by Beth Frook
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” -Aesop
Noah (2 1/2) stacks blocks, and the third or fourth one falls off repeatedly.
Amelia (3 1/2) struggles to pull her sock over her heel and all the way on.
Jamie (1) wants something across the room, and can’t name it, so points and screams.
We’ve all been in the presence of a child who is struggling to learn something. We’ve all BEEN in that position ourselves as learning adults, as well! (For me it usually has to do with new skills on my computer or smart phone! :)) It is through persistent trying and help from “experts” that allow us to master new skills and accomplish tasks. The process can cause frustration, and we can increase our tolerance for frustration with practice and patience. It is a character trait that helps us learn and grow!
Persistent practice, and a healthy level of tolerance for frustration are required as one builds skill. We can support our children to learn and grow by allowing them to try new things, giving them time to practice and encouraging them to keep trying when they become frustrated.
“Can you try to balance the block in the middle, Noah?”
“Amelia, look! You got it over your toes! How ’bout I hold this part and you pull that part over your heel?”
“Oh, is it the blue car you want to play with, Jamie? No? Can you show me which one? Let’s get closer. The red car is what you want to play with!”
There are words to support and encourage that give space for learning to happen. If we jump in too fast to “fix it” or do it for our child every time, we keep them from experiencing the satisfaction of trying hard and learning something.
The emerging independence that is within every child needs time and space to grow. Try to set aside time for practicing skills, or build in a cushion in your schedule for your child to be able to “do it myself!” Try to resist the urge to jump in too soon. Saving our child from that little bit of frustration while they practice new tasks can sometimes send a message that we don’t think they are capable. Take a breath and use encouragement, or small suggestions to support them as they learn.
This skill will certainly serve them well as they face learning challenges through out their lives.
Next time, let’s talk about specific responses to frustration: Flyers, Cryers, Sighers and Tryers.