A lot of parents complain that their child seems to be higher maintenance than they feel capable of handling. Their child is set off easily, is upset for long periods of time, and isn’t happy with most proposed solutions to the issues they are faced with. In short, their child has poor temperament. Children with defiant temperaments are often described as high-spirited, difficult, or challenging. In most cases, the parent has never had problems of the sort with their other children, and just have one child with temperament issues they don’t know how to deal with.
Most children with a low frustration tolerance are at risk of becoming oppositional. And in most cases, parents respond to their difficult children in such a manner that it makes their problematic behavior worse. The way to handle this sort of problem is to work with the child’s temperament, the parenting style and reaction, and the interaction between the two.
Children with low frustration tolerance just want whatever is causing them frustration to be resolved as quickly as possible. When they are struggling with a task, such as homework or a chore they’ve never done before, they find the best way to get rid of this frustration, and move onto something else. Similarly, if they want to do something and their parent is not allowing it, they will act out in hopes that it will make their parent change their mind and let them do what they are wanting to do.
How parents make it better or worse
It’s important to allow your child to be frustrated. Don’t try to prevent age-appropriate frustrations. Being faced with these frustrations help them learn to problem solve. A parent makes a situation better or worse depending on how they interact with their child, especially when a problem arises.
So how can you make things better? Set appropriate limits, manage your own anxiety, reinforce positive behaviors, and seek to understand the motivations behind your child’s actions.
How do you avoid making things worse? Don’t argue with your child when your child doesn’t do what you ask. Your child knows the limit, and when they fight back, you don’t need to try to re-explain it. This just makes your child more frustrated. As long as the two of you are arguing, your child thinks that they can change your mind. If you give in, your child knows that by throwing a fuss, they will win the argument. If you punish your child, you are giving them another reason to blame you for not removing their frustration.
Instead, let your child complain about their frustration, and then let them have the last word. Even if it’s provocative. Stick to your limits, don’t argue with them, and don’t try to convince them to agree to your limits.