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April 7, 2011

Understanding Frustration in Children

Author: JenniferMaster1

Imagine living under the control of large people;  being dependent on them to meet your every need; and being unable to accomplish many of the things you’d like to. It’s not a pleasant image, but it’s reality for every preschooler. Little wonder they’re often frustrated.

There are times when your child may want a toy or sugar-coated cereal, and you politely say “No.” But your child dissolves into tears of frustration. Do you feel sympathetic? Not at all. Now you feel frustrated. You can’t have what you want either: a cooperative, cheerful child.

Understanding what cause children to be frustrated can help us deal with this powerfulemotion better. So what are some causes of frustration? Here’s a good starter list.

1.  Parents set limits. Even if you are calm and constructive about saying no, your child may react angrily when you won’t allow the cupcake before dinner.

2.  Impatience can be a healthy sign when your child is stretching to accomplish something and learning in the process. From the six-month-old who can’t grasp the teddy bear just out of her reach to the six-year-old who cannot master a board game, kids are always up against tasks that are a little beyond their abilities. In many ways, frustration is
a pre-requisite for growth.

3.  Sometimes kids get frustrated by circumstances that are beyond their control. Maybe a friend can’t play because they’re sick or a new toy doesn’t work. Adults may understand such disappointments, but a three year old can’t.

4.  Fatigue, hunger, and illness also lower the frustration threshold. Since young children don’t recognize that they are worn down, it’s up to a parent to say: “Let’s break for a snack. You can work on that project later.”

Here are a few challenges that get to almost every child:

Under 3 years old

*Physical obstacles – “I can see it, but I can’t reach it.”
*Communication – “Why don’t they understand me?”
*Toilet training – “What’s the big deal?”

3 to 5 years old

*Shopping – “I want it all, and I want it now!”
*Friends and siblings – “Jason won’t give me that toy!”
*Personal care – “I won’t wear that!”

As a parent or caregiver just smile and say,  “It’s all good! Tomorrow will be better!”

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