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January 30, 2024

Skills To Improve Low Frustration Tolerance In Children

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In Philly's vibrant streets, Ilexis Elba, a seasoned BCBA, witnesses a familiar battle: kids versus frustration. This article charts a course through triggers, tantrums, and triumphs, powered by ABA, practical tips, and Elba Behavior Solutions' wisdom. Buckle up, parents, and prepare to equip your tiny explorers with the resilience to navigate frustration.

In the bustling urban landscape of Philadelphia, Ilexis Elba, a seasoned Board Certified Behavior Analyst and owner of Elba Behavior Solutions, encounters a wide spectrum of childhood behaviors daily. One of the most pervasive issues? Low frustration tolerance—a challenge not unique to the City of Brotherly Love but resonant with families and educators across the globe. This article delves into the strategies and wisdom culled from years of practice, offering a beacon of hope and practical advice for navigating the stormy seas of childhood frustrations.

Part 1: Understanding Frustration Tolerance in Children

Developmental Stages

Childhood development is a complex, nuanced journey, with frustration tolerance evolving at each stage. From toddlers grappling with language barriers to teenagers facing academic pressures, understanding the expected milestones of emotional regulation provides crucial context for parents and caregivers.

Common Triggers

Life’s daily challenges can often trigger frustration in children. Whether it’s the struggle of tying shoelaces or the disappointment of a canceled playdate, recognizing these triggers allows for preemptive strategies to manage reactions effectively.

Identifying Signs of Frustration

The subtleties of a child’s frustration can manifest in various ways, from the overt tantrums of a toddler to the sullen withdrawal of a teenager. Educating caregivers to identify these signs early paves the way for timely intervention and support.

Improving Low Frustration Tolerance In Kids

Part 2: Building Frustration Tolerance Through ABA

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

At the heart of Applied Behavior Analysis lies the Functional Behavior Assessment—a tool as critical as a compass for navigating the reasons behind a child’s behavior. Understanding the ‘why’ is the first step in crafting an effective, personalized strategy.

Positive Reinforcement

The power of positive reinforcement cannot be overstated. A well-timed word of encouragement or a small reward for a job well done can fortify a child’s resolve to face frustrating tasks head-on.


Sometimes, the path to progress involves the strategic withdrawal of attention from undesirable behaviors—a technique known as extinction. This approach requires patience and consistency, with the guidance of a skilled behavior analyst.

Differential Reinforcement

Differential reinforcement teaches children the value of choosing more appropriate responses to frustration. This method not only reduces undesirable behaviors but also promotes positive alternatives.

Skill Acquisition

The acquisition of key skills such as problem-solving, communication, and emotional regulation is vital. These social skills arm children with the tools they need to navigate the complexities of their emotions and the world around them.

Low Frustration Tolerance Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Part 3: Tips for Parents and Caregivers

Setting Realistic Expectations

Tailoring expectations to a child’s developmental stage can significantly reduce unnecessary frustrations. Understanding what is reasonable to expect provides a foundation for growth and learning.

Creating a Nurturing Environment

A supportive environment acts as a buffer against the harsh edges of frustration. Offering empathy, understanding, and encouragement nurtures a child’s sense of security and self-worth.

Modeling Effective Coping Strategies

Children learn how to handle frustration by watching the adults in their lives. Demonstrating positive coping mechanisms—such as deep breathing, seeking help, or using positive self-talk—equips children with practical strategies for managing their emotions.

Providing Opportunities for Practice

Like any skill, managing frustration requires practice. Creating safe, controlled scenarios where children can face challenges and practice their coping strategies prepares them for real-life situations.

Collaboration with Professionals

No one navigates the journey of raising a child in isolation. Collaborating with behavior analysts and other professionals ensures a support network for tailored advice and strategies, enhancing the child’s ability to cope with frustration.


Fostering frustration tolerance in children is a journey paved with challenges, learning, and growth—for both the child and their support network. By understanding the nature of frustration, applying behavior analysis principles, and employing practical strategies, parents and caregivers can guide children toward healthier emotional regulation and resilience. In the heart of Philadelphia and beyond, the work of professionals like Ilexis Elba and the support of engaged caregivers light the path toward a future where children are equipped to navigate life’s frustrations with grace and strength.

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