Anne Ohman and Anna Brown join me to answer listener questions. This month we answer questions about radical validation—and what’s so radical about it, sibling conflicts, unhappy temperaments, and how the three of us have worked through challenges to get to epiphanies and personal growth.
Click here to submit your own question to the Q&A Round Table!
Heather’s Question (from Arizona) [TIME: 1:40]
I am SO blown away by Anne’s article about Radical Validation! Especially this paragraph, “When we try to get them out of and away from the uncomfortable feelings because we don’t know how to help them (and just want them to be happy), they just go further into those emotions to protect their right to feel that way. But now they have yet another new level added to their already existing discomfort…”
We have been struggling with how to help a situation in our home for a while. Our 10yo daughter constantly criticizes and belittles her 12yo brother. The only way we know to deal with this (because it is heartbreaking to see how hurt our son is by her comments and treatment) is to remind her to, “Please treat him as kind as you’d want to be treated”. I realize that has so much weight and isn’t the ideal way to handle it. We’d love some further detailed ideas on the best way to validate.
Mikael’s Question (from France) [TIME: 18:30]
Thank you for your kind help to all unschoolers and their parents! You are wonderful!
I have a question concerning my son who is almost 7. He has a temperament that makes him being unhappy almost all the time. He complains very often and for very small things. I have already understood that he is a hyper-sensitive person. My wife and I are doing our best to make him happy but still sometimes it is very difficult. What would you advise us to do to make things better?
Carol’s Question (from Montana) [TIME: 30:05]
I’d like to hear from you lovely ladies about your journey through unschooling. Specifically, when you felt uncertain about something that was happening with your child, how you dealt with it, and how it was later resolved. For instance, were you ever at a place where you were thinking you would like to see your child get more exercise, spend less time doing one particular thing, be more open to new experiences, etc.? How did you get through whatever the issue was for you? I love to hear from veteran moms about their reality with unschooling, especially their stories of conflict to resolution. So, I’m not asking about a specific question or concern of my own, but for you to tell your stories of epiphany and growth, and contrasting the way things were then with the way things are now.
Meredith’s Question (from Virginia) [TIME: 39:22]
My husband and I have homeschooled our two girls, ages 8 and 6, since the Fall of 2016. We LOVE it. I can safely say that bringing my girls home to learn has made me fall in love with them all over again. They are special, special people with immense gifts to share with the world.
After one year of homeschooling things were becoming even more clear about the best way for our girls to learn the important things in life. Unschooling was a concept I found that just plain made sense! Ever since then we have unschooled, or to us, just lived!
I have many questions but the biggest one and the one I will ask today is about sibling relationships. My two girls are just shy of two years apart. Lately they have begun a phase in life where they bicker and fuss with each other all the time. Or at least that is how it feels to me who is with them 24/7. To be blunt, it can drive me batty!
My oldest is craving independence and wanting more space to herself. My youngest just wants to do everything with her older sister. Both are very different in personality. My husband and I have tried to do more things with them separately but it seems like a drop in the bucket. We do not live near family who can take one child for the morning or day so the girls can have breathing room. We have wonderful friends but all have different circumstances that would prevent them from helping in this way too. We are a one income family and so signing up for activities is limited. Plus, it seems unfair to me if I let my oldest take an art class and tell my youngest, who loves art just as much, that she can’t take it because her sister needs space. Am I thinking about this in the wrong way?
Then there is the actual fussing. They are not physical with each other, but are in the throes of retaliation. Tit for tat. One does something so the other does something back. For example, one girl feels the other hid her shoe (which in reality is stuffed under her bed) and so purposely takes the last remains of her sister’s favorite cereal, which she has had no interest in before this point. The other sister sees this injustice, gets mad, lets it be known she is mad and then refuses to let her sister have a bite of her ice cream later in the day, etc. It can go on and on. When we are home I can take each aside and talk with them about what is bothering them, validate their feelings and come up with a solution. This process takes a while, which I am happy to do, however it can be mere minutes after the first argument is settled when a new one erupts. The process starts all over again! Some days it seems that is all that happens. I’m not going to lie, trying to handle this in a non-yelling, respectful way leaves me exhausted!! Some days I just want to curl back up in my bed and hide under the covers. Any suggestions for this phase in their lives? And please confirm, this is just a phase, right?? Thanks for everything.
Links to things mentioned in the show
Anne’s article about radical validation
Pam’s articles, Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Video Games and “I Can Read, You Know!”
Pam’s posts, The Road of Trials: The Heart of Deschooling (outlining quite a few of my epiphanies) and moving through uncomfortable times by looking to my children
Pam’s talk, A Family of Individuals
Anne’s website: shinewithunschooling.com
Anna’s website: choosingconnection.com