Plans can change at the last minute (e.g., it rained hard just when you were about to leave for the theme park), we can’t always get our way (e.g., your 6-year-old can’t be serious about wanting to score VIP tickets to a One Direction concert!), and win all matches (e.g., he didn’t make the cut to the school’s basketball team). But for a kid, that doesn’t make disappointments any less upsetting. How does your child deal with frustration, and what should you do?
The Overreactor. How to deal: Younger children aren’t able to adequately express their feelings. Instead of words, they use actions, hence, the occasional tantrum. How you manage those tantrums can be rather tricky. Let’s evaluate the situation. Is this just a misunderstanding? Is this an attention-seeking behavior? Giving in is not always the solution, especially if the tantrum is based on unrealistic demands (e.g., he wants to watch TV at 3 a.m.) Fighting fire with fire will only exacerbate the situation—shouting or scolding a child in full tantrum mode will help no one. The best you can do is to bring your child to a quiet place, make sure he or she is not in any position to hurt anyone else (or themselves), and quietly wait for the tantrum to subside. Let him see that his behavior is not getting to you in any way, even if inside, you’re like a time bomb waiting to explode. One word: chill.
The Sulker. How to deal: If your child tends to sulk and show her disappointment, take it all in stride. Explain patiently why a playdate had to be cancelled, or why their favorite ice cream flavor isn’t available. Please make your children understand that because you came home late from work, they have every right to be upset that it’s past their bedtime and their favorite bedtime story will have to wait another day. To both the overreactor and the sulker, say you are sorry and explain why things didn’t go their way today. You may tell them that it was right to be frustrated, but it was how they acted on their feelings that was not appropriate. When all is said and done, however, don’t make any promises for the next day that you won’t be able to keep. Just keep your options open, reassure your child that you will do your best, and that next time will be better for all of you.
The Cool Cucumber. How to deal: While we wish our children would be calm and composed when dealing with frustration and disappointment, we don’t want them to take it too coolly. Let’s think a couple of months back: Were you able to spend quality time with your child? Were there promises made that were not kept? Was it explained in an appropriate manner? Hopefully, your child ‘acting all cool’ about frequent setbacks isn’t because he’s expecting plans and promises not to be fulfilled. Reevaluate your schedule for the next few weeks. Do you have free time to take your child out on a date? Are there days you can take off work earlier to come home and have dinner with your children? Every child eventually learns that their parents have to work and cannot be with them 24/7. That doesn’t mean their eyes don’t light up when you come through the door a few hours earlier to spend time with them. Reestablish your mother-and-child bond and enjoy your time together.
Original article from Working Mom’s July 2014 issue, written by Jack Alexander C. Herrin, M.D. Check out more exciting stories in the latest issue of Working Mom available in bookstores and on newsstands for P120. Download the Working Mom Magazine app for access to all digital editions on your tablet or smartphone, available in Zinio, and Buqo Digital Newsstands. Like Working Mom on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ WorkingMom.Magazine) and follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@WokingMomMag).
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Photograph by Allan Santos