The strong emotion of frustration in your child

The strong emotion of frustration in your child

Does your child get frustrated easily?  Is there throwing of objects, tantrums, crying, or “I can’t do it talk.”  The question becomes, how I can help my child work through frustrating events.  Unfortunately, the world is full of tasks and activities that can cause frustration. 

This topic occurred to me this morning as my daughter opened her St. Nick gift of craft rubber-band bracelets.  She was so excited to get started on the craft project as she has been asking no begging for a kit to make rubber-band bracelets.  Within seconds she became so frustrated that the project was thrown on the table followed by the yelling of I can’t do it, mom can you do it?

Although the easiest solution would be to complete the task for her; it would not help her with the skill of coping and processing the strong emotion of frustration.  I decided that I wasn’t going to let her quit. I reminder her gently how she was so excited about this gift.  I taught her the technique several times after she calmed down and continued to encourage her to complete the task.  Upon her initiating and completing one round of pattern for this rubber band bracelet confidence was built.  It wasn’t long until her confidence gained and her speed picked up and guess what – you guessed it, she made a mistake and frustration followed by slamming the bracelet onto the table and stating, “I can’t do this.”  “I’m no good at this.”  

Now, this might have been a time to call it quits However, even if we get good at something we can still make mistakes.

Encouragement to try again, slow down and focus on the task as a gentle reminder is a good way to help your child preserve through a situation or in this case making a rubber band bracelet.

As parents it is important for us to be a role model during times our child is frustrated.  Here are some tips to help our child build resilience from frustrating events.

  1. Stay calm.
    1.  By staying calm, you are helping to prevent the situation from escalating and getting out of control.  By staying calm you are demonstrating to your child that you are cool, calm, and collected.  This will help them deescalate their strong emotions.
  2. Practice communication skills with your child.
    1. Truly listen to what they are saying.  This lets your child know that you are interested in what they are saying.
    2. Restate what your child is saying and ask for more information.  This helps your child know they have been heard by acknowledging their feelings and statements.
    3. Utilize “I” statements when explaining your position on the topic.   For example “I am confused on why you want a later bedtime when you state you are tired in the morning.”  
    4. Follow up by asking the child to restate what you said.  The child still may not agree with the reasoning but having an open line of communication can build trust and respect between the child and the parent.

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