341. Frustration

It’s nice when you can do what you’re trying to do. Sometimes it’s so easy that you don’t even think about it, but sometimes it takes a lot of effort, and when you succeed, you get a really good feeling inside. Maybe other people notice your success, and congratulate you, maybe not. For some people, that doesn’t matter so much; you can congratulate yourself. The whole experience leaves you with a good feeling, and the next time you’re faced with difficulty, maybe you’ll remember the sweet taste of hard-earned success.
But that’s not what this article is about. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t work. Maybe you’ve seen other people do what you’re trying to do, and they’ve made it look easy. Maybe the only people you’ve seen have trouble with it are people you haven’t yet learned to admire. And so you’re frustrated, and you become one of those people you haven’t yet learned to admire.
Frustration itself can be a learning disability. Why try to learn something if you’ve already tried and it’s apparent to you that it doesn’t work? When you stop trying, at least you can sort of stop failing. Nothing ventured, nothing lost.
Watching children, it’s easy to see how hard they’re trying, but it’s also easy not to see it. You had to learn what they’re trying to learn, but you learned it so long ago that you may have forgotten how hard it was. You probably think of tying your shoes as one thing to do, but if you haven’t
learned how to do it, it’s many things to do.
Physical disability is reteaching me about the frustration involved in learning how to do “simple” tasks. Lately, I’ve been applying one of my teaching strategies to myself: if a task seems too difficult, I break it up into its component tasks, start small, and mentally celebrate the
accomplishment of each subtask. This takes longer, but I’m not goin’ anywhere; as I’ve told you in other articles, I’ve got time (I hope I haven’t rubbed that in too much; I know most of you don’t have as much time as you’d like. Sorry.).
Many children need to hear that they, too, have time. And they need to believe it, and be patient with themselves. If other people aren’t modelling that patience for them, it can be extra hard to learn. When children are surrounded by people who are all rushing to get to step two, having
difficulty with step one can be much more frustrating than it has to be. Children can be rushed into despair.
So be patient. Some of you may be thinking, that’s easy for you to say. You aren’t goin’ anywhere. We ARE, and if kids don’t hurry up, we’ll be late. I know
about that; I haven’t forgotten. So I’m not suggesting that you try to learn patience all at once; that can be frustrating. But try a little now and then.

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