3 simple steps to calm your frustrated child

Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

Photo by Harald Groven on Flikr

"Help me to do it myself"

is often used as a slogan in Montessori centres, because it's the plea of young children everywhere.

The child, through their actions, tells us over and over they want to do things for themselves and that they experience enormous frustration when they are restricted in their efforts. 

Where do we start to help our young children to do things themselves? It's not always practical is it?

So how can we minimise their frustrations and help them on their journey toward independence and help ourselves too?

Well let's get started:


Create a work-space specifically designed to meet the needs of your young child.

  • Ensure there is enough child-height open shelving and comfortable child-sized table and chairs.

Then we begin the process:

  • Clear out the clutter - be ruthless

  • Remove everything that's broken or incomplete

  • Evaluate what's left, too easy? too hard? Remove and store

  • Find trays/containers/baskets for each item on the shelf

  • Make sure each activity is complete and the tools (such as scissors) are efficient and the correct size for the child to use

Now you are ready to create some activities. I'll start by giving a few examples of activities that provide your child with the opportunity to develop, refine and enjoy the skills of everyday life. :

  • Make practise examples of the things your child is trying to master such as spooning, pouring (dry or liquid depending on age/ motor development), cutting a banana, putting on their shoes or brushing hair

  • Think carefully about the skills of the child and ensure the activities are within the child's capabilities.

  • To maximise the child's chance of success each new skill or activity is introduced by first showing the child how to do it (sit beside the child not opposite them) and where to replace it.

  • Store the new activity on a shelf easily accessible to the child so they can choose and use this activity at a time of their choosing and repeat it as often as they wish.

You can replicate this approach with almost any activity/toy.