Learning To Appropriately Handle Frustrations Is An Important Skill That Will Help Kids With Social Relationships Throughout Their Lifespan.
Frustrations are part of life. How to help children manage frustrating situations depends on various factors.
The most important factor is getting to the root of the situation.
Here are some common reasons that kids get frustrated:
- They are not able to verbalize their feelings or don’t know how to solve the problem.
- They are at a developmental stage when they want to decide things for themselves and have their own voice.
- They have a fear of failure or not measuring up to the expectations of themselves or others.
Once you get to the root of the situation, it will be easier to tackle it accordingly.
Here are some ideas that can help:
- Help Children Verbalize Their Feelings
- Pre-verbal /Low-verbal Children: Help them to label their feelings by voicing for them how they feel (i.e. “You’re mad!” I know, you want all the dinosaurs”). Use emotion songs such as “If You’re Happy and You Know It” with body language and sounds to match the emotions.
- Verbal Children: Need assistance with verbalizing the reason behind their emotions, so that they can effectively de-escalate their feelings (i.e. I feel mad because….).
- Help Provide Ways to Calm Feelings When Children Are Feeling Mad
- In The Early Stages Of Learning How To Regulate Emotions : children will need help with de-escalating heightened feelings BEFORE they are able to listen to how to better handle their frustrations.
- Offer A Variety Of Techniques: Every child will have a way which works best for them.
- Squeezing hands together– provides the sensory experience of proprioceptive input which calms the body, it releases physical tension in a socially appropriate way, and it can be done discretely.
- Have A Fidget In Their Pocket-That is calming or soothing or them.
- Breathing techniques
- Ask For A Self-initiated Break-get a drink of water, do a quiet activity
- Help Children Understands The Difference Between a “Want To” and “Need To”
- A “Want To”: Children have choices. This helps children feel good about deciding things for themselves (i.e. Picking out which shirt to wear, their Halloween costume, or the bedtime book).
- A “Need To”: Children do not have a choice (i.e. a safety issue, a health issues, or going to/leaving certain places etc.). Allow smaller choices if possible within the “need to”: “You “need to” hold a hand at this busy place. Do you want to hold Mommy’s or Daddy’s hand?
- Help Children Make The Connection Between Their Choices And The Consequences of Their Actions
- Physical Consequences: Intense anger lead to body tension, elevated body temperatures, and the physical release of this anger (ie. Temper tantrums or aggression) leads to physical exhaustion…an overall yucky way to feel.
- Societal Consequences:
- Intense Anger-leads to negative reactions from others resulting in things that make them unhappier…instead of happier.
- Talking Things Out- helps them work through problems and reach a solution which helps them feel better.
- Be Calm And Patient Yourself
- When Adults Are Calm: Children calm down faster, feel safer, and look to the adult as a positive role model.
- Changes In Behavior Take Time: Although it is natural to want these changes to occur quickly because of the difficulty that these behaviors create, new coping skills take lots of repetition, consistency and time.