Teaching The Challenging Child

July 5, 2017
Mercy Every Minute   

When I first wrote the article, Homeschooling the Rebel, in 2006, I didn’t realize the impact it would have on homeschooling families. It seemed everyone had a challenging child, but no one wanted to talk about it. Finally, we could bring the subject to the homeschool table. Back then, I was in the middle of raising that challenging child. I was still working out where the intense rebellion was coming from and how to deal with it, and how to not completely fall apart each day—a lot of lessons learned—often the hard way. 

A few years later came Homeschooling the Rebel Part 2, where we talk about consistency, distractions, bad habits, and, more positively, we look at the blessing of being chosen to raise these rebels who were created to fight the good fight of faith. 

Again, another few years, and that challenging child was now a teen. So she and I wrote together the article, Homeschooling the Teen Rebel, detailing what to do with these teens, how to cope with them, and how to love them. 

Here’s the thing: From my rebel’s birth forward, I was her expert. I knew her best: what made her melt down, what motivated her, how she learned—I knew her better than any expert could. And, I had my own private Counselor (Christ Himself) to give me wisdom on a daily basis, and I often shared it with her.

Today, ten years later, through tear-filled days and prayer-filled nights, we now see a girl who is fighting the right fight. She was created to fight the enemy of her soul (instead of her parents and siblings) while making an impact on this ungodly culture in her pro-life, evangelistic efforts. She was created perfectly for this ministry.

God never gave up on her even when I wanted to. Not one day. He never gave up on me either. Where there is another day and another breath, there is always hope. 

I know that raising a challenging child can cause you to want to say, “I Quit!”—and believe me, I know those feelings are real! As real as that guilty feeling that keeps nagging you that you are not good enough for this challenging task. 

When these feelings threaten to take over, and life is challenging with your difficult children, run to your Helper. When you feel like you are failing and need extra strength, you will find it in Him alone. Just as no one understands your rebel as you do, no one understands you like God does. His presence and His Word are a lifeline to a drowning homeschool parent (and child)!

“Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25, 26).



Teaching the Difficult Child

The Homeschool Decision: How the Lord Changes Hearts and Minds

Public, Private, or Home Education: What Are My Options?

Michelle Beazer

Have you ever had to deal with that kid who, no matter what you do, seems to just balk at everything? Have you both ended up in tears because you just can't seem to connect? You talk, and everything you say seems to go in one ear and out the other? When you are trying the tenth curriculum this year, trying to find the one thing to spark this kid's interest in learning?  

Well, I sure have! In fact, I seem to be faced with this problem every couple of years. Just when I think I have found just the right curriculum mix so I can sit back and coast, my little angel will show signs of boredom or start struggling with the material.  

I always find the answer eventually. The pathway to the answer is always the same. I have to give it up.  Not give up on my child and not give up on homeschooling. Give up my struggling heart to my Father in Heaven. Search the Scriptures, and humble myself in prayer. When I lay it in His hands, the answer we need will come.  

Many times the problem turned out to be something entirely different than I had expected. The only consistent thing has been how startlingly different the answer has been each time! And different for each child . . .  

For one child, the problem was sensory issues with her clothes. She simply couldn't focus on anything because the seams in her pants and the terry in her socks drove her to distraction. Another time, the problem for my son was his energy levels made it necessary for him to move while he composed any essays or creative writing assignments. The answer was to have someone act as scribe for him as he walked around the room. My second daughter needed more time at home. She was overwhelmed with “extracurricular” activities.  

As I have gone through this process many times now, I spend less time struggling on my own and more time praying for guidance for my children and asking God what His will is for each of them and our family.



Michelle is a Canadian homeschooling mom to four great kids including two on the autism spectrum and two adorable granddaughters. They have been homeschooling for 18 years.


Hey Mama,

How come you keep muttering that stuff under your breath lately? What's this "Epic Mama Fail" you have been whispering? You're not a failure. Perish the thought. Get rid of it. 

Yeah, we all blow it. There are days we act really dumb (we fail!), and there are times we wish we could just rewind the clock backwards (20 years?) and start again. Kicking ourselves when we're already down isn't the answer, though. 

Do you kick your 2-year-old when he falls down? Do you hammer down your 8-year-old when she makes a mistake? Do you hate on your teen when he blows it? Of course not!

How come you treat your own failures worse than you would an old, unwanted dog? Quit kicking. Stop slicing and dicing yourself up over your imperfections. Only the Lord is perfect.

Daughter of the King: No more forgetting who you are in Christ. No, you are not perfect. No, you don't cross every "t" or meticulously dot every "i." But you are His. And He has called you to this great task of loving and caring for your beautiful family. So take joy in that, Mama. You. Are. His.

Your kids are watching, btw. Surely you want them to learn from their mistakes but then carry on happily when they mess up as grown-ups, right? Or should we teach them by example that really they should kick themselves at every small failure? They should tear themselves up and mutter, "Epic Mama fail," every day. Right? 

No. We would never hope for such a thing. We would hope they could go a little easier on themselves than that. We would be telling them in a heartbeat what their value actually istheir identity is in CHRIST. And that is a lovely thing. It covers so much.

You, too, Beautiful Mama. You have value, too. Keep walking. When you blow it, get back up; dust yourself off, and look up at your Savior. Eyes on Christ. He loves you.





Struggling with a challenging child? Kenson Kids' On Track! Responsibility and Behavioral System can help! 

Incorporates Daily Responsibilities and Problem Behaviors! Teaches Accountability, Money-management, and more!


Raising Real Men    

Many years ago, we found Dr. James Dobson’s book, The Strong-Willed Child. “Why are you reading that? Do you have any?” a friend asked. “HA!” we said. “Ours don’t seem to come any other way!” 

Every child is a challenge of his own. Some are the classic “strong-willed” children who are always testing the boundaries; others are quieter about it, but still stubborn. Many, though, are simply . . . well, children. The great adventure of parenthood is learning how to relate to each individual God sends to our family. 

Each of these kids is a gift from God (Psalm 127:3)yes, even that kid—that was given specifically to you, to be raised in your family, even in your situation and circumstance. It’s hard when you feel like a failure as a parent and teacher, but God has purpose in this. Don’t quit.

PRAY. A LOT. God gave you the challenging child, and He will give grace for you to be that parent. 

Love them like Jesus loves us all. God knows us inside and out, and He loves His children in spite of themselves. Your kids aren’t perfect, and that will try your patience and confidence, but they are still your children. Remember first and foremost, they’re a gift from God to you. So, work with that. 

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Look for advisors—a more experienced parent, a homeschool mom who’s dealt with a particular issue, a pastor or teacher who can encourage you with Scriptural wisdom. There are so many support networks available, you should be able to find someone who understands and can point you to resources that will help.


Relationship is critical. Your children are not clones of you or your mate, or of anybody else. Always work on strengthening the relationship, even if it seems like an inconvenience at the time. It’s tough when a child is being difficult. Praise anything you can; listen a lot; show your love. We’ve got a podcast that talks about how to improve your relationship with your kids. You can listen to it here.

When you have a good relationship with your child, it helps you get to the root of why they are being so difficult right now. It’ll help you figure out if they’re rebelling against you or just struggling with the changes of puberty. You’ll be able to discern if you just need to be stricter or if, instead, you need to change up your curriculum to make school more enjoyable. Work on relationship. It takes a lot of time. It’s not easy. It’s the best way to parent a difficult child, though.

Your friends,

Hal & Melanie



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in the latest issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.

As homeschoolers, there are so many skills we teach our children, but none is more important than how to read. The ability to read and do it well often determines how your child will progress through his education. Reading for most children is not a challenge. Then at times, there are children who experience reading difficulty due to struggles with conditions like dyslexia or are just new readers who have difficulty with learning how to put the patterns of language together as rapidly as the average reader.

Author Sarah K. Blodgett was one of those parents who watched her own child struggle with reading. If you have ever been in that position, you understand the helplessness that may ensue. Rather than give up, Blodgett relied on her background in research. The result is Noah Text, which is one of those, “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” ideas.

The concept behind Noah Text is quite simple. Noting the complexity of the English language, Blodgett focuses on the “code” or patterns used in teaching reading. The recognition of syllables and vowel sounds in words is further defined by highlighting and bolding those areas in the sentences students read. Learning the language patterns of words is easier with visual reminders as students move through the words in each sentence. Students navigate through text that notes the patterns in the words, which helps them improve their reading fluency and comprehension.

Blodgett has created three reading levels for Noah Text. This is an example of one of them:

Using all three levels of text presentation, Blodgett has written a chapter book series, The Mystical Years of Franklin Noah Peterson, which includes three volumes. Blodgett uses the same specific text in all three volumes of each level of the books in the series. It is that consistency that helps build a level of comfort in the struggling reader. As the student grows in his confidence with reading, the Noah Text graduates with him allowing the student to move from the visual support to eventually reading plain text without the coding of the words. Whether the student needs to rely on the Noah Text patterns throughout all three books in the series, he will still be able to feel a sense of accomplishment as he turns and reads the last page of the chapter book. (. . .)

(Read the rest of the review.)

YOU can WIN this nine-book set for your homeschool!

TO ENTER: Email Kathleen with your name, mailing address, and phone number for contact purposes, with the subject line, “Noah Text” for a chance to win* it for your family! 

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2017 Summer PRINT issue 

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