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how do you help them cope with the frustration of not being able to do something?

(9 Posts)
edam Sun 26-Jun-11 12:08:56

Am asking on behalf of my sister. Her very lovely dd, aged 5, has complete meltdowns if she's frustrated at not being able to do something. Yesterday she had a tantrum lasting 45 minutes because she couldn't do something on the Wii Fit balance board. Screaming and unable to stop. This is a regular thing, and she'll cry 'I'm useless, I can't do it, it's not fair!'

Are there any techniques we can teach her to deal with frustration? She's really extreme and unable to cope with it - I mean all children get fed up when they can't do something (ds says the 'I'm stupid' thing) but my niece is something else.

Would be v. v. grateful for any tips or pointers!

Shannaratiger Sun 26-Jun-11 12:14:14

My ds(4) is exactly the same, sorry no advice will just watch with interest!

Adair Sun 26-Jun-11 12:24:33

Maybe try to limit things where she will be completely unable to do it, while letting her try things of course. Remind that everything takes practice. Enjoy trying to learn something with her (and model how to 'fail' - you getting cross because you can't do it but laughing and trying again).

Is a key skill to be able to make mistakes IMVHO and one that many many children -and adults- do not have (am secondary teacher).

In that example I would give a big cuddle and sympathise and then have a go at something on the wii and make her laugh and 'show me' how to do it...

edam Sun 26-Jun-11 13:35:53

All very sensible Adair. Will ask my sister whether she's showing her dd that she (my sister) can't do some things as well.

Forgot to say, it's so bad that my sister is planning to keep her dd off school on sports day. My niece isn't cross if someone else wins, it's not jealousy, she's angry with herself for not coming first. Had a massive meltdown last year in nursery because another little boy dropped his hula hoop and took hers off her (most children would be very cross/crying but my niece was distraught for an hour...).

ds has a particular book that he really enjoys making me read because I stumble over the words. It's about prehistoric creatures, not just dinosaurs, and you have to spot hundreds of the beggars on every page. My Greek (or Latin?) just isn't good enough to cope which makes ds giggle.

edam Sun 26-Jun-11 13:38:01

Although I suspect my niece may not care whether my sister can do it, her rage is focused on her own lack of success. She'll never learn anything new at this rate!

Adair Sun 26-Jun-11 13:50:23

I understand. It's more about modelling and explaining how the adult deals with those emotions so acknowledging that it IS annoying/horrible/you feel silly etc but then you find a way to deal with it.It is trying to separate your behaviour from YOU as a person and being able to make mistakes but still be YOU. Like I said, lots of adults find it hard (including me - I beat myself up if i have 'failed' and been horrible to the kids, instead of apologising and moving on). She needs the acknowledgement of the crappy feelings, and also the reassurance and love that SHe is still loved and brilliant and fab IMVHO.

edam Sun 26-Jun-11 14:40:45

Yup, failure is hard, I tend to brood when it happens to me. You are right, she needs to learn how to manage her intense feelings. Do you know of any good techniques?

Adair Sun 26-Jun-11 15:47:39

Perhaps a way of acknowledging the feelings - a diary (though hard at this age), or a 'thing you say' (i got dd saying 'oh smelly poo-pants!!' and we both giggle at the 'naughtiness').

Then it 's about the bigger picture so remembering (perhaps later, when she is calm) when she was a baby and she learned to walk and first she did this (play with crawling example) then THIS (lots of falling down) and now LOOK (though we still fall over sometimes!!)!
Or something she actually remembers - riding a bike or scooter...

Will have a think, am doing a therapy study day on Sat so will ask then!

MamaChoo Sun 26-Jun-11 17:55:21

We move away the from 'can/can't' paradigm and use 'trying' instead. There's no limit on trying. Once 'trying' and 'practising' are the goals, rather than the absolute of can, there are a lot more levels of achievement. "woohoo i could really see how hard you were trying! Good effort!" etc. Recent studies have shown this to be a positive method for encouaging academic achievement as well.

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