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extreme fussing and frustration

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  • extreme fussing and frustration

    Sometimes my 2 1/2 year old daughter gets upset or anxious about something- usually when she is playing when she is tired like early morning (which she used to not be cranky in the morning before she stopped taking an afternoon nap but that's a whole other issue). She will get something in her head like a barbie's hair is too messy, yet despite every effort on her and my part we cannotget it good enough for her and she gets frustrated and upset and she fusses angrily at me to get it right. Sometimes she can't figure out how to word exactly how she wants something, even though she is extremely verbal, and gets frustrated with me, and sometimes what she wants done is just impossible like something won't fit the way she wants it to. She fusses and whines and gets upset. I've tried teaching her to take deep breaths, make a bunny face, etc to help her relax but she wants no part of that. Sometimes if I tickle her I can get her to [I]start [I]to loosen up and eventually get past it. Other times I don't know what else to do but tell her that I cannot help her when she is speaking to me that way and stop helping or walk away. But that really upsets her. Does anyone have any ideas for helping/teaching her to handle her frustration? In other situations when she is not locking into frustration she speaks politely, or at least she does when we ask her to, so she does understand that she needs to speak politely.

  • #2
    Originally posted by mommakikiz View Post
    In other situations when she is not locking into frustration she speaks politely, or at least she does when we ask her to, so she does understand that she needs to speak politely.
    this is key b/c in these situations she is NOT frustrated. you can't expect her to apply her politeness in situations where she IS frustrated b/c when she gets to that point, her reasoning skills are clouded and her brain is functioning typically. the frustration creates stress and releases hormones that inhibit her reasoning. it's the same as when you or i get angry and sometimes we say/do things we wouldn't otherwise. our judgment is clouded by our anger.

    this is developmental, she will eventually be able to make better choices through frustration, and not get frustrated so easily, but toddlers and young children all seem to go through this, although at varying degrees of severity.

    i think the best thing to do is empathize "i see you're really upset by this. i want to help you and am trying my best. let's try to work together to solve this." sometimes moving to another location helps. getting away from the stress and calming down before going back to it can work. say, 'let's go have a snack and then come back and work on this.'

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    • #3
      She does sound like she is having a so-called 'tantrum'.--A period of strong emotion that is hard to get out of or connect through.
      Here are some links that might be interesting to you.

      Cry for Connection: A Fresh Approach to Tantrums
      By Patty Wipfler


      Terrible Twos? NOT!

      You should look into NVC also (Non-violent communication)

      Its very frustrating, I know! My 15mo old already has moments just like you describe!...but my 4yr old has a totally different personality and only recently gets those overwhelming emotion times!

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      • #4
        I am learning now, with dd2 that the best way to diffuse this frustration is to empathize, and over empathize... "wow that is so frustrating!" "sheesh, what is wrong with that crazy girl's hair"... talk to the doll "Hey you miss barbie, what is wrong with your hair?". "have you ever seen hair like this that doesn't work?"... this really works too when dd is sad... to say "wow you are so sad"... it just seems to diffuse..

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        • #5
          Thank you ladies for your ideas! I have done some of them myself, but your ideas give me variations that might work better. Like I have used empathy, but maybe if I try the over-empathizing and talk to Barbie that might work. She does like it when I make her Dora toothbrush talk to her and it gets us through the otherwise completely unwanted task of brushing. And I try to get her to take a break from the barbies, I suggest other activities, etc. but she gets so locked in that I can't break her out. But maybe if I say let's go eat and then come back to her hair maybe that would work. She does seem to have some understanding of the fact that sometimes she gets fussy and tired when she really just needs to eat. I will also check out those links. Thanks!

          Sometimes she is genuinely frustrated- like you said- and cannot handle her emotions. Other times she has the capability to control the way she speaks and needs to know that she has to choose the polite way. Today she was pretty fussy at different times throughout the day and I kind of devoted the day to being really aware of the way she speaks to me and made sure to consistently and calmly talk to her about her whining tone of voice and her freaking out or getting upset over really simple things that all she'd have to do is ask me calmly and I'd gladly help her. I've been working on it with her lately but today I decided to really be consistent all day long and she seemed to really get the point after a while. Some of it is behavioral- she learned from infancy on that when she fussed she got my attention. Now I need to show her there is a better way.
          Last edited by mommakikiz; 01-19-2009, 08:01 PM.

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          • #6
            I just read that article and it was VERY interesting! It makes a lot of sense to me. I forwarded it to my husband so we can discuss trying to look at tantrums that way and handling them that way! Thanks!

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