Frustration

I had a brief exchange the other day with a facebook friend about temper tantrums. She’s a mom of a 3-week old and a step-mom/coparent to a 5-year old; she believes that temper tantrums are avoidable. I do not. She believes that kids should do as the parents says and I would like to qualify that.

Despite temperament and environment, you will not be able to force your one-year old to digest your commands and their emotions at every moment. There is so much growth and development occurring for toddlers who are experimenting with sounds, gravity and mobility, it’s almost unfair to expect them to be on their best behavior. The best thing we can do is lay the groundwork for emotional intelligence. I teach him that frustration is a part of life, I identify the emotion (anger, sadness, tired, FRUSTRATION, etc.) what caused it and ‘resolve’ it for him.

Example: He bonked his head on the wall turns around slaps the wall because it hurt him and then yells at it with some extra smacks.- At first, I use to smack it with him. THEN it occurred to me I don’t want him smacking someone if they get in his way or an accident happens. I don’t want to encourage violent behaviors. So, I now hold him and I make a silly voice for whatever the object was and make it apologize to him. I’ve been doing it for a little over  a month and he no longer hits everything when it frustrates him. He still smacks things and people every now and again, but he’s learning to be more gentle with the family and pets that we’re living with so I’m really proud of him.

Of course, I don’t expect Buddha to fall out and writhe on the floor if he doesn’t get his way. Has he? Yes, in private, mostly when I’m trying to put him to sleep & we’re sleep training now while he’s teething (oh joy, you must be thinking). Most of his meltdowns are associated with, ‘it’s bedtime’ and not getting extra outside time and I always promise him we’ll go back outside or that he’ll get to see/ play with xyz at a later day/time. & I always come through. Don’t lie to your kids, that’s ugly. Be dependable. Show your kids they can trust you. Especially if you’re a single parent, YALL ARE A TEAM!

The latter part of this discussion was that kids should do as parents say. Sure, to make my life easy I want my son to do as I say and he does for the most part, but to cultivate the strong-will that he was blessed with I want him to question authority. I want him to be curious and I want him to be an independent thinker. Does that work out for me all the time? No. Will it benefit him in the long run? I absolutely believe so. I think this will lay the ground work for social consciousness and questioning (mis)information, which is especially needed in a time of heightened political propaganda.

It’s important to me that he is intellectually curious even if he sticks his hand in the toilet after I told him 20 times to not touch the lid, even if he puts all the pots and pans on the floor after I told him for 2 months to only play with the plasticware, even if he throws his toys to the ground until I eventually confiscate them. I reprimand him and I try to not yell too much, I try to find a stern but gentle voice when dealing with misbehavior. I get mad every now again, especially if he did something to hurt me (so far, I got my first lick about a month ago with a wooden toy clubbed to the eyebrow and hairspray to the side of my nose 2 weeks following that incident) and I always remember IT’S NOT MALICIOUS.

He’s not purposely hurting me (or you, if you’re going through this), I teared up that last time and I was pissed and I just held his hand and my nose and stayed completely quiet and still, I was fuming, and told him that he really hurt me and he had already stopped paying attention and started on something else. HA. Their attention spans are hilarious and can out run a snap, don’t expect too much on listening skills at this point. Tell them so that information is shared but don’t be disappointed if they don’t acknowledge the sounds you’re throwing at them. He’s learning about his strength and his capabilities to grasp, kick, smack, throw, push, pull, lift etc. Everything’s new to toddlers, why be mad at them? Let them explore.

A lot of raising and teaching a kid is also being aware of your own reactions and demeanor. So, while you’re teaching them with how to deal with their frustrations there are plenty plenty of opportunities to learn about how to deal with your own frustration. I’ve learned to watch the volume of my voice, to not so easily be offended, to not take things personal, to let go of grievances, to know there will always be a mess and laundry to clean up 😅

What are some ways you mitigate frustration for you or your child?

Let me know!

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