Preschoolers ~ Dealing with Frustration

November 30, 2009

We all deal with frustration – that tense, unhappy feeling we get when we can’t do something we think we should be able to do.   As adults, we have learned ways to deal with the problems that life throws our way.   Most young children have not yet developed these skills and so experience strong feelings of anger and frustration.  These emotions play havoc with their self-control and may result in crying, temper tantrums or silent withdrawal.

Parents can help young children learn to keep trying and avoid frustration.   Here are some ideas to help children cope:

  • Make sure your child knows that he is loved ~ then he begins to see himself as a good, loveable person
  • Talk to your child and put feelings into words ~ “I hate it when I can’t make something work the way I want it to” or “It must have hurt your feelings when you didn’t get picked”
  • Help your child discover appropriate ways of expressing frustration ~ ask for help, draw a picture, take a break, run around the house, listen to music, etc.
  • Help your child identify activities that he is good at, as well as the ones that are more likely to cause frustration.
  • Break down tasks and give lots of encouragement for small accomplishments. A large task such as “clean your room” may be overwhelming.  Break it down into smaller pieces ~ “You pick up the toys and I’ll put away your clothes”.
  • Give lots of praise ~ each time your child learns a new skill ~ right from the earliest days ~  let him know how well he has done and how proud you are of him!