Kids holler or hit when they are frustrated. Whether it’s solving a challenging math problem or working with challenging people, children act out because they lack the coping skills needed to manage stress. Children can even grow frustrated with themselves, committing self-injury or, in extreme cases, suicide due to escalating frustrating events.
We live in a society that is becoming increasingly chaotic, and teaching your children how to manage frustration can help them navigate life’s tough terrain. Below are just a few suggestions that can help your children keep cool when they experience frustration. Preventing conflict is an important avenue to an emotionally healthy life.
The release of crying
Crying rids us of negative energy, both spiritually and physiologically. After a good cry, we tend to feel lighter, and one of tears’ many benefits is to release toxins from our bodies. Yet we often raise our children – especially our boys – to believe that crying is for the weak. “Toughen up,” we say to them until the only emotion they can display with ease is anger.
Living in a community where the unruly seems to rule, this may seem helpful for survival, but in the long run it can cripple our children and impede their ability to release the weight of sadness, anxiety and stress.
Therefore, instead of teaching your children to suppress their tears, show them how to express their vulnerabilities in a nurturing environment. Tell them it’s OK to cry around trusted adults and peers who will support them instead of criticizing. More than likely, the act of crying will prove cathartic for your children, allowing them the clear mind needed to solve their problems and deal with their frustrations in a healthier way.
Think and speak positively
Your focus becomes your fuel, so teach your children to focus on the positive during frustrating times. Thinking and speaking positively is a wonderful skill to develop in a child because they are generally more hopeful and are more willing to believe the best. Take advantage of their optimism and teach your child to say, “I will have a better day at school tomorrow,” rather than having him concentrate on the bad day he had today. Have your child say, “I can learn all my spelling words by the end of the week,” as opposed to mulling over the 65 percent she got on the last test. Having your children think and speak positively enables them to give self-pep talks and leaves the responsibility of encouragement up to them. In addition, teaching your children to focus on things that are good gives them the confidence that they need to put in the work required to achieve what they believe.
Solving a problem is harder to do when emotions are in the way. Therefore, it is extremely important to equip children with problem-solving skills that they can use when frustration takes hold. Brainstorm potential problems he or she might face, such as dealing with peer pressure, completing homework, or washing the undisciplined dog. Then talk about ways those problems can be solved. Determine several possible solutions and have your child pick the solution he or she is most comfortable using. Finally, help your child act out those situations to have a practiced plan in place the moment they feel frustrated. Giving your children the tools will help them solve potentially frustrating situations.
Ask for help
Children become even more frustrated when they cannot find solutions, and they need to be able to ask for help when they get in a bind. Therefore, show your children the various ways of appropriately asking for help, such as raising their hand in a classroom, walking up to an information booth, or typing in “how to …” in a Google search box. Often taken for granted, the skill of asking for help should be explicitly taught to preteens and teens who are often too intimidated or egotistical to admit when they don’t know. Encouraging kids to seek assistance when they need help may save them from the frustration of believing they have to figure things out on their own and allow them other possible ways to find solutions.
Teaching your child how to defuse frustration will help them go from healthy, happy, and well-adjusted children to healthy, happy, and well-adjusted adults.