A while back we talked to you guys about a term that I made up called FID (Frustration Intolerance Disorder).
We offered suggestions as to how to address it ( Part II: Frustration Intolerance), but it looks like no one is listening, because I see the trend continuing.
Here are some of the hallmark features:
- Small difficulty leading to large reactions.
- Limited capacity to problem solve.
- Weak coping.
- Anticipation of task and shutting-down prior to starting (thinking that the task is too large to tackle).
Take young Braden, age 7, a child I recently evaluated. Sensing that Braden was one of these FID style kids, I tried to prep him prior to giving him certain tasks. For example, when putting down the spelling page which has 40 lines on the page for potential words to spell, I informed Braden that he was only doing some of the words, not all of them (no one does them all).
“Braden,” I started, “We’re going to spell some words on this page. Now, don’t worry (I could see the storm clouds quickly brewing), you’re not going to be doing this whole page…I promise you.”
After about 10 words, Braden started to dramatically seize his hair while tensing up, “Oh my God,” he exclaimed, “We have to do all of these???” (Remember, I told him we weren’t.)
(I’m not sure how it became such a common phrase, but I hear young kids exclaiming, “Oh, my God,” a great deal expressing their personal exasperation.)
After evaluating Braden, I talk to his mom about some of his reactions and his low-level frustration tolerance.
Shaking her head showing me non-verbally that she totally understood what I was saying about his lack of frustration tolerance, she said, “I see it all the time. We’re so worried about keeping the child happy that he almost never has to deal with frustration. I see it in our house and his friends and cousins. None of them can cope with the slightest difficulty.”
(It always helps me when the moms get it.)
From where I sit, too often these kids are quickly “diagnosed” ADD or ADHD. In fact, when a Braden style child is brought in to the physician’s office, it’s all but teed up to certify that the child has a medical condition, some neurobiological imbalance that is in need of treatment of a medical nature.
Hey, I get it. It’s a whole lot easier giving the kid his daily dose of Vyvanse or Concerta than having to deal with his reactions of exasperation and all of his, “Oh, my ‘Godding’” reactions. (In addition, as a side benefit with the “diagnosis,” a 504 Plan may get squeezed out of the school.)
I really don’t know what’s contributing to what I perceive to be an increase of kids who have low tolerance for frustration, but I have my suspicions. In the way back machine there was a word that one doesn’t hear very often – “grit.”
How does one get grit? Certainly, it does not come by making nice all of the time.
It also doesn’t come either by simply medicating it.
Grit is a skill (quality) that needs to be practiced over time.
When the child shows signs of working through his/her difficulty, notice it and offer a nice comment. A simple, “That’s nice Braden – you really worked through it.”
You don’t need to go over the top with clapping and statements like, “You’re so amazing, Braden.” Keep it mild and low key.
Stay with it. Keep encouraging working through frustration and your child will incrementally increase his ability to “tough it out.”
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