Children and adolescents, can they tolerate frustration?

The frustration is a feeling of deprivation of a real or perceived vital satisfaction. In the case of adults, we can feel frustrated when we are in a job search process and we do not find it. But how do children show frustration? Our children have 3 ways to deal with frustration and parents can help them to manage it correctly.

Teenagers may feel frustrated when their parents establish a series of rules and conditions regarding departure times. Or a child who is an only child may feel frustrated if his mother becomes pregnant. When his brother is born, frustration can be transformed into behaviors with jealous and even aggressive components.


Frustration is an object of interest in various disciplines, specifically in Education and in Psychology in general because the requirement and lack of flexibility are signs of intolerance to frustration in children. In the words of María Díaz, psychologist at Blua de Sanitas, the frustration can be detected from some signs: "children with low tolerance to frustration are demanding and demanding and they seek to satisfy their needs immediately, manifesting "tantrums" and disconsolate crying. They are not very flexible in the face of changes and develop symptoms of anxiety or low mood more easily than other children. "

3 ways to cope with frustration


Some professionals who treat frustration argue that there are three ways to externalize and deal with this situation.

1. Execute aggressive behavior which can cause fits of anger against the object that causes the frustration. An example to understand this type of response is when a child can scratch or stretch another child's hair because he is playing with "his" toy, which he perceives is a threat generating feelings of anger and anxiety.

2. Develop a flight behavior. The child can perform avoidance behaviors of the stimulus that causes frustration. As a result, the child will learn to escape situations that can cause different uncomfortable emotions without facing them properly and generating a cluster of frustrations during their emotional, intellectual and physical growth.

3. Replace any frustrating situation. When the child is living a situation perceived as frustrating, what he does is exchange it for another that does not produce the feeling of discomfort or anguish.


According to the experts who defend these three modalities, it is recommended to apply the substitution, since with the other two it is not possible to solve the problem or that it disappears generating consequences in the psychological health in the short and medium term.

How can we teach children to manage frustration?

You have to bear in mind that the frustration, like any other emotion, we can not pretend that children do not feel it. In addition, it is not advisable to question or reprimand when the child is facing a frustrating situation for him.

Therefore, we must bear in mind the following guidelines:

1. Accept, respect and understand the child's frustration.

2. Establish norms and limits Although they cause frustration to our children, it is necessary for an adequate emotional and physical development. In this way, they learn that not everything they want will be achieved, developing acceptance and controlling their attention in other affordable objectives.

3. Teach them techniques to manage "tantrums" when they occur, not yielding to them. Respect the time that this tantrum lasts without any type of reinforcement to later approach him, to establish a dialogue from the tranquility. As a consequence, the child will learn that with anger he will not get anything he wants.

To conclude, the following words of Maria Diaz invite reflection on the confrontation of frustration in our children: "If we find that our child is a child with low tolerance to frustration as parents we can redirect that situation, we can reeducate the child so that little by little he learns to manage it.

First, it would be convenient to analyze what could have led to this situation since it is possible that there were no clear or precise limits and a solution would have to be found. Secondly, it is necessary to help the child differentiate between his desires and needs, making him understand that you can not always have what you want when you want, as well as teach him to tolerate the delay of reinforcement or get what he wants; if he asks me for something, not give it to him immediately, but when he can or as an adult he considers it appropriate and explain when he will have it or why he will not have it ".

Ángel Bernal Caravaca. Psychologist and Mediator Cofounder of Lomber Soluciones Cyberbullying

Video: Rethinking Challenging Kids-Where There's a Skill There's a Way | J. Stuart Ablon | TEDxBeaconStreet


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