Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frustration Tolerance

I know what you are thinking with the title to this post. Me having a zero frustration tolerance due to being a new mom, right? Wrong! Ha, sounds like a good post topic but this one has to do with children having a low or high frustration tolerances.

At 9 months of age, I am beginning to think my daughter is teetering on the low frustration tolerance side. What is a frustration tolerance?

The best way I can describe it is asking yourself how a baby or child can handle things that don't go their way. If they just shrug it off and move onto the next game or toy, I would say they have a high frustration tolerance.  If your child loses a game, and has a complete meltdown and starts crying uncontrollably, it would be safe to say your child probably has a low frustration tolerance. Not necessarily a bad thing, just something to note with their personalities.

Take my daughter for example,  when you take away a toy she is not allowed to play with, i.e. my iPhone, she starts crying and throws her head back and wails. Hmm, I am thinking she is on her way to having that low frustration tolerance.

I've noticed this occurring here and there lately, but it was pretty evident today at her baby music class.  The teacher brought out the fun drums with the colored beads inside, and she was banging and playing on it. But when it came time to 'put the drums away,' I had to pry it from her tiny fingers.  She started crying and wanting to arch her back and head back. Of course while this was occurring, I was using my play therapy language with limit setting: "I know you really want to play with the drums, but it's time to put the drums away until next time.  We are going to play with something else fun now!" But she still cried until we moved onto the next music game.

Of course since I don't like labeling kids, I would never mention this term to her so she doesn't start using it as an excuse or attributing something negative to her.  Besides, these attributes are out of our control as parents. Frustration tolerances are completely caused by temperament.

What exactly is a temperament?

Well basically it's a behavior/disposition that someone is born with. Some define it as: characteristics of a baby and how they respond to the environment, such as fearfulness, irritability, emotionality and sociability.

Babies described as easy going vs. fussy or quiet vs outgoing are attributes that can all be caused by temperament. You hear parents all the time saying "I have one child that is so easy and the other throws fits like no tomorrow!" How amazing it is that children in the same family can be so different? Shows how it's something one is born with and not a reflection of 'parenting techniques'.

My sister and I are great examples of this.  I was the quiet and well behaved child (according to my mother) and my sister was the hyper, getting into trouble child.  Both of us came from the same parents and we were both raised the same, but ended up having such different personalities! You can even look at identical twins and see how different their personalities are- amazing how temperaments can be!

As nice as it would be to have children where troubles just roll off their backs and nothing phases them, we can't all be so lucky.  Besides, having a child with a low frustration tolerance gives them a fun personality and character!  It also shows that my child is reacting to her environment. Which is a good thing :)


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