Sandra Dodd

I just discovered several pending comments at Just Add Light and Stir.  I approved some, trashed the spam, and am bringing this one here.   It's too much to discuss there, and the author is a member of Always Learning.

Sandra, I love your writing. I am a fledgling unschooler with three children. I think I need to deschool myself further. My oldest son wants to do many projects that are quite massive undertakings, and expensive, such as building boats, shelves, and such. What do you do when your child stresses you out?? I hate feeling that way, I want to say yes to everything they want to do (I have two other children, the second oldest is also a boy.) But we have very limited resources and I feel horrible always having to tell him no or offer alternatives that he rejects. I'm exhausted! How did you manage to create healthy boundaries and maintain your sanity?? Everything you share about your family is so positive and that makes me hopeful but also doubtful that I am doing it right. 
Help, rather stressed, 
Emily Ruegg on Doing enough?

It would have been a comment on this: 

which linked to 

I know this has been discussed before, and if someone could bring a link that would be wonderful.


Sandra Dodd

-=- I want to say yes to everything they want to do-=-

Only want to say yes to things you can provide or coach on or that you're pretty sure are doable.

If you said yes about everything, they would soon lose faith in you.
Can we go to Disneyworld soon? 
Can we go mountain climbing?
Can I take pilots lessons? 
Can we get a monkey?

Lots of questions need to be "That won't work, but..."

One way to help a frustrated young boy is to bring up an impossibility like an Ironman suit or a moon-landing for kids.  Let him help you figure out why some things are fiction (or took a LOT of government funding and tons of scientists), and maybe move toward drawing them, writing about them, painting them, making models and photographing them for stories.  Watch movies about the things he's wanting to do or see or be, so that the topic is still there, and maybe talk about how the props were made, or what part is plausible and what is not.

Maybe look at YouTube videos about boats. Ask a librarian for help finding books with images of how boats were built in times gone past.  Maybe visit maritime museums, or boats or ships that be toured.

Move toward his interests without making promises you can't keep.

His faith in you is more important than trying to build a boat.

Cardboard boxes could be stacked and fastened together with brads or something to make shelves, maybe. 

-=-Everything you share about your family is so positive and that makes me hopeful but also doubtful that I am doing it right. -=-

There's not an "it," though.  There's you becoming more confident in their learning.

I'm sorry I didn't see the question sooner.  



Our 12 year old is a burgeoning duct tape engineer. Even a big roll is cheap and your son might have fun figuring out ways to design and build boats of various sizes (start small?) that he can launch in the tub or a stream, if you have one nearby. Maybe you could use cereal boxes and straws to make the frame, or perhaps other cheap materials you find at a craft store.

Our youngest (the 12 yo) is very like your oldest. His ideas are quite often too big to realistically manage, and it can be a challenge to find alternatives that interest, rather than frustrate, him. Two weeks ago he received an ALS ice bucket challenge and immediately started planning a video that would have required a lot of money in materials and tools as well as a lot of engineering and construction experience (essentially it was to be a giant Rube Goldberg machine that would end by dumping ice water on his head). Talking him down to a manageable project was not a smooth or easy process - it usually isn't with him. I've stopped expecting it to be, which helps me stay in the moment and not react to his reactions. In this case, since I know that making videos is his passion and he knows how to use iMovie to good effect, I was able to come up with an idea that hinged on editing, and it grabbed his imagination. He ran with it and made a very cool video, not typical of most out there. He was eager, happy, and satisfied by the end of it.