8 Ways to Help Kids Handle Frustration
By Sandy Schroeder
Deep down, we know learning to manage frustration makes a child more resilient, but it is hard to stand back and watch them cope. Through all of the tears, foot-stamping and full-on tantrums, there are ways to remain calm as you say "not yet" or "no." UC Berkeley's book, Raising Independent, Self-Confident Kids, gives us some useful tips.
Remain calm and supportive - No matter how embarrassed, angry or anxious you may be, it is important to be the rock in the eyes of the child. If you cave and react to the situation, you may make the child more anxious, or teach them to use tantrums to get what they want.
Say yes when you can - Sometimes the child's request can be granted and you can enjoy the moment with them. When you both love chocolate donuts or strawberry ice cream, say yes once in a while and share the pleasure.
Know when you have to say no - Be firm and clear when you have to.
- The situation is dangerous and needs to be stopped, such as playing in the street
- The request is overboard, like wanting an outrageously expensive toy
- Physical or verbal attacks come up with your child leading the charge
- The timing is wrong, too close to dinner, too late in the day, or just not possible
Provide security with consistency - Kids need to know they can count on their parents, and react the same way each time. If you nod and smile one time, and blow up the next, you are not doing the child a favor. Kids need to know where they stand, even when they are not thrilled with the response.
Teach as you go - Each time you and the child deal with an issue you have the opportunity to show them how to listen, be patient and be respectful.
Really listen - Knowing that you are listening and want to know what is wanted and why can give the child a sense of justice. If you barely listen, or shut them down completely, the child is bound to be frustrated, and sad or angry.
Be patient - Restate what they said and ask them to tell you what you said. This may take a few repeat tries to capture what they believe they said and how you see it, but it may teach them and you to be patient.
Always respect them - Treat them in a kind firm manner without labeling them or snapping at them. If they are too upset to be reasonable, tell them you can talk more later and set the request aside.
Through it all let them know you are there for them and you care.
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