Frustrations are part of growing up
To get straight to the point: for your child, frustrations are part of growing up. While a baby is completely dependent on their parents, a pre-toddler is developing into a separate, independent person. And that growing up and developing into an independent person can frustrate your child.
Of course, a pre-toddler still needs their parents, but they do develop their own preferences and interests. And on top of that: pre-toddlers and toddlers want to ‘do everything themselves’. And your little one cannot always manage that ‘doing everything themselves’ straight away and that can lead to frustration!
Dealing with “setbacks”
You may think that your sweet little son or daughter is being headstrong when they want to make their own sandwich and the peanut butter lands on the table instead of on the bread, but that ‘willfulness’ is a sign that your child is getting bigger and feels secure enough to at least give it a try. These types of frustration are part of life, but too many ‘setbacks’ are not good for a child’s self-confidence. Your child may get angry when they do not succeed in making their own sandwich. If you support them and give them compliments, their self-confidence will only increase. Instead of putting energy into frustration they will put their energy into learning something new!
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It’s up to me
Is broccoli on the menu and your little one does not particularly like it? Then you run the risk that they will clamp their mouth shut during your evening meal. If you force them to take a bite, they will enjoy refusing all the more. This ‘willful’ behavior demonstrates that your child is becoming their own independent person. Of course, your child needs to learn that sometimes they have to eat things they are not that keen on, but to avoid the battle as much as possible you can let your child choose. By allowing your child to choose for themselves, they feel they can maintain control of the situation, and that leads to less frustration. Let your child choose whether you will dish up the broccoli or let them do it themselves. Do they want to eat using their green or blue cutlery? And let them decided whether or not they want cheese sauce on the broccoli.
Children are interested in other children. But you have to learn how to ‘play together’. If your child sees their little cousin with an interesting car, then the only thing that goes through their mind is: “I want that too.” Pre-toddlers and toddlers often still lack the verbal ability to ask nicely if they can play with the car. The consequence of that may be that your little one simply takes the car off the other child. That is of course not the aim, but it may help you understand your child better when you know this behavior can arise because they still cannot verbalize their wishes well enough. And that can really frustrate a child! Help your child by naming their feelings. For example, you could say: “I understand that you would like to play with the car too; it’s a really nice car. But Tim is playing with it at the moment.” It is important to understand that pre-toddlers and toddlers still need to develop many social skills. And who better to help them with that than their parents.
I can’t do it!
Are bits of the train track flying through the room? Then perhaps your child is unable to lay the train track by themselves, even though they would really like to do it themselves! Or is your pre-toddler going red in the face from the effort of trying to take off their shoes, but it is not working? Once again: a bit of frustration is part of life, but too much frustration can have an adverse effect. If your child is continually unsuccessful at laying the train track or taking off their shoes, they will give up trying after a while. The solution is to help your child with the train track or undo the Velcro on their shoes so they succeed in getting them off. This will reduce the amount of frustration your child feels.
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