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Counselor's Corner Blog by School Counselor Liz Davison

Frustration is no fun.

But it can happen to all of us. We feel frustrated any time something doesn’t go the way we want. Frustration can also be a tricky emotion to categorize. It sometimes feels like anger, sometimes like sadness. Frustration often comes with disappointment, but it’s also shows up when we’re are feeling annoyed, irritated, confused, distracted, impatient, or ignored.

Recently, grade 4 students and I had the opportunity to dig deeper into frustration and learn a technique for how to handle this difficult emotion with the story Zach Gets Frustrated.

  1. Name It — Take the time to stop and say what you are feeling. Since frustration comes in a lot of different flavors, make sure you understand how you (or your child) are feeling in the moment. Also, identify the situation or challenge that is connected to the feeling.
  2. Tame It — Since frustration means that something is not happening the way you want it to, that means you need to do a little problem solving. However, if you are feeling strong emotions (like anger or annoyance) you are not going to be able to solve that challenge very easily. That’s why the second step is to take a moment to get yourself (or help your child) back into a calmer state. MCDS students learn about a variety of self-regulation tools through the Toolkit!
  3. Reframe It — While we don’t have the power to eliminate frustration from our lives, we do have the power to choose how we understand and react when things don’t go our way. Negative self-talk (“I’ll NEVER be able to do this!”), black and white thinking (“I made a mistake and now my whole project is RUINED”), or defeatism (“I can’t do this, I’m just going to give up”) all feed the frustration and help negative emotions and reactions grow. It also makes it more likely that, when you run into this challenge in the future, you will experience more frustration! Instead, challenge yourself (and your child) to assess how you are framing the situation. By choosing a more positive mindset, you will be far more likely to learn how to overcome frustration instead of letting it shut you down.

It’s not possible to eliminate frustration from our day, but we can be better prepared to navigate this feeling and figure out what we need to feel better.


Take care,

Liz Davison
School Counselor, Madison Country Day School

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