Frustration is probably the number one reason side effect of communication difficulties. It is a word we see all the time when receiving new referrals for support.
But what can we do about it?
When I first met Jude he would easily get frustrated and it caused a lot of concern for his family and staff at school. I worked with Jude’s Mum Jessica, to work out different ways that might help.
Here are three tips for supporting a frustrated child:
Tip 1 – Validate their feelings
To begin with, Jessica made sure she let Jude know she could see he was feeling frustrated. She reassured him that it was ok to feel frustrated, upset or cross and that it was normal to feel that way. Jude wasn’t yet ready to understand and talk about his feelings but when Jessica labelled his frustration he did tune in to her intonation and this helped him to feel heard. Jessica didn’t try to move him on or talk to him too much, but she did stay close by for when he was feeling calmer again.
Tip 2 – Teach alternative means of communication
When we don’t have or we can’t find the words to express our wants, ideas and feelings we can all get frustrated. What usually helps is having other forms of communication to fall back on. Jessica and I discussed situations where we might find it easier to point or hold something up, or perhaps write/type something down. Children who are emerging communicators might find objects, pictures, or some simple sign language easier to access when their words are still developing. Jessica and Jude learnt some signs for ‘no’ and ‘help’ and they also picked out key objects and pictures that Jude could refer to throughout the day. Helping him to use these alternative methods sometimes prevented the frustrations from occurring in the first place, but they were also easier for him to use when he was already feeling frustrated.
Tip 3 – Be patient and supportive
This final tip seemed simple enough, but actually it was hardest to implement. When Jude was having day after day feeling frustrated, the crying and the kicking seemed to have no end. Jessica found it hard to maintain a positive outlook and would be tempted to raise her own voice rather than stay calm. Staff at school also found it hard work, although they could rotate among each other to provide the calming support for Jude to mirror back. But when they started to see progress with Jude’s communication skills they could see how things were going to improve.
Following these 3 tips helped Jessica and Jude, and staff at Jude’s school to navigate the frustrations of not being able to communicate clearly. By persevering, they came out the other side and Jude became more confident at communicating his wants and needs before frustration kicked in.
For more ideas and tips while waiting for therapy, make sure you explore our free YouTube channel, where we have over 100 videos uploaded so far!
Click here >>> https://www.youtube.com/@AllAboutSpeechTherapy/