Frustration Intolerance: Part II

December 22, 2017

Last week we talked about a trend that I see in childhood where kids will have major whining events or meltdowns over seemingly small to medium amounts of frustration (discomfort), such as homework.  We gave it a name F.I.D or Frustration Intolerance Disorder.

Here’s one mom’s response to the post:

Don’t keep us in suspense!!! I’m sure I’m not the only parent that deals with this issue on a daily basis. In a world of instant gratification, our children cannot handle any sort of discomfort (mental or physical). It is a daily battle in our household. It is one of the most frustrating challenges of parenting today.


We’ve completely indulged our children in more than just material goods. We’ve told our children how great they are to a fault. Trying to foster self- confident children, we’ve created self-absorbed, impatient monsters that are not equipped to deal with any distress.

 

With the way child rearing is headed it scares me to think about what generation and future generations will become.

I guess that lays it out pretty clearly.

I know there are elaborate behavioral systems out there and programs that train parents (and teachers) to be on top of their game for exquisite responding at the moment of melt-down, but most parents that I know don’t have the time or energy for all of that.

Much more “meat and potatoes” guidance is needed to try and do two things:

  1. Reduce the frequency of these occurring,
  2. Responding effectively when they do occur.

Responding Effectively When Occurring

To respond effectively there are some basic principles to embrace.  These principles guide you as a parent.

It’s my experience that when you take care of this one (#2), then #1 takes care of itself.

  • Once the child starts whining or moving toward the meltdown state, think of it as the child is baiting the hook and trying to suck you in. DON’T BITE THE BAIT.   Do anything but bite the bait.  Go outside for fresh air, pour water cold water on your face, anything but engage.  Engaging is oxygen for the smoldering fire.
  • As a famous phrase goes, remind yourself that, “This too shall pass.” Think of it as unpleasant noise or a storm.  (You don’t yell at storms.) Just make sure the knives and breakables are out of the child’s reach.
  • After the “storm” has passed, calmly ask your child, “Are you ready to try again. I am happy to help out if you’d like.”  Understand that it is totally the child’s choice.  If he doesn’t want to go back to completing his work, then that’s his choice.  He can choose to be unhappy.  But,  there is no access to any of the various and sundry “pleasurables” that are within reach such as iPads or whatever. 
  • Keep in mind relative to point three, that you are not punishing your child and you aren’t setting up a control battle. He just hasn’t made the choice that will lead to the usual “pleasurables.”
  • If the child starts whining for something like a video game or some other such pleasurable, calmly state, something like, ”Aww, it’s such a shame, but iPads and video games only comes to kids who choose to face their work. Let me know when you are ready.

When the child manages things well, praise and put a nice check on a visible calendar – a paper one, not on your phone.

That’s it.

Usually in these situations parents are expending all kinds of energy, yelling, arguing, cajoling and getting themselves all worked up. It’s exhausting and depleting. In this approach, (The shrugging and “Oh, well” style of parenting) the parent expend very little to no effort and puts the choice squarely where it belongs – on the child.

Reducing the Frequency

When you don’t give it fuel it starts to die out over time.

You can explain during moments of openness such as “tuck in time” something like the following

“I want you to understand that the whining and fits that you are having are  going to stop.  You’re a big boy/girl (even if the child is little it doesn’t matter) and big boys manage their homework on their own.  Mommy will be close by if you need help, but when you start to whine, complain or cry I am going to leave the room. When you’re calm, I will come back and work on the problem together.”

After tuck in, pour yourself a glass of wine and forget about it!!

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