Do you have a child that has to have everything just right, perfect and in order? One that takes his or her time to make sure everything is working and going according to plan? One that easily gets frustrated when things are going all-wrong? One that turns frustration into anger? I do!
When my son was a baby and toddler, he was so easy to be a parent to. He was easy-going, didn’t cry much, content doing almost anything and always minded. He was the “perfect” child. Friend were jealous. Family was impressed. I thought, “wow, this parenting thing is easy for the second child.” That’s what I thought after after my first born was a strong-willed fighter!
But… there were a few challenges during those young years with my “perfect” child. Frustration came often and easily. And just not a little frustration, but all-out get mad and throw things. Where did this come from. Why was this perfectly content and quiet child having this issue?
Perfectionism runs rampant in this type of personality. And when things aren’t perfect, the result? Frustration. And if not managed, frustration will turn into anger. I knew that something had to change. Someway I had to help him get beyond that frustration so it didn’t get out of hand as he aged. And the key was to not change his personality. After all, we are all made uniquely and just right. It’s not my job or anyones job to change people. We all just need to learn to live in our strengths and work on our weaker areas. This is not an easy task for ourselves or helping our children. Thankfully, there is always help and ways to grow.
9 Ways To Help A Child Through Frustration
- Learn what the source of the frustration is.
- Is it a necessary frustration? Meaning, is the cause of the frustration something that needs to be done like school work or is it just a fun activity.
- Determine what part of the activity isn’t working “right”. Is it an easy fix, something the child is overlooking that you can easily show them how to fix? Don’t fix it yourself, help them to see the problem so they can help fix it. They need to learn how to solve problems, often they just need a little guidance.
- Is it a bigger problem that can’t be fixed or the child just can’t get over?
- Put the activity down, teach them to breathe and relax and rethink the problem. Talk about it with them, if they aren’t too frustrated to talk about it. If they are, don’t keep pushing the issue. As in Frozen, “Let it Go!” If the frustration has subsided and a solution can be seen, then revisit the activity.
- If that doesn’t work. Have them put the activity down and walk away from it. Find something else for the child to do that doesn’t cause frustration. Something you know they succeed at. Go back to activity that caused the frustration later.
- If there is still a problem and the activity isn’t necessary, like a video game they can’t win at, put the activity away until the child matures a bit and can manage frustration a little better. Show them that it isn’t about the game being “grounded”, but that this just isn’t the right time to play this game. We will try again in a month or so.
- If it is a necessary activity, like school work, chores, sports or lessons, then you will need to calmly help your child find a solution, a way to see the activity differently. You may have to sit through and read a whole math lesson so you can explain in a better way to the child. Your child may need to take 5-10 minute breaks every 15-30 minutes with an activity they are having trouble with.
- If you are still having a challenge and don’t know how to help, seek professional help. There is always someone that has been there and can help.
This does take a lot of effort on the parent’s part, but it is essential if you want your child to mature and grow into a healthy teen and adult. If you don’t help them to learn to manage their frustration, then during the teen years you may have a real problem. A problem that will make life hard on the whole family, especially for the one dealing with the frustration.
Here are a couple of the things I have done:
Problem: When my son was in Kindergarten he disliked coloring. Why? Because if it got out of the lines (remember, seeking perfection) then it was the end of the world. I tried to teach him it was ok to be messy and color anywhere, but that didn’t work. Solution: Let’s not color for a while and just circle the object with the right color the assignment is asking for. This helped tremendously. We homeschooled so this was doable for us, if your child attends a school, then you will have to be creative and possibly talk to the teachers. I now find him from time-to-time drawing and coloring.
Problem: Video games. Boy was this a frustrating source for him. If I saw him getting angry at a game because he wasn’t advancing or winning at it. Solution: He had to save the game and turn it off. If he was really angry, then it would be a couple of days before he could play again. If it was just a little frustration, then he could play again in an hour or so after the frustration subsided. I taught him to do this on his own too. He learned when he felt that frustration, he needed to walk away for a while, do something else and revisit the activity later. He has become very good at this over the years. However, he still has challenges from time to time with new things, like piano.
In the end, we have to help and teach our children to manage their emotions. Not all children will have this challenge. This will more often happen to children that are introverts and seek perfection. The result of your effort to help your children will be adults that can manage life and get through the sticky and hard parts. We have to stay the course and be that encouragement to our children, even if it’s hard.
More from Foundations Co. on Parenting
- Understanding Teens: The Battle Between Mom & Daughter
- Keep Your Kids Productive By Helping Others
- Emotions & Discipline Don’t Mix: 11 Steps to Discipline
- Three Areas to Praise Your Children
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Some of my favorite parenting books:
- The 5 Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
- Wired That Way by Marita Littauer
- The Strong Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson
- Raising Christians – Not Just Children by Florence Littauer (this was one of my most used books, when things seem to be going wrong again, I often referred back to this book. It has so many great ideas for keeping kids occupied, discipline and encouraging them. I think you can only buy this book used, but a great find)
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Links to Articles Relating to the Frustration in Children
(Disclaimer: I may or may not agree with everything in each article)
- Video Gamers Aggression linked to Frustration, Not Violent Content (I’m not an advocate for violent content in video games, and don’t necessarily agree with everything in this article, but it has good information related to the frustration that comes with anything)
- Overcoming Video Game Addiction in Children
- What To Do If Video Game Frustration Causes Your Child to Have a Temper Tantrum
- Fight Frustration
- 35 Ways You Can Help an Angry Kid
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