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8 Guidelines to Improve Frustration Tolerance in Children

When you fail, are you able to get up and keep going? If you answered yes, that means that you have successfully learned to improve frustration tolerance.

Frustration is the unpleasant experience that generates feelings of sadness, anger, and helplessness that we have upon realizing that we are not able to achieve a goal that is important to us.

Frustration tolerance is a psychological skill that needs learning and practice in order to develop. But what do we depend on to be more or less tolerant of frustration? There are numerous factors that can influence it:

  • Each child has their own specific temperament and character, so each will have a certain sensitivity threshold.
  • An education based on emotions. Self-awareness is a basic pillar that children must work on in order to grow and become healthy adults.
  • The family climate. The day to day interaction between parents and their children is crucial for getting them to tolerate frustration. We must move away from the extremes, not authoritarian parenting that generates continuous frustration in children, but also not permissive parenting that grants every request. The key is to find a happy medium.

It is common that children with a low frustration tolerance are impatient, impulsive, demanding, and need their needs met immediately. They have bursts of anger, loss of control, and crying. They are egocentrics who do not tolerate the limits imposed on them because they see them as a threat against their desires. They avoid facing new challenges since they will show their limitations.

Of course, it is not an easy task to learn to improve frustration tolerance and on many occasions, it can even become painful. However, what is clear is that it is one of life’s necessary skills as it is shown that people with high frustration tolerance have better psychological, work and social adaptability.

8 guidelines to improve frustration tolerance in children

  1. You are their role model. The first step you should know is a large part of the knowledge that children acquire is through observation, so it is important for you to set a good example when solving everyday problems.
  2. Your little one has emotions. Teach your child to identify and label their own emotions. What do you feel when you’re angry? And when you’re happy? How does it feel for you? This will allow them to get to know their inner world so that later they learn to control and manage their feelings and emotions effectively.
  3. Don’t give permission for everything. Effort, effort, and more effort. This should be their motto in life. They should grow up knowing that everything has a price and that if you want something you should work for it. They will learn to seek alternative paths in the face of difficulties that will come up in their life. To face the most difficult moments without giving up.
  4. Provide them with the right tools. Teach your child to relax during moments of maximum tension. For example with physiological deactivation techniques or with the turtle technique.
  5. Be strong. Do not, under any circumstances, give in to their tantrums, otherwise, they will resort to them more and more. It is necessary to establish limits on children’s education and let them know that the word “NO” exists. If your little one learns that crying means they get what they want, then they will have no problem crying and crying until they get it. In psychology, this is called negative reinforcement. One way to deal with this is to “ignore” the tantrum or to apply the psychological “time-out” strategy.
  6. Learn from each mistake. “There is always calm after the storm.” After a tantrum, it is time to stop and reflect on what happened together. How it can be avoided and what should be done in those situations, so that you can create constructive learning about what happened before their tantrum and so they are able to handle a similar situation in the future.
  7. Sign them up for an individual sport. Health professionals cannot stop repeating ”exercise adds years to your life,” but it is because sports also instill many values that can be used outside of the activity, like winning, losing, consistency, discipline, etc. Sports like chess, martial arts, or tennis also teach these skills.
  8. Give them a hand. Don’t leave them alone in the face of a challenge, teach and help your little one with learning this skill. Give them small daily challenges, reinforce them for small achievements, and teach them to ask for help at the right time (but they must be the first one looking for a solution).

Improve Frustration Tolerance
Photo: I. Alix


“When we long for life without difficulty, remind us that oaks grow strong under contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” – Peter Marshall

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