I don’t know if it’s an official documented trend or not, but there is something that I have seen in kids (boys, in particular). To give it a name, we’ll coin a new term, “Frustration Intolerance Disorder” or F.I.D.
FID manifests in many ways, the chief among them are meltdowns (e.g., total spasmodic fits) when encountering mild or moderate frustration. The frustration may be come from sources like homework, but can also show up while playing video game, engaging with sports or anything where the child is asked to do something that causes some difficulty or is unpleasant.
Look, I know when I say the following, I risk placing myself back in the era of log cabins, but I don’t remember any of us as kids melting down when we lost a game, missed a shot or struck out. Sure we didn’t like losing, but there were never full-out tantrum-fit. I think we would have been mortified if we had one.
Take Blaine, age 7. He thinks he is a really special athlete. (His family certainly has told him so many times in his short life.) Somewhat a more natural an athlete in his estimation than his peers, James shows good sports instincts while playing basketball, swinging a baseball bat or hitting a tennis ball, for example. His parents’ first child, they have watched his every swing and shot, praising him lavishly with the successes they have dutifully witnessed.
Blaine and his dad recently went to a pitch and putt golf course. Of course, Blaine’s sense of self was such that he thought he would sink virtually every putt that he had to make. Well, after two holes missing putts that professional could miss, Blaine had a display of FID, throwing himself on the ground, melting down, crying and pounding the ground. His dad did his best to console him, by telling him how wonderful he really was.
The girls can be in the mix too. Take young Chloe, age 5. Chloe overreacts to everything. For example, while putting Chloe in her car seat, her father jostled her slightly beyond what she expected and she started crying and screaming at her dad that he was hurting her on purpose. Chloe’s dad apologized profusely to her so as to try and calm her down and help her regain a sense of composure. Some call it “sensory” with Chloe – that is she has “sensory” issues and that’s why she reacts like she does. I’m not so sure, as she never shows these behaviors in school or in other situations beyond the home interactions.
It’s not just young kids though.
Mark, age 15, is very tied in to his X-Box, playing games with his “friends” (you know the people online that he “socializes” with who he has never met) about four or five hours a day. The other night while his parents were upstairs, they heard James have a teen meltdown. Cursing, throwing his game controller against the wall and nearly putting his fist threw the dry wall, James was heard screaming, “I suck…I suck.” When his parents went to calm him down, Mark was inconsolable.
These FID-like kids are not easy and in many ways they are the product of our current child-rearing philosophy of no frustration along with the over concern of self-esteem, making sure that the child feels overly positive in every situation.
There is no quick fix, no magic solution, but there may be a few considerations when looking at FID. We will address this in upcoming blog posts.
In modern childhood there may be a trend in the making – we have labeled it Frustration Intolerance Disorder.
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