Managing his frustrations

How could it be that a child so little can make you so nervous when you must ask him to do something? Are you managing his frustrations correctly?

Your child learns really fast. The little baby that seemed so grateful as you protected and fed him suddenly sees his world differently as he learns to walk and discovers new grounds. The wonderful mother you were became an obstacle to games, playing with plants, pulling the table cloth, going down the stairs and on top of everything, you decide when the day is over and send him to sleep. Now and again, you are a “bad mom”! Now and again your child goes berserk and makes you worried and angry at the same time and you feel trapped and helpless. What should we do to calm this child, knowing that he will not get everything he wants forever?

A child is a child

First of all, when you must refuse something, never forget that your child is not an adult. He does not understand implied meanings, irony or sarcasm. He will not understand that when you say “Sure you can go to bed around midnight, what do you think?”, you mean “no”. Make things simple and just say “no”. It will be less stressful for him and he will find it easier to believe you if you are being consistent. Getting clear instructions and knowing that he understands what you say will make him less frustrated.

It is also best to avoid saying “okay?” or “do you mind?” when you give instructions. When your child hears a question, he supposes he can say no. “The final “okay?” signs a request for approval and leaves room to disagreements. The child can say “no””, says Véronique Guérin, author and psycho-sociologist. Be firm and clear, offer choices that lead to the same result such as “Would you prefer to take a bath or a shower” and avoid overprotecting your child. He will be more confident when he will realize that bathing, sleeping and putting his toys away is not as hard as he thought.

Growing up

Managing frustrations is an important part of a child’s growth but it is one of the hardest for mothers. You wanted to make him happy and you end up feeling responsible for his sadness and his misfortune. However, you should not feel guilty.

According to Véronique Guérin, “The adult who wants to spare his child prevents him from finding inner peace and from becoming the hero who “survives” frustrations, separations and other difficulties.” Learning to manage frustrations will help your child manage his anger and accept failure. Of course, many good parents feel awful to refuse little things that seem very easy to give after a half-hour tantrum but remember that controlling himself and dealing with frustrations is a much better gift than anything he may be asking for and that it will help him for the rest of his life.

Avoid going too far

A frustrated child can say bad thing, scream, hit you, throw objects and roll on the floor in spectacular crises that surprise you, worry you and make you angry. Never forget that he is a child and you are an adult. If you lose your temper, make sure that he is safe, with another adult, and walk away for a moment. It will break the tension and when you get back, you will find the patience to discuss rationally.

These crises help your child exteriorize a temporary rage that he cannot yet explain and rationalize. Because these frustrations already seem unbearable, avoid putting your affection in the balance when he already thinks that everything is refused to him. If he knows that you will always be there for him, even after he has been angry, he will be reassured and it will give him the courage to listen to your advice and learn self-control.

Image de Anne Costisella

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