There are many challenging aspects of parenting, but one of the more difficult is watching your child fail. No parent wants to see their child hurt or feel frustration, however, in reality these are the exact circumstances and emotions where teachable moments are born. In the last week alone we have tackled learning to ride a tricycle, wanting to color inside the lines, and sharing a 'valuable' toy. These experiences can seem somewhat simplistic to an adult, yet they are incredibly complex for children. Understanding what it means to persevere [or keep trying] is a life-lesson that extends far beyond the toddler or preschool years.
Helping your child talk through what they are feeling will give him/her a better sense of control. It is easy to sweep in a make the situation better, however, coaching your child with language such as, "I know you feel frustrated because even though you try the marker sometimes goes outside the lines..." will model strategies for communicating frustration with you [or any other person]. Next, you can give examples of strategies that will empower your child to try again in the future.
Of the scenarios we encountered the past week, learning to ride a tricycle was the smoothest. In large part this had to do with the additional support and encouragement Little A received from his big brother. As a parents I make an effort to model a 'can-do' attitude with our children, but time and time again I find there to be a greater responsiveness to the cheerleading and advice to 'keep trying' from brother to brother. This is another reminder of how influential the sibling bond can be.
There are instances where the best approach is to help your child walk away from a task, game, etc. because they are overly frustrated. Knowing when to take a break is equally important and can be a sign that the task is beyond the child's reach. In these moments make a point to revisit the task or activity after a break when the mood has calmed. With the second attempt the parent can try to: 1) model the skill, 2) provide a small amount of assistance if the skill is beyond the child's scope, or 3) simplify the activity to make it attainable [especially if the task is beyond the child's motor and/or cognitive development).
Whether it is learning to ride a bike, color inside the lines, or share a special toy, the value of feeling frustration and understanding what it means to have such an experience is equally as valuable to the skill at hand. In the end we had a lot of accomplishments to celebrate because of the boys' efforts. And, yes, the celebration and acknowledgment of what the hard work led to is almost always the best part [even for the adult]!
ABOUT CHRISSY K
I am mom to three boys (one with several life-threatening food allergies) who will never own too many picture books or create Pinterest-worthy snacks. Simply Chrissy K is a place to find helpful tips on parenting that stem from my work with families as an educational consultant and parenting coach.
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Based on a work at http://www.strongtots.com