9 Answers

My 4yr old daughter “shuts down” whenever she finds anything slightly challenging. She gets frustrated easily. I have spent the past year trying to get her to give things another go and understanding some things take practice.

Posted anonymously, 3rd April 2016

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  • I just read Raising Resilient Children : Fostering Strength, Hope, and Optimism in Your Child. It had some good tips in it as well.

  • I think it’s very common in children around this age (I’m going through it myself) but with age it will hopefully ease and she will get more patient.

  • My child was the same when she was 2 years old. We exposed her more to kids who were older than her and she learned a lot from them and copied them. When she gets frustrated before, she usually throws away her toys or pushes it away. She is now 3 and I spoke to her that if she can’t do something, she should voice it out instead or even a small grunt then ask mum or dad for help. I explained to her that there are things that are too hard for her which is pk and she eventually got it.

    I hope this helps even a little bit.

  • Never put her down when she attempts something and always be there if she needs help, but don’t offer your help until the very last resort.

  • It might sound a bit odd, but making day to day tasks harder for her (as in don’t open the banana/drink/tin, don’t tie her laces/hair, don’t butter toast etc) might help. Even if she asks for help or gets cross/tantrum, just calmly ask her to try again before you will do it for her. She will still get the help if needed, but will get used to trying again too. I know its hard, but it works – mine was the same. Your patience will pay off – even if it doesn’t feel like it!!

  • Does she find the task of interest? Maybe she isn’t interested in the task at hand and once she finds something she enjoys she will keep at it.

  • I see the resilience problem is to do with ‘having another go’ or trying/effort. I guess it is important to say and do things that show having a go is important – more important than succeeding. If children are driven to keep trying they may get the message that they have to master something, not just have a go. Maybe relax the pressure and just let her get on with it for a few weeks, praising every effort, in every realm of activity. There may be things she is persevering with that just aren’t obvious or being noticed – reward those efforts; and maybe she needs a break before trying something again that you want her to do, so she might not have another go immediately. Perhaps after a break – minutes, hours or days – you can help restore interest in the task you are interested in her doing by ‘having a go’ yourself and see if her interest drifts back to it. Perhaps you can ask her to help you and see if that motivates her to re-engage with something she would normally give up with.

  • It might take a bit of time, Is your child able to express themselves the way want to so they can get their reasoning acros for not wanting to try it again? I know with my son he had melt downs heaps when he was younger as he couldnt express himself when he wanted to. It turns out it wasnt that he didnt want to do it, but couldnt get across what the problem was or know what words to use to ask for help when needed. Once he gained confidence and the ability to talk better and express himself more things started to improve…

  • Every child will be different and resilience is so many things – bouncing back from something negative in society, to determination in personal failure or coping with bullying. There might be something specific that you can do depending what the issue is but I think the general advice is ensuring the child has a supportive close relationship with parent (and others), setting an example in stressful situations and show they are just problems to be solved,with lots of exiting possibilities and you are in control to choose your best option. Accepting the circumstance and doing the best with it yourself will make you a great role model as you provide a consistent close relationship with the child.

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