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Dealing with Frustration

By Michael Pearl

MIKE: Hi, I’m Mike Pearl, and they drug me down off the hill where I’ve been working to answer your questions, which I am delighted to be doing here on this beautiful afternoon. Tremaine is here with us and he is going to read the question and I’m going to see if I can answer it. What’s the first question, Tremaine?

TREMAINE: A woman writes in and says, “How do I train my one-year old to be patient and not get angry with toys when they don’t do what he wants them to do. He gets very upset if he can’t open a book or turn the pages. He cries and gets red and tosses the book. If he’s pushing something around the house and he gets to a wall and can’t push it any farther he freaks out. I’m not sure if it’s an opportunity to spank him, to show him it’s wrong to act like that, or if I just need to speak calmly and show him how to do it. Sometimes I just ignore, him because I’m so confused as to how to go about training in this area. Thank you.

MIKE: All right. That is not a spanking occasion. It’s not an act of rebellion or hostility. The little fella is angry, because he’s frustrated at his own ability to do something. For instance, the wall gets in his way, or the toys don’t cooperate. Sometimes in the development of children there are things that we don’t understand, that just don’t make sense to us, but one thing that always makes sense is – Don’t create hostility between you and your children. Don’t create a competitive atmosphere. Don’t create condemnation. Spanking him wouldn’t make him not be frustrated when he ran into the wall. He just needs more experience so that he can become an overcomer in some of those trials and difficulties. I think ignoring him is probably a good idea; in addition to, as you said, showing him. When he runs into the wall just patiently show him how he can back it up and turn around. Maybe you can get on some little toy and run into the wall yourself. And when you do then laugh, and then back your toy up and turn it around and show him how it’s done. Show him how to respond.

Or if he gets frustrated with trying to put his clothes on or his shoes on or something, sit down on the floor with him and put your own shoes on and show an inability to accomplish a task and then respond in a happy, cheerful way; and then help him put his shoes on. So he just needs to be encouraged to be able to accomplish tasks effectively. His little body is growing and his mind is growing and the two are not keeping in sync. You might see another child that doesn’t act that way and you think “Well, there’s something wrong with my boy, because he’s so frustrated, he’s so hostile, he’s so angry when he runs into the wall.” But children are all different. You may have three kids and one of them may be so calm and mild-mannered that they seem like adults at a year old, and the others may seem like little Hitlers.

But that’s not an act of defiance. It’s not an act of rebellion against authority. It has to do with the way he relates to the world around him. So he just needs to grow, needs to mature. He needs to be taught how to relate. The main thing is to make sure, in the meantime, that you don’t create negative vibes between you and him by the way you respond.

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