Have you heard the term ‘frustration tolerance’ before? If you have a small child or work with them, you certainly know all about children struggling with frustrating emotions. Frustration tolerance is the ability to work through a problem, breathe, and figure out a solution.

You see your child trying out a task and not be able to get it to work the way they want to. They get frustrated and ask for help. You oblige because you just hate to see them mad at themselves.

When you see a baby getting frustrated and crying, you want to jump to her rescue and give her that item she’s trying to reach for. When your toddler is working to solve a puzzle, we want the child to get it done and get it done right on the first go. If not, we jump in to fix it for them.

But what is the underlying message we are giving the child every time we do a task for them?

‘I can do it for you, faster than you can, more efficiently than you can.’

How do they learn to do something on their own if they always have help? How do they have a sense of accomplishment if they never go through the trial-and-error process while learning to do something.

The next time the child struggles with something, they’ll just get you to do it for them. That frustration tolerance will dissipate, and they won’t struggle to get to an answer. They will look for instant gratification, instant solutions and that doesn’t come easily and quickly, they won’t mind quitting.

How does that baby learn to move her body to get that item closer to her if you’ll just pass it to her? How does always doing something for your toddler help him when he gets to school and there are several children who need the educator’s attention?

So much in society is already done for us thanks to technology. We don’t need to know basic math because our devices have calculators, or we can just ask the question in the search bar. We don’t need spatial awareness or how to read maps, because Google and Apple have taken away that need. But for your children, where there’s an opportunity to learn frustration tolerance, we should give it to them.

Patience and persistence are two components we all need to deal with frustration, and a certain amount of both will help your child stick with a problem or challenge to find a solution.

At our Stapylton campus, educator Holly Medbury teaches Senior Kindy, where there’s a lot of focus on independence, self-help skills, regulating and becoming aware of emotions, and providing risky and challenging experiences for the children to enable critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

There’s a yard at Stapylton called ‘The Natural Yard’ which has a cubby house, two large tunnels, and a musical xylophone wall. It’s mostly just surrounded by beautiful nature, just for a change where they can explore their imagination.

Frustration Tolerance

“With the two tunnels we encourage two children at a time to climb up the tunnel and sit up the top, which is a big achievement,” Holly says. “This is a challenging/risky play task that we enforce and provide lots of praise, encouragement, strategies if they are struggling to climb up.

Here are some of Holly’s encouraging words she provides with experiences like this:

“You are doing so well! I can see it looks quite tricky, how else do you think you can get up there?”

“Have a look around you and see if there is anything that can help you.”

“You’re doing your best and I’m so proud of you! Maybe you could use your knees going up the tunnel, as I can see there is room for your knees which might make it easier?”

By teaching our children that we can try again and that it’s okay to not get it right away takes some modelling from a parent and educator perspective. By adults modelling frustration in tasks and trying again in front of our children, by saying, “Oh no! It’s not working for me. Let me try again,’ normalises frustration tolerance and tells them that they can try again too. Children with greater frustration tolerance have been shown to grow up to be happier and more successful.


So how do we teach children to be more patient and persistent when it comes to tasks?

Learning patience

  • Help children learn to wait. While they wait, talk to them about what you are doing. For example, you might say, “I’m heating up your lunch right now. Do you know the sound you’ll hear when it’s ready? Beep!
  • Sit on your hands. Literally, if need be! Resist the urge to physically help them complete the task and talk them through it helps your child cope with frustration. When they fall apart, let them know that you appreciate how difficult it can be. “Puzzles are hard! Are you feeling mad that the puzzle piece won’t fit in the space?” This helps your child verbalise feelings and acknowledges you understand they’re frustrated. Talk with them and help them think through solutions without doing the work for them. Suggest or demonstrate strategies for solving whatever problem they are facing. One good idea is to break the challenge into manageable parts: “Why don’t you put your arm in the sleeve first? Then we will work together to get the rest of your shirt on.”
  • Throw in some humour. This can reduce the tension your child feels. For example, you get cross at the block tower that has fallen: “You naughty tower! You’re supposed to stay up! Well, we’re not giving up!”

It’s never too late to encourage your child to try more, do more for themselves, which in turn builds their self-confidence, trust in their own abilities, and sense of self-efficacy.

When a baby or toddler is ready to reduce the number of naps they have each day, or even drop naps altogether, this can be an equally challenging transition for parents!

Daytime naps naturally lessen in length and frequency as a child gets older because they can tolerate more awake time, from both a physiological and neurological perspective as they grow. Circadian rhythms – your 24-hour body clock that helps control your daily schedule for sleep and wakefulness – also mature as sleep begins to consolidate, particularly at night.

Especially for new parents, you may be wondering what some of the signs are that your child is ready to drop a nap. Dropping a nap is a transition that happens over time. Babies need to decrease their number of naps incrementally, but that won’t happen on its own, babies and toddlers still need your guidance to help ease these changes. And our educators are here to help.

Since our educators spend a few days a week with your little one, they have the knowledge of what to look for in signs of tiredness, or readiness to stay awake just a little longer! It’s important to remember that each child is different. What works for one, won’t work for another exactly the same age or way, and this is not a process to rush, small people need their rest!

Here are some signs that may show your little one is ready to drop a nap:

  • Taking a long time to settle at the normal nap time
  • Settling well but waking early from the nap
  • Settling well at one nap but not tired and not sleeping well at the next nap
  • Settling/sleeping well at naps but taking a long time to go to sleep at bedtime in the evening
  • Waking overnight multiple times or waking and staying awake for long periods
  • Waking in the early morning (before 6 AM) and not resettling back to sleep.

“For some children, cutting down their bottles or altering their times they have bottles (obviously age-appropriate) may help with stretching wake windows,” says Hayley, an educator with our Deception Bay campus.

“We aim to wake the child through gentle means, such as hustle and bustle around them to help them wake more naturally, which can help too.”

Hayley says looking at wake windows as a guide for your child can help and you can find free resources and blogs by sleep experts online. But she says keep in mind small children going through leaps and teething may have more difficulty with their sleep, but these adjustments are usually temporary.

Keeara, an educator in the nursery at our Yatala campus says they’ve had some parents request help in stretching their child’s nap to one sleep to transition in the toddler room.

They find play in an outdoor environment during the morning keeps little ones occupied enough to stay awake – but says if their children did fall asleep, it was obviously needed, and educators will try for a short afternoon nap to make up for it.

Fresh air and active fun like sensory activities are a great way to stretch that wake time out a little longer for little ones. Maybe for your child, it’s making music or playing with different textures that will keep him or her engaged and interested just a little longer.

Our Facebook and Instagram channels offer ideas on creative activities our educators do across our campuses to entertain little ones, which can really help stretch out those wake windows.

Like Hayley, Keeara and her fellow educators have also found works is having lunch around 11:30 and putting bottles on the warmer at the same time so they’re ready to go when lunch is finished.


“We’ve found most of the children would have their bottle then self-settle in their cots as they were so exhausted at this point,” Keeara says. “Surprisingly, it worked really well and made the transition smoother, they even slept for a longer period of time having just the one sleep.”

Dropping naps entirely

Then comes the (often dreaded by parents) time when children are ready to drop naps completely.

“We have a fair few two-three-year-olds in our room who have dropped sleep,” says Skye, an educator at our Yatala campus. “The most common sign for them was becoming upset at rest time, moving around a lot and getting up for drinks, toilet and to just tell us something.”

She says even if educators suspect a child is ready to drop naps, they start off with still giving the child a bed, but giving them a quiet activity like books, puzzles, or drawing supplies.

“That way they still have the option to fall asleep if they want to, if they haven’t slept the whole week, we then move them to an activity mat that we keep clear of beds, again for quiet activities while their peers sleep,” Skye says.

Independent play is also important for your child’s development, and it’s central to effective quiet time, so it’s worthwhile implementing it into your older toddler’s daily routine. Quiet time is a time during the day where your child has an opportunity to rest their busy little bodies and minds. The length of quiet time can range anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours, depending upon the child, but consistency in this new quiet time will work wonders for the whole family.

Skye says dropping naps is something they talk to parents about, and from those discussions, they work together on a plan to help the child adjust.

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