Youth should be prepared to face unexpected life situations from when they are kids.
Medical Advisor Carolina Carvajal Méndez – Psychologist
Who gets taught how to lose? How many people are raised with the idea that one’s future is a matter of chance or that you have to work hard to achieve your goals? In an era when it is believed that the will to achieve your dreams is enough to accomplish them, it is difficult to raise a generation to be prepared for defeat and ready to deal with failure.
The first thing that needs to be clarified is that tolerance to failure and frustration begins in the first stages of a human’s life, when the child is building their first emotional ties to their mother when they are fed. This is when babies begin making requests and must learn that not all their needs can be satisfied immediately.
“There are some parents, who as soon as their baby begins to cry, they rush to fulfill their need and don’t give the baby a chance to build up tolerance to their frustration: the ability we have to overcome and recover from a circumstance that doesn’t necessarily turn out how we want,” explains psychologist Carolina Carvajal Méndez.
Understanding limits and losing
One tip that our expert shares with us, is to allow them to explore what it means to be unsatisfied at an early age, as this is the way they are going to deal with not knowing what to do about an unmet need, a feeling that repeats throughout life and that everyone experiences at any given moment.
“Whether youth can tolerate frustrations or not, largely depends on parents. This must be done early on, as when they grow up and face frustrations at school, it will be more difficult as they will reach this phase believing and thinking that -in this egocentric phase- they are the only ones that exist, and they will clash with the other kids that are in the same situation. This is when they realize that things aren’t always how they want. This can be avoided by restricting their privileges, saying “no” to some of their requests for gifts and -especially because of the age we live in today- by avoiding raising them as the ones in charge at home and that everyone lives to cave into their every whim,” Méndez adds.
When a child has serious difficulties accepting that the world is not made to cater to their every need, behaviors that they are not well-adjusted can arise such as throwing tantrums, getting into fights with their peers, punching, biting, being rude to authority figures, and having a general attitude of opposition and defiance. When they are taught at an early age to be tolerant, however, they begin developing a proactive and positive response to adversity.
Accepting the world for how it is
“The challenge comes when they become teenagers, a time of many changes. When teens have enough strategies or resources to deal with their frustrations, the is more likely to bounce back. For example, they should be ready for the first time that a girl or group of peers rejects them. When teens cannot deal with their frustrations, they tend to try and overcome them via other means such as through substance abuse and addictions to technology, which is considered high risk behavior,” states Méndez.
Nobody is ever completely ready for this phase, it is the parents’ responsibility to prepare them for the world, however; things are not always what we want them to be. This also helps the child and future teen to create their own world, and have their own safe places, hobbies and interests as well as friends they have things in common with – which will serve as a support during those times when things are not easy to accept.
Teens: Dealing with frustration
- Clinical psychologist Silvia Russek, specialist in behavioral therapy, offers the following suggestions:
- Channel efforts and energy to achieving a different goal.
- Identify the errors or the reasons why it was not possible to reach the objective. Have a plan B that offers another option.
- Avoid repeating mistakes from the past.
- Ignore ideas and beliefs that come to mind such as, “It shouldn’t be this way,” “It’s too much,” “I can’t take it,” or “Everybody else can, why can’t I?” It’s about learning to change erroneous beliefs that only make the problem worse.
- Ask people who are close to you if the emotional reaction to what happened was an exaggerated one. Try to see things from another point of view and reflect on behavior.