Four Simple Ways to Help the Easily Frustrated Child
kids are naturally easy-going, compliant, and adaptable. With very little input
from you, they come home from school, sit right down, and do their homework. If
they encounter a problem they can’t solve, or read a passage they don’t
understand, they’re able to ask for help. Other kids are not as even-keeled.
Their moods are quick to change, their tempers are volatile, and they are
easily frustrated. They often complain that their homework is too hard or too
boring. If they encounter difficulties before you have a chance to intervene,
they have a meltdown. Their low frustration tolerance makes homework a
battleground. If you have an easily
frustrated child, here are a few simple measures to break the cycle of homework
Tip #1 – Begin With
When it’s time to begin homework, help her
number the assignments in the order in which they’ll be completed. The first
item on her to-do list should be the assignment perceived to be the easiest or
most liked. For example, if your mathematically-inclined child comes home with
spelling, math, and reading homework, tackle the math assignment first. This
simple strategy puts kids in the right frame of mind from the start. They are
less likely to procrastinate and are in a positive mindset when they approach
harder assignments later on.
Tip #2 – Break work Down into chunks
Use Post-it arrow flags. Place one at the
starting point and another part way through the assignment. Explain, “All you
have to do is start here and end there. Show me your work when you’re done.”
Visual learners especially like this approach.
your child to get started. Observe the completion of the first item so that you
are sure it is done accurately. Then, set the timer for anywhere from six to
sixteen minutes (it’s more interesting than five to fifteen). Encourage your
child to work as hard as possible during this brief time to get over the hump.
color. Color code the symbols in math (red for addition, blue for subtraction,
green for division, etc.). Start with the “green” problems or give a choice of
the bottom portion of the worksheet or put an index card over the more
difficult problems. Complete only the visible part first.
Tip #3 – Take A Break From Power Struggles
What should you do when you realize that a
disagreement is becoming a power struggle? Extricate yourself ASAP by taking a
quick break. Use these words:
“Let’s take a 30 minute break. I’ll be back
at 2:34 pm.” Be specific about time.
“We’re both upset. Let’s grab a quick snack
and then talk about a compromise.”
Tip #4 – form a Checklist
Some children need and crave more structure
than others. Parents of these youngsters often find that daily routines,
rewards, and consequences are just the ticket to good behavior. In other words,
your child should always know what to expect and should be clear about
incentives and consequences even before she begins schoolwork. You can do this
by creating a homework checklist.
First, think about what you want your child
to do and narrow the list down to two to four homework-related tasks. Now,
determine what it will take to motivate your child. For many kids, it’s “screen
time” — the use of the computer, cell phone, and video games. If you are going
to use screen time or another privilege as a reward, be sure it’s not available
at any other time during the day. Finally, record any other rules below the
You can come up with your own ideas, but
remember, that once your child earns the reward, you cannot take it away. For
example, if she earns 30 minutes of screen time, but then hits her sister, I don’t
recommend taking the earned privilege away. Instead, consider another
consequence such as a time out. Children are more likely to follow through with
incentive programs if they know their “winnings” won’t be withheld.
With creativity and a whole lot of patience,
you can put your easily frustrated child on the road to academic success.
Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., is the founder and
president of Educational Connections, Inc., a comprehensive provider of
educational services (ectutoring.com). Check out her award-winning book, Homework
Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions for Stress-Free Homework