Monday, January 5, 2015

How I Became a More Confident Homeschooling Mom

Confidence was never my thing. Confident people always astonished me. Watching people take charge with an assertive attitude and self-assurance in their abilities left me with a sense that I had witnessed an anomaly because it was so far out of the ordinary for me. Most of my life I walked the safe path and let other people lead.

When I pulled my oldest child out of school to homeschool him was the only occasion in my life when I was the one surprising people. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision, but it was a bit out of character for me, the girl with low self-esteem. 

It took many, many months of praying, reading, and discussions with Chris to finally leap. I was able to do it because I had Chris's support, but also because I knew with every fiber of my being that it was what God wanted me to do. So I did it because I knew He had called me to it and would continue to give me the grace I needed to get through the hard times.

And believe me, there were hard times. Days when I felt tired, and frustrated, and incapable.

Several years ago I wrote a post on what the boys and I do when we have had a rough day or two. But I needed to do something about the periods of time when the boys were fine, but I was not. So I made a few attitude changes to reassure myself that I was capable of educating my children. They didn't work overnight, but over time my new rules for myself helped me to become a more confident person. Now there are days when I surprise myself with my assertiveness.

Does your story sound at all like mine? Do you lack confidence in your ability to teach your children? Are you interested in the behavior changes that helped me to become more confident? 

Here is my list.

1. Use prayer and positive phrases to combat self-sabotage and negative thinking and overcome feelings of incompetence, frustration, and impatience.

Praying with positive phrases sounds so easy,  but when emotions are high, it is not. 

Maybe you have been praying every day, and you still feel like you are not good enough to teach your children. Well, I was the same way. Here is an example of how I would originally pray when I was feeling like I wasn't doing a good enough job: 

Dear Lord, I just can not keep going on like this. I feel like I am not doing a good job. I am frustrated, tired, and worried that I am not doing enough. Are you sure this is what I am supposed to be doing with my life? I am thankful for my boys. I love them, and I want to do what is best for them. Please, give me your grace to continue on this path if it is your will. I need your help. In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen. 

It was an honest prayer, but it was a defeated prayer, too. I needed a new prayer that spilled over with positivity, so I turned to God's word. Here is an example prayer with scripture references: 

Here I am, your servant, Lord! (Galatians 1:10) You said your grace is sufficient, and your power is made perfect in weakness. I am happy, Lord. Mishaps, hardships, and insults do not bother me because I know that Christ strengthens in me when such things try to weaken me. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) I am filled with your Spirit. (Acts 2:4) I show my family love, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, and gentleness. I have peace and joy. I am patient and self-controlled. (Galatians 5:22-23) I am not weary of my tasks. I will not give up because I know my reward will be great when the schooling is done. I thank you for the opportunity to serve my family through teaching. (Galatians 6:9-10) I can do it because you give me strength. (Philippians 4:13) In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen. 

Can you see the difference? Praying the above prayer makes me instantly feel better, capable of getting the job done!

2. Never put yourself down to others. 

Confident people don't spend a lot of time criticizing themselves. They are confident enough to take on a task even if it is risky. And if they should make a mistake, they admit it and learn from it.They do not hide it, are usually not embarrassed by it and don't deflect responsibility. And they aren't full of excuses. 

If other people, even loved ones, question your decision to teach your children at home, but you feel that it is what you are supposed to do then you do not have to make excuses. And you do not have to argue your reasons. Respond with a firm but friendly, "Homeschooling is the best decision for our family at this time" and walk away with your head held high. 

3. Don't downplay your accomplishments. 

Confident people graciously accept compliments, and they usually don't act surprised when they get a compliment. They know they are doing a good job. They don't need compliments, but they are thankful when someone expresses appreciation for their talents. 

When someone says to you, "You must be a great teacher since your child got first place in the state essay contest about wildlife conservation," you should happily respond "Thank you." Even if last week you argued over a book report, forgot to give a grammar test, and ruined a science project. Those mishaps do not negate the fact that you are an excellent teacher to your child. 

4. Set goals, achieve them, and then pat yourself on the back! 

Confident people aren't afraid of stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new things. 

When people feel low and uncertain of their abilities, they don't take chances. They spend their time doing safe things like watching TV or escaping into books. Television and books are fine hobbies, but they aren't confidence builders. Only by completing a goal that pushes us outside of our comfort zone do we grow in confidence. 

I am not talking about homeschool goals here. I am talking about personal goals. You have to do things for yourself so that you continue to learn and expand your skills. 

For years, I wanted to learn how to knit, but I always told myself that I could not do it because it was probably too difficult for me (self-sabotage). One day I finally stopped the negative talk and set out to teach myself how to knit. I learned and have been knitting for four years now and have knit many beautiful things. Not only did I gain an enjoyable, relaxing hobby, but I also gained confidence in my ability to teach myself new things. Since learning how to knit, I have taught myself how to create jewelry and to sew embroidery. Currently, I am teaching myself how to use a sewing machine. When I complete a new craft project, I do not tear it apart. It may not be perfect, but I don't let the imperfections blind me to how lovely it is. I always feel good about finishing a project, and you should, too.

One story that combines #1 and #4 is the story of how I became a runner. I had been a great walker for many years, but I always wanted to run. Again I used self-defeating talk to keep me from trying. Then a friend encouraged me to take up running, so I started running with her. It was great to support each other as we turned our walking into running, but because of our busy schedules, we had to stop meeting. I kept running, but it was hard to stay motivated, and the negative talk returned. One day I decided enough was enough, and I started repeating the same phrases over and again while I ran around my neighborhood. Here is what I told myself, "I am a runner. Running is what I do. I am strong, and I can go the distance. I love to run." Repeating the positive phrases helped me become who I wanted to be (a runner). 

Prayer, plus positive thinking and talking helped me to achieve new goals. With each accomplishment, my confidence grew in all areas of my life, including in my teaching abilities. 

I hope my list helps you because there is nothing I want more for you than to believe in yourself and know that you are capable. You can teach your children at home. God has made you strong and able. His grace overflows for you. 


  1. Hi Erica! I've visited here before, but today I providentially clicked my way over here from the CWBN facebook page :) This is a wonderful list and so timely for me! I definitely needed to be reminded of all of these but especially 2 and 3. I'm sharing it on my blog facebook page! Thank for sharing these tips and part of your story, Erica, and Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Theresa! Thank you! I am glad that you found the list useful. Thanks for sharing it on your facebook page. I really appreciate that! Happy new year!

  2. These are great tips and I think they are so applicable to all areas of motherhood not just homeschooling!

  3. Such wonderful advice, Erica! Thank you for sharing such inspiring thoughts! I love how you gave concrete examples, like with running and knitting. Maybe I should try learning to knit again.

    1. Rita, you should try learning to knit again. I just love it!

  4. I especially love your story about becoming a runner!

  5. This post was so inspiring for me! I am so happy with our decision to homeschool but I have wrestled with being confident when I run into or see people in our local, Catholic community. There are many things I need and should teach myself, self-sabotage comes easily for me :) Thanks for sharing, this gave me the boost I needed!

    1. No more self-sabotage, Christina! You are quite capable of teaching your children. :)

  6. Okay, blogger ate my phone comment so I'm back ;) Loved this post, Erica! I haven't started homeschooling yet (my oldest is 3.5) but already I feel all the pressures for how he should be writing his name, on his way to reading, sight words, etc. It makes me anxious and already feel insecure! I'm bookmarking this post for the hard days! I love your prayer with scripture! So beautiful! and all your tips. Thank you!

    1. Oh Amanda, your little guy has so much time to learn ahead of him. Take it slow. It is okay to let him set the pace for now. He does not need to be reading yet; you have time. I know some little guys do read real young, but trying to teach them too young can be more stressful than it needs to be. I didn't even try to start teaching my boys to read until they were five and six years old, and they love to read now. Have you listened to any talks by Andrew Pudewa? He has one specifically about teaching boys. You can find it free here


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