Imagine Jennifer takes her eighteen-month-old son Ricky to their favorite pizza place, but it’s closed. Ricky has waited all week for this special outing, and in a fit of frustration, Ricky throws himself on the ground and cries. Jennifer calmly acknowledges Ricky’s disappointment and says, “We were both so excited to have pizza. I’m disappointed, too! Let’s go home and make something extra special together. Next week after swim class, we’ll come back to have our favorite pizza.”
This example of managing frustration can be applied to various situations, using the following steps:
• Stay calm. If necessary, hold your child until he calms down.
• Acknowledge your child’s disappointment and frustration. “I know not getting pizza today was disappointing. It can be hard to wait.”
• Tolerate your child’s disappointment. Do not rush to “fix” the situation. Do not panic. You don’t need to find another pizza place tonight.
• Help your child learn to wait. Remember, your child cannot learn frustration tolerance if he does not experience some frustration.
• Make a plan with your child and follow through. If possible, offer an alternative that’s reasonable and not too far in the future.