooling experience — and constant frustration.





A Basic Plan

Demonstrate that you understand them, by telling them what they are feeling, or thinking.

Labels are verbal observations that mention what you observe about the other person's feelings, emotions, or thoughts. If you can pinpoint what is going on in their life and in their words. You demonstrate that you understand the other person thinking, or feeling. And by doing that, you build trust and defuse tension, making it easier to address and resolve conflicts.


How?


Important: It only works when you genuinely want to understand their position and perspective. Use a non-judgmental tone of voice(!)

1. Start your sentence with...

1. “It looks like.... (something just crossed your mind).”


2.“It sounds like.... (you’re uncomfortable with that).”


3. “It seems like.... (you’re hesitant).”

2. Stay quiet for a moment and observe








HOW THIS MIGHT LOOK LIKE


Whenever you notice tension rising or an awkward silence—use Labels to figure out what’s going on.

During Math Lessons:

  • Situation: Your child frowns and starts to fidget.

  • Label: "It looks like something just crossed your mind."


Reading Time:

  • Situation: Your child hesitates to start reading aloud.

  • Label: "It seems like you're hesitant to start reading."


Writing Assignments:

  • Situation: Your child slumps in their chair and sighs.

  • Label: "It sounds like you're feeling frustrated with this writing task."


Art Projects:

  • Situation: Your child suddenly stops drawing and stares out the window.

  • Label: "It seems like you’ve lost interest in this art project."


Transitions Between Subjects:

  • Situation: Your child resists moving from one subject to another.

  • Label: "It seems like you're not ready to switch to the next activity."


Chore Time:

  • Situation: Your child drags their feet and complains about chores.

  • Label: "It looks like you would rather read your book finish."


2. Labeling Behaviors and Statements You’re Uncertain of or Dislike


Instead of asking “What did you mean by that?” or the accusatory “Why did you do that?” use these Labels instead:


During Science Experiments:

  • Situation: Your child gets agitated when the experiment doesn’t work.

  • Label: "It seems like you have a reason for feeling upset about the experiment."



3. When There Seems to Be a "White Elephant in the Room"


When there are unspoken issues or tensions, use these Labels to bring them to the surface:


During Group Projects:

  • Situation: Your child seems disengaged while working with siblings.

  • Label: "It seems like there’s something on your mind about working with your siblings."


During Test Preparation:

  • Situation: Your child appears nervous before a test.

  • Label: "It seems like you’re anxious about this test."


During Discussions About Future Plans:

  • Situation: Your child shows reluctance when discussing future activities or projects.

  • Label: "It seems like you’re hesitant about our plans."


During Homeschool Meetings:

  • Situation: Your child appears withdrawn during a discussion about the homeschool schedule.

  • Label: "It seems like you’re uncomfortable with our schedule."


During Conflict Resolution:

  • Situation: Your child is upset after a disagreement.

  • Label: "It sounds like I am being selfish and not considering your side?"


Discover the patterns necessary to make your homeschool extraordinary. We all want to improve, but most of us don't have a clue where, or when, to begin. The Story Weavers Solutions books contain concrete prompts to keep breaking through old habits and creating the homeschool lifestyle you desire.


One place you can find this specific prompt is in Solutions Manual 1, Level 2:




Best of all, you don't have to think about it. Learn, grow, expand and improve while learning alongside your child. Take control of your homeschool as you destroy your negative thoughts (yeah those doubts) and turn them into powerful patterns that will make the difference in your homeschool learning.


Don't allow your homeschool to be anything less than extraordinary. Say yes to your risk-free opportunity and begin your journey today!





Another Way This Might Look Like in Your Homeschool:

  • Surface hidden negativity during a lesson. Next time your child seems tense, frustrated, or disengaged during a lesson, try saying out loud what you think, they are thinking: "This feels tough, doesn’t it?" You’ll likely experience a sigh of relief from your child, helping them feel understood and more able to think clearly, making it easier to move forward.

  • Articulate clearly to yourself what you’re worried about. When you notice you’re stressing out about a homeschooling challenge, take a moment to identify what really matters to you and what you’re truly worried about. Say your concern out loud, or write it down. Look at it without judgment; the first step is to label your emotions very specifically—there are about 3,000 words for emotions in English, so you can be quite precise.

  • Tell someone, without seeking solutions immediately. Sometimes solo reflection is good, but telling someone can be even better. Before seeking advice, you might say to a friend or partner, "I just need to get this off my chest," or "Can I share this without you offering a solution just yet?" This can help you process your feelings before jumping into problem-solving mode.

  • Acknowledge your child’s feelings. When your child says something isn’t fair, simply acknowledge their experience. Say, “It can be tough when you feel like a teacher singles you out,” or, “I know it’s hard to see your sister get so much recognition sometimes.”

  • Use statements to address frustrations. If your child gets frustrated and mad when they don’t get something they really want, use congruent statements like, “It can be frustrating to not get what we want…”

  • Recognize feelings of unfairness. Say, “You may feel I have treated you unfairly and that I don’t want to understand you.” This acknowledges their feelings and can help defuse tension.



Science & Why


We often take for granted that others know what we are thinking or feeling, while in reality, most of us are more focused on our own thoughts and emotions. This disconnect means we often feel misunderstood if others don't explicitly acknowledge our feelings. Feeling understood is a fundamental human desire. However, we never really learn how to make others feel understood without triggering the response, “You don't understand me.”


Feeling Understood Matters


Research shows that feeling understood is crucial for emotional well-being. For instance, a study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology highlights that perceived understanding and empathy are key components of meaningful social interactions and personal happiness (Reis et al., 2000). When we listen to others and acknowledge their feelings, it can significantly improve the quality of our relationships, including those between homeschooling parents and their children.


Several studies have explored the impact of affect labeling on emotional regulation. For example, a study involving arachnophobic individuals found that those who labeled their fear by saying things like, “I’m anxious and frightened by the spider,” experienced significantly less fear compared to those who used positive self-talk or said nothing. Their palms were less damp, even as their hands got closer to the spider than the other groups. (Kircanski et al., Psychological Science, 2012). This finding suggests that acknowledging and labeling negative emotions seems to diminish their impact.


Further research by Lieberman et al. (2007) using fMRI scans revealed that labeling negative emotions reduces activity in the amygdala, the brain area responsible for processing fear and other negative emotions. When participants labeled their emotions; when they are able to choose a word to label the negative emotion they see in the picture – say, ‘angry’ or ‘scared’ – activity in their amygdala drops considerably, indicating that labeling helps to regulate emotional responses.


Why Labeling Works

Labeling involves acknowledging the emotions of the other person, which can diffuse negative emotions or reinforce positive ones. When you make a mistake and acknowledge it along with the other person's anger, you demonstrate understanding. This approach works wonders because it satisfies the fundamental human need to feel understood. According to Chris Voss in his book "Never Split the Difference," labeling emotions helps build rapport and trust, which are essential in negotiations and conflict resolution.


Tactical empathy is about understanding and acknowledging the emotions of others without necessarily agreeing with them. This form of empathy can be particularly effective in homeschooling.



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Critical Questions


These are questions we received from social media, email, and our chat function. If you have a question about this post, send it to us—we'll add it to the list to help all of us. (If you don't see all the answers yet.. come back...we are on it)

Q: How well does it work when you don’t feel the other person cares or understands you?

When we don’t feel understood, it often leads to conflict. As explained in the book “Crucial Conversations,” when people feel unsafe, they either fight (violence) or freeze (silence). Neither option leads to a productive resolution. Making people feel “safe” — respected, understood, and with a mutual purpose — is crucial for effective communication.

Q: What if you mislabel?

Mislabeling can actually be beneficial because it shows your intention to understand the other person better. Using phrases like “It seems” without judgment invites correction, which can provide valuable insights into their situation. Some people even use mislabels on purpose to give the other person a sense of power in the conversation.



Q:  What happens if you label the positive? 

Labeling positive emotions, such as saying, “It seems you are super excited,” reinforces those feelings. The likely response of “YES I AM…” shares and amplifies their joy. Labeling positive emotions makes sense because it strengthens the emotional bond and enhances the positive experience. 


Q: Can we use only a few labels to describe complex emotions? Yes, because labeling emotions helps regulate and manage them. People who can label their emotions are better at regulating them. If you struggle to label your emotions, it’s harder to find ways to cope effectively.

Q: What happens if I label my own emotions?

Labeling your own emotions can be very beneficial. Psychology professor Matthew Lieberman, author of "Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect," found that labeling strong emotions decreases activity in the amygdala and increases activity in brain regions associated with vigilance and discrimination. Putting negative feelings into words helps manage them, making you more aware of your emotions and how to address them.

  • Broaden your emotional vocabulary


When you experience a strong emotion, take a moment to consider what to call it, then try to come up with two more words that describe your feeling. This often uncovers deeper emotions beneath the surface. Practice this for both positive and negative emotions. For example, acknowledging that you are excited about a new project, not just nervous, can help set your intentions more positively.


  • Consider the intensity of the emotion


Estimate the intensity of basic descriptors like “angry” or “stressed.” Every emotion comes in various degrees. Understanding that someone who says they are angry might actually be annoyed or impatient can transform your perception and response. Regularly practice becoming more aware of your emotions. Distinguishing between “I am angry,” “I am hurt,” “I feel lonely,” or “I feel a sense of loss” allows you to take steps toward more desired emotions. If you feel lonely, for example, you might choose to reach out and connect with others.




Q: Is it just about labelling emotions or can it be used for something else?

Labeling can also prompt the other person to reveal more information.

Child: "Yeah, yeah, when you work on a science project, you have to do experiments and solve problems to get the right results."


Parent: "Sounds like you enjoy mental challenges."


Child: "Yeah, I do. I like figuring out the experiments and working on them together. It's like being a scientist in a lab."


Parent: "It sounds like you enjoy the whole experience of experimenting and discovering."


Child: "Maybe I do like discovering new things."




Let's address the white elephant that stands between us.

 


We value our communication with the community and always strive to address the 'white elephants' between us. Maybe you have unspoken thoughts that you haven't had a chance to adress with us:

"It seems like you might have questions aboutaddress how our product can fit into your homeschooling routine."

"It sounds like you’re wondering if our product will truly meet your needs."

"It looks like you might be hesitant due to past experiences with similar products."

We value homeschoolers who challenge themselves to talk about the white elephants. This is how we show we mean it: We invite you to visit our FAQ page and tell us what questions you still have about our product. It doesn’t matter if you have already purchased, are on the edge, or just really like our blogs. We are offering a 50% coupon in exchange for your open communication. Share your concerns, frustrations, or what you are waiting for.

You can reach us button via: support@story-weavers.com

or our chat buttom at the right buttom on our homepage.


Building an extraordinary homeschool takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. Get prompted automatically to use different patterns necessary to build a life-long love of learning with The Story Weavers curriculum, your resource for creating the homeschool of your dreams.


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