work hard
be vigilant
push through
go into the fray
just for one moment

If it IS "a battle," there will be a loser. If your child is a loser when he does what you want, it will only get worse as years go by.

Negative Approaches to Peace

Don't "tackle your fears."
Breathe through them. Untangle them, gradually, and lay them out to dry.

Antagonism between you and your own thoughts is too much antagonism. 🙂

(original, at Radical Unschooling Info)

Someone wrote:
"I honestly think IF mom can push through the negativity and get to the other side sooner than later, keeping her kids home could be a wonderful experience for all."

I asked:
Is "push through" the best verb for that?

In the first Harry Potter book, Harry, Ron and Hermione fall through a trap door into vines called Devil's Snare. It grabs them and the boys are thrashing and fighting it. They're trying to push through.

Hermione tells them if they will relax, it will let go.

In the case of anything stressful or negative, I think relaxing is the best first move.

Often when people write that they are "battling depression," I point that out. Or "I am fighting my children over..." or "I struggle to understand..." something.

They need to STOP battling, STOP fighting, STOP struggling. Perhaps pushing through isn't the best move.

SandraDodd.com/joy (Rejecting a Pre-Packaged Life)

Some of that article:

Perhaps happiness shouldn't be the primary goal. Try joy. Try the idea that it might be enJOYable to cook, to set the table, to see your family, rather than the idea that you'll be happy after dinner's done and cleaned up. My guess is that such happiness might last a couple of seconds before you look around and see something else between you and happiness. Joy, though, can be ongoing, and can be felt before, during and after the meeting of goals.

Enjoyment—that word itself is hardly used. Enjoyment is seen nearly as a sin for some people. "You're not here to have fun, you're here to work." Why can't work bring joy? Any tiny moment can be enjoyed: the feel of warm running water when you wash your hands; light and shadow on the floor; pictures in the clouds; the feel of an old book. If you see an old friend that can bring pure, tingly joy for which there are no words.

If you practice noticing and experiencing joy, if you take a second out of each hour to find joy, your life improves with each remembrance of your new primary goal. You don't need someone else to give you permission, or to decide whether or not what you thought gave you joy was an acceptable source of enjoyment.

I'm not interested in helping people battle or fight or struggle. I want to help them find joy, gratitude, abundance and peace.

Fighting a lack of peace isn't creating more peace.

—Sandra Dodd

Leah Rose:
Sandra wrote: "They need to STOP battling, STOP fighting, STOP struggling."

This has been such an incredibly powerful, empowering concept for me. It's a total turn around from the way I grew up thinking, from the way we think and speak in Western culture. But I have made the greatest strides in my own deschooling by learning to notice when I feel myself "struggling," and to Stop! Then I can choose to let go, to relax about the disparity between what I want and what is. And what I have discovered is that that conscious mental shift releases the energy I need to step forward mindfully into the moment...and then that moment becomes, itself, a step towards what I want, away from what I don't want.

—Leah Rose

Once a mom wrote:

"I would love some input from other parents who have a child battling anxiety ..."
I responded:
Don't see him as "battling anxiety." If you see this as an evil to be overcome, instead of a reality to be accepted gently and peacefully, you won't move toward more peace.
That, and more about anxiety

"...how do you conquer constant complaining in your kids?"

This is added in 2022. "Conquer" was not on the list before.

Meredith Novak responded first, when this question was asked:

By shifting my perspective and expectations.

"Conquer constant complaining" makes for some fun alliteration, but its not a particularly helpful viewpoint to have of someone who shares your life. Try looking at all the same situations from the kids' perspectives - really from their side, not just from an idealized adult image of what a perfect child should think. How would you feel if someone you loved described you as "constantly complaining"? How would it feel to learn that someone wanted to "conquer" you? Ouch.

(original, Meredith)
Schuyler Waynforth addressed the "constant" image/claim:
Is it actually constant complaining? Constant is 24 hours 7 days a week. You say they are happy and energetic until you "ask" them to do anything around the house. It seems a pretty clear message to me that they are happy and energetic until they see you passing out the chores. How are you approaching them to ask for help?
(longer original)
By the time I got there, others had helped already, so I just got to polish up:

Sandra Dodd:

My question to you, as an experienced unschooler, is, how do you conquer constant complaining in your kids?"
I'm glad lots of people have already responded.

What jumped out at me about that question was "conquer."
It's an adversarial word.

One thing that made unschooling easy for us was that from the time Kirby was a baby and we went to La Leche League, I had been given the gift of the idea that parent and child should be partners, and not adversaries.

If you can start dismantling all the adversarial parts of your relationships, there won't be things to complain about. Neither you nor your children will be complaining.

The post that seemed on the surface to be about kids who complain was, overall, a mom complaining about her kids.
I hope it's not constant. 🙂

(Sandra Dodd, in a longer post you can find by going to Meredith's or Schuyler's links above and reading down a bit)

In a public post on her page, Jen Keefe was writing about the problems with diets, and encouraging people to be calmly accepting. Part of what she wrote was this:

Eating an apple instead of a cookie is not morally superior. Its not a better choice. From what I'm learning, because of everything that comes with it, it's mostly not even a healthier choice.

Eating carrots and hummus instead of French fries and ketchup is not "good". Eating potato chips instead of kale chips is not "bad".

These two responses came, among others, but they were right in a row:
I so struggle with this ... and The ongoing battle.
I wrote:
"Struggle" and "battle" aren't morally superior to "relax" and "let it go."

They are not healthier. 🙂

I love Jen's response:
Sandra- When I first read words like this (likely written by you but I can't remember how long ago) I don't remember if they clicked quickly or if took a long time for me to even make sense of them- to be able to even understand what they meant.

It's a gift, though- starting to understand this. I hadn't realized that I grew up in a culture where the more you struggled the higher your worth and the more you belonged. It's not because anyone in my life was a jerk or anything. It's just how it was. My family is strong Irish Catholic.

Because of the learning I've been doing about food and moral superiority I was able to read your comment with a new, better understanding...and whew. It was another whole level of exhaling and gratitude.

It's so much better to opt out of struggling and battling. It's just better. Everything is brighter and happier. Not less intelligent. Not less realistic. It's still intelligent, observant, and thoughtful.

I added that because I think I used to associate this idea with rose colored glasses, or simple, and others might too.

Thanks for sharing.

On Jen's facebook page, October 2019

June 2018, a mom wrote for a public group that fear was assaulting her. In a conversation on the side, she used the term again: "sometimes fear assaults me."

I responded:

Fear doesn't hit you with a stick in a dark alley.
Don't use the word "assaults."
It's too dramatic and it makes you a victim.
An additional problem, though, is that it also treats "fear" as something outside herself, that comes toward her and assaults her when she least expects it.

Maybe ALL the negative words are doing that—personifying, or anthropomorphizing, an emotion as an external enemy. So some would say "it's just semantics," but it's a map of one's emotions that ranges outside the body and builds bad guys, I'm thinking.

"Just semantics" is a big problem

All in one message, in a discussion, someone used:

-emotions and anxiety
- I just have to share what an internal battle this is
- Like I said it is definitely an internal battle
- I have been struggling soooo much
I responded:
You can't build an unschooling nest out of that.

Somewhere between your schedule and all-out unschooling is a place you ought to aim for right now.

Deschool, consciously. Stop struggling. Stop telling people ("I have to share" and "like I said") that you have an internal battle. Stop having an internal battle.

Without peace, unschooling won't happen.

You're antagonistic with your own self. You want to rebel against your own self. Which side of you would partner with your child? They can't partner with a battle.

Words create mood. Words can BE negativity.

[Someone wrote on the facebook group:]

"I have hit a wall recently with my own anger and expectations and this is really where I need the solution."
I responded:
"Hit a wall" is a violent image, and unnecessary. (and linked to this page, /battle)

Creating walls, hitting, anger and needs with words will wind your emotions up and make you feel trapped and whiney.

Most of the links above lead to placid, healthy, happy things. Sort through your choices so you can begin (and continue) to think and choose and feel the differences.

(The link quit working, and I couldn't find the original, in 2021; sorry.)

Candid examples pulled from public places:

I hit a wall on Monday. Post surgery depression has hit with a vengeance. Lots of tears, pain is back up and feeling like I'll never get fully well. Trying to fight through it. (March 2017 fb)

I am struggling to find that peace, that calm ... (July 2016, yahoogroup discussion)

Mom has a hard time not thinking that her way is the best way. Trust me, we've fought this battle many, many times before. (December 2015, yahoogroup discussion)

sometimes she loved it, other times it was an uphill battle (February 2014, yahoogroup discussion)

I'm a non-breather. 🙂 I have a bad temper, I don't mean to, it's been a really all my life struggle (March 2010, in an unschooling chat on breathing)

Relax now

It will be challenging as long as one is struggling.
It will stop being so challenging as soon as one relaxes.

photo by Sandra Dodd

A family was talking about not giving many Christmas gifts and an unschooling mom wrote:

Sometimes I don't have the energy to put forth my own ideas on abundance, and sometimes I do anyway, but they look at me like I'm crazy. Do you bite your tongue or go into the fray with your beliefs?
I responded:
Maybe neither.
Don't think of it as "a fray" (and don't MAKE it a fray by going in with counter-insurgence ideas. 🙂 )

It might be useful to just say "That's not as Christmassy as it could be." Something a bit cryptic but true that isn't antagonistic or challenging, but a simple statement that they might be near, but off, a better spot. That way you said something, but didn't challenge them to throw down.

Someone on the facebook group, January 2015:

-=-i really have to be vigilant on myself and try not to control.-=-
Don't use "have to." If it's not true, but you write it and share it, that means you thought it. When you hear "have to" in your head, rephrase.

No one will make you. You Do NOT "have to." You can control all you want to. (How much do you WANT to?)

photo (a link) by Charles Lagacé, in Nunavut

Being "vigilant" sounds like absolutely exhausting effort. Relax. You do not "have to be vigilant." Especially not on yourself. That's you watching yourself. Way too much work. Let go of one of those selves. Relax inside the other one. Have a snooze. Don't be vigilant.

When you wake up, think. Am I glad to be here? Is this a good moment? If so, breathe and smile and touch your child gently. Be soft. Be grateful. Find abundance. Gently.

You don't need to control yourself to keep yourself from being controlling. 🙂
Make generous, kind choices, over and over, as often as you can.

Someone wrote: "this thread forced me to realize..."

I responded:

Nothing should be forced. If you can think that it inspired you to see... (those things) or "this thread helped me to realize..." then your life will have inspiration and help, instead of "force."

It might seem like it doesn't matter, but it will build up. "Force" is stress—literally/physically and also emotionally.


-=-I think I have been wrestling with-=-
Such hard work. So dangerous and physical. Sounds like it was all wrestling back.
Longer version of someone's:
-=-I think I have been wrestling with the amount I have been giving to the kids and trying find a way to know when I need to take a moment (or more) to refuel. -=-
Thinking of it as "refueling" creates a false model. It's likely that you can find ways to renew, recharge, or calm yourself as the day goes on. Don't think of your children as a drain, and as something else as "refuel"

I am torn between...

A man who wasn't married yet and planned to have children someday (he was engaged) wrote to me wanting me to answer all the questions he had after he found some info on my site that disturbed him.

Twice he wrote "I am torn..." I didn't tear him. He was only tearing himself, dramatically, without realizing it. Or he was (as I mentioned in our exchange) using other people's words rather than his own (though I didn't mention 'torn,' as I didn't have this collection yet).

#1, "I'm torn between wanting to protect my children from unpleasant experiences and simply accepting the fact that sometimes you have to work hard at 'unpleasant' tasks to be successful."

#2, "I'm torn between wanting to keep my children happy and simply accepting that hard work builds character and is an inevitable fact of life."

He was already shaming himself and his unborn child(ren).

That exchange is here: SandraDodd.com/skepticism

Softer words

Some parents express their learning as "struggle" or "challenge," but those words are antagonistic. Try to relax, and try not to feel that you're wrestling (with your child's desires, or with your own thoughts). If you can find softer words, you will experience softer emotions.

photo by Sandra Dodd, of a flowering plant
growing out of a rain spout
on a castle

Partnership replacing battles

In a discussion years back, long before this page existed...


We've tried explaining the reasons why we need to go and even encourage him to finish whatever he is doing at the time because I know sometimes I want to finish things before we take off and go somewhere. The battles get very frustrating for my husband and I and I'm not really sure how to approach it.
If he had enough notice and reminders, he shouldn't need to be finishing things last minute. Lure him away with food when it's half an hour before, or with other needs (come get your clean laundry; feed the cats; please help me load the car...). If you break up that transition rather than just having the sharp demarcation between what HE wanted and what YOU wanted, it shouldn't be "a battle."

If it IS "a battle," there will be a loser. If he's a loser when he does what you want, it will only get worse as years go by.

If you see yourselves as his partner, you shouldn't have a battle. You want him to be happier with the transitions, so figure out how to make them non-battle-like.

That's from Eye contact, and getting kids out of the house, which goes off topic soon after that.

The intentional spread of negativity

Avoid this!

On facebook, March 2017—"art" encouraging people to feel beset and besieged was sent with this note:

You are a chronic pain warrior! Cry, scream, let it all out!!! You can do this, cause you are that strong! A big hug! xx

The response was "Yep that's so true at the moment. Thanks for the thoughtful post xxxx"

It doesn't seem thoughtful to me. It seems literally painful—full of pain.

In print, use of the term "battling" has increased at this rate,since 1800. In casual speech and in discussions online, I'm sure it's much more. Too much "battling." We can more peace, for ourselves and our families and friends.

Stop Struggling


Negativity (avoidance of)

Mental Health ideas for unschoolers

The title was generated for free at cooltext.com, and I lifted the divider line by cropping from the title art.

The title art ended up being too wide, after a few years, so is retired.

This page was created in 2015, and here's the earliest version, from June 13, 2015