Originally Posted by umami_mommy
i guess i just need to learn to better address the issues that drive the impatience. the fear/anxiety that things won't happen the way he wants/needs them to happen is probably the biggest motivator to his horrible impatience. maybe if i get better at identifying that and helping him deal better with *those* feelings, it will help him be a bit more zen.
I think you're onto something here. One thing we learned with dd was that her anxiety (didn't even have to be anxiety about whether or not things would happen how/when she wanted, but could be) really decreased her level of frustration tolerance. The impatience when things didn't happen when she wanted really was just her inability to tolerate the frustration of not getting what she wanted immediately. I mean, anyone who is already stressed/tense is going to have a harder time handling frustration well. In order to increase her frustration tolerance we had to address the anxiety-she had to learn coping skills in order to reduce the anxiety she felt, she had to learn to communicate her feelings, she had to learn to relax and to calm down, she had to learn better problem solving skills. We worked hard at reducing stress overall, and building time into the day to relax and to specifically teach relaxation skills.
Also, are you certain you've identified all his underlying issues, triggers, and lagging skills? We found that when we got stuck wrt a given issue, it was usually because there were things that had to be addressed that we had not yet identified.
That said, we also had to address impatience as it was happening. Sometimes she could be distracted, I still use this strategy-"sure, I'll make those pancakes for you! Hey, can you go find the flour for me? I'll be right there." Things like that. Maybe we'd talk about something interesting, or she'd find something relaxing to do. Didn't always work, but it was always worth a try.
Also, empathy in very few words (ONE time) helped her learn to express herself. "You're frustrated. You're hungry right now." We'd give her ONE reassurance: "I will cook breakfast as soon as I am finished getting dressed. I'm almost done." And then we worked very hard at remaining calm and matter-of-fact while she was upset. We'd just go about the business of doing whatever needs to be done, getting dressed before heading downstairs to cook or whatever, as calmly as possible, without doing a lot of talking about her impatience or tantrum. She needed to know, I think, that she'd get through it and be fine--and we showed that by being calm and confident (that she would be fine) ourselves in that moment. If she's flipping out and anxious, we need to be her rock and her zen. KWIM? And if we drew too much attention to her impatience (too many words, too much empathy, too much talking about it, too much asking her to calm down or be patient), then we sort of fed that frustration and anxiety. It sort of sends the message that "hey, this really is something bad and scary" and makes her even more anxious.
All that said, we did find that there were times when learning to cope was particularly hard for dd. At those times we did use rewards for brief periods of time. And it did work quite well with the collaborative approach we were using. I preferred to have dd design her system. She currently, for example, has a chart that she made. She puts a star on it every time she tries one of the new coping skills she's learning. She sets a goal of how many stars she'll need in order to do something special and fun. This does two things for her: 1) it gives her a visual way of tracking her own progress, which can be very helpful for a kid struggling with something as huge as anxiety and 2) it gives her a goal to work for, which helps her find the motivation when the anxiety is so overwhelming that it's very hard to even try to cope. I wouldn't write off this kind of strategy completely. It can be done with respect for the child, and with the child's collaboration. For example, in terms of impatience I could see having a chart that you can point to and say "hey, look at that! Waiting is hard for you but you did it! Twice already today you tried to wait/waited/found something to do to help make waiting easier." Because it is
hard, and even 7 year olds can sometimes benefit from a visual showing of their effort and progress. JME, of course, and I offer it as someone who used to be solidly against rewards of any kind just in case it might be helpful.
Oh, and yeah for my dd having a written schedule for the day helped a lot. She does better overall when she knows what to expect and (roughly) when.