Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Dealing with Frustration.

So many parents come to me with concerns that their child gets angry or frustrated. This usually happens when they lose at a game or trying to learn something new. I am excited to share what has worked for me and my family.

I usually find that the trigger for frustration is making a judgement that we are not learning quick enough or we should have done better or won. It is easy to see the trigger as the source of the feelings of frustration. When a student doesn't win at a game, we might say something about winning or losing or being a better sport or maybe next time if you train more you will win. These focus
on the trigger and re-enforce the idea that they are the source of the feelings of frustration.

For me I don't see triggers as the source of our negative or positive feelings but the underlying un-met or met needs. For frustration it is usually our need for


aka just being good at things. This may seem like a subtle difference but it makes a very important distinction that allows you to meet this need in hundreds of different ways instead of only winning or become competent at the skill that was the initial trigger.

For example a student might become frustrated after losing a soccer game.

Child: "I hate soccer. I'm so stupid for losing. The other team cheated. I don't ever want to play soccer again."
Dad: "I hear you are feeling angry when you think about losing the game?"
Child: "Yeah I'm angry. I should have won."
Dad: "So you are feeling really angry."
Child: "Yes I'm angry."
Dad: "Are you feeling angry when you think about losing the game because you love to
be good at things."
Child: "Yes I'm angry because I was not good at the game."
Dad: "You're feeling angry because you need to be good at things?"
Child: "Yes I'm angry because I need to be good at things."

This last statement by the child is what we are looking to find out and have them realize. It wasn't the game that caused these feelings. It was their need for being good at things. Already one feels better because we all have this same need and there is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to meet that need.

Dad: "What are somethings you feel excited about doing because you get to be good at them?"
Child: "Nothing I'm a loser."

Here I might chose to repeat the process again with this statement focusing on feelings of sadness and the same need to be good at things. Or I might continue as such.

Dad: "It looks like you are feeling happy when you play tag with me. Is that something you are good at?"
Child: "Yes that is fun and I'm pretty fast."
Dad: "So you feel excited playing tag because you are good at it and it meets your need to be good at things?"
Child: "Yes. Can we play tag?"
Dad: "Sure."

At this point our dad has help his child to realize his feelings are coming from his needs being met or not met. Then they came up with a strategy to make sure he gets his need for competence meet. Dad might want to watch this need in the future and check in with his child that it is getting met.

I hope this helps you in the same way it has helped my family. I find this idea useful for myself. I would love to hear your feedback because I love helping people.

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