Fifteen years old Tobi is your regular adolescent. He and his friends had a plan to go see the movies as a way to chill out on Independence Day. They had it all figured out- the cinema, meet-up time, dress code down to the specific movie to watch. Unfortunately, Tobi’s parents had another plan for the day…
Growing up is full of frustrating moments. As young children explore their world, they are faced with many challenges. There are numerous things they simply can’t reach, can’t buckle, and can’t climb on their own. From the child’s point of view, parents and other adults are always saying “No” to activities and objects he wants!
Parents have the opportunity to help their child learn how to recognize, understand and find solutions to his frustrations. This is an all too important life skill especially in the fast pace world of today. Children need to learn from an early age, how to deal with this common experience.
Frustration is a common emotion in young children and typically begins as a child begins to discover the many things he would like to do, but simply cannot do yet. Frustration is a natural and healthy emotion and can provide a positive learning experience for a child. The feelings of frustration that occur when your child has difficulty communicating his needs or tying his shoe laces are his cue that he needs to try to do something in a different way or that what he is doing is not working.
You can teach your child how to deal with frustration in a way that is useful for him. Most important, you must respond to frustration when it first arises before it changes into anger or becomes the dreaded temper tantrum or the goal of inadequacy or a power struggle.
Two skills children must learn in order to deal with frustration are one, how to ask for help and two, know when to take a break.
Notice when you, your child or others are frustrated. Explain that everyone, including adults, feel frustration. When you feel frustrated, you might say: ‘’Iam frustrated. I have tried three times to fix the blender and it is just not working! I am going to take a break. I will come back and try when I am feeling calmer.” When you notice your child feeling frustrated, model to him how to label his feelings.
You may say to him, ‘’you are so frustrated! I see that you have been trying to build that tower and it keeps falling down! Let’s have a snack, play a game (or any other kind of break) and then try again together”.
Point out frustration circumstances to him: “that little boy looks frustrated. He can’t climb up the ladder on his own. I wonder if he needs some help.”
Teach your child appropriate ways to respond to frustration. You might say to your child: you can ask Daddy. Say, ‘Help please!’
Knowing when to take a break is a skill you need to intentionally teach your child. You can say, “I see you are frustrated. Let’s take a break. First, let’s do five jumping jacks and get some water. Then we can come back and try again!
Puppets and toys are great tools for role playing situations that your child may be struggling with, such as trying to accomplish a task: “Wow, this train can’t get up the hill. He has tried four times and keeps rolling back down. He looks like he wants to cry. I wonder what he can do.’’
School is an opportunity for children to explore new concepts and try new skills. As a child attempts to become more independent, she often feels frustrated when she is not able to complete a task by herself. A teacher can help a child identify when she is feeling frustrated and prompt her to ask for help, try a new solution or take a break. “You have been working so hard to fit that piece in the puzzle. You sound frustrated. Would you like some help?” As the child learns new skills to manage frustrating feelings, she will become more confident in her abilities, and eager to attempt new activities.
Tobi’s parents had promised grandma that they were coming over for a mini family reunion over the independence holiday. This plan frustrated Tobi. Had as he tried to convince his parents or negotiate just one day of the long holiday to spend with his friends, it was a no-no. The negotiation should have come before the commitment to his friends, his dad chipped in with all finality.
Each time your child is able to workthrough a frustration, he is adding a very important skill he needs to be happy and successful in the world. Children who learn this skill are less likely to exhibit challenging behaviour and are better able to navigate life’s ups and downs with confidence.
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