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Validating frustration with feeling small & powerless
For when kids get frustrated over things they can’t do yet
Quick Things You Need To Know:
The tantrum collection helps us discuss non-violent ways to vent when we get overwhelmed
The anxiety book list discusses ways to manage anxiety which can develop from being perpetually overwhelmed by frustrating things we can’t control
Frustration comes from a combination of knowing something is possible (or at least believing it’s possible or knowing that someone else can do it), feeling an urgency to get it done, but not having the capability to get there.
Frustration is often an issue of learning new skills. So we can work on 1. building those skills so they are more capable, 2. reducing the feeling of urgency (cultivating patience), or 3. building knowledge – helping kids understand the difference between challenges (which can be overcome) and circumstances (which you just gotta accept and move around).
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Quick & Messy Book List:
Book about circumstances (building knowledge)
Truman (Reidy) – nicely complex for such a simple story. From Truman’s POV, an adorable turtle. it’s just so cute and charming and a little funny. both 5 & 7 (together) adored it. would work great for first day of school anxiety BUT doesn’t introduce it as something to be nervous about. so cute! when things seem impossible, he finds a way (although the reader can tell that his efforts were basically futile). and keeps going even though things seem scary. courage.
Books about limitations on ability (building capability)
Validating books for frustrated kids who want to do things but are still too little or unable to do them yet.
Cloudette – she’s too small to do anything big or important until she gets blown to a far off place and turns a dry puddle to a vernal pool for frogs and stuff. honestly I don’t know why she had to get blown away to do this, and I don’t know why she got turned down for other jobs when she clearly has a ton of water in her. whatever. the illustrations were cute , but the message is foggy (I made a joke. get it?) really cute book for 2.5+ about frustrations over being small and not being able to do much until you are big, then finding a task that you can handle. enjoyed at 3.9, starting to age out at 6. lots of benefits of being little. eventually finds a project she feels strongly enough about that
- Serena, The Littlest Sister: I’ve been searching for a great book about the Williams sisters (so many bland duds) and FINALLY this showed up. This fits in nicely while also refusing to ignore the fact that there are MORE THAN TWO Williams sisters – and they are all valuable and important.
- stacey coolidge’s fancy smancy cursive handwriting
- My Do It (Asquith) This is similar to All By Myself by Aliki, but more engaging, more durable, and not as long and comprehensive. And this one has flaps! Ages 2-4
Books about urgency (building patience)
The Most Magnificent Thing – spires – Q really enjoyed this at 6.5, more than he enjoyed it before. better able to get the little jokes and details. R2 was okay for a read at 4.5. tenacity, perseverance, main theme is how frustration makes you less productive and angry, and how you need to take a break to get past it.
Whistle for willie – keats – both 4.5 nand 6.5 loved this , particularly the 4.5. they love seeing peter (tihs looks like maybe a season or even a year or two after snowy day) have the same issues they have – getting dizzy when spinning around, putting on daddy’s hat and trying to trick mom into believing it’s him, trying to whistle. so cute. #BrownBoyJoy, being too little to do some things, and having to be patient and keep practicing. good for when kids are frustrated over not being able to do things right away
bah! said the baby – for kids with developing language who are frustrated with being misunderstood. Best for infants and toddlers, as pulling this out to for an older kid with a speech disorder might be infantilizing. validating for 1-2yo to see they’re not alone, board book
Tell me what it’s like to be big – dunbar – sweet, for siblings. little sibling asks if she will be able to do all the things her big brother can do when she’s big like him, and as an outsider we see how he takes care of her so patiently and gently, but also that he’s still small himself. ages 3-6
Stories that show kids that even though they are small and can’t do some things yet – there are lots of powerful things they can do.
Problematic – Not Recommended
No Biggy (Rubin) – PROBLEMATIC. got for dealing with frustration and mistakes/accidents at 5 & 7, but this was the opposite of what we needed. starts out okay, she drops toothpaste and her mom is like no biggie, so she tries again and it’s fine. goes on for a few examples of things that affect only her and she recovers with her pants saying ’no biggy’ which is where we hit our first problem – she needs an adult to tell her when it’s no biggy before she can deal with her frustration. by the end she’s dealing with her mistakes on her own, but the nature of these mistakes changes and I’m not okay with it. the first one is where a Black boy in her class has a tantrum and violently destroys a group block project. note that in her previous frustration examples, she’s non-violent (she grunts, throws a jacket on the floor, and calls for her mom). so this white girl has nonviolent reactions, but of all the deliberately racially diverse kids in her class, the black boy is the one who loses it, and physically. she white-saviors him and calms him down, solves the problem, because apparently he can’t manage this on his own without her whiteness to tame him. note how all of her mistakes affect only her, but th Black boy’ outburst feels violent and affects an entire class. From there – the protagonist rips a school book. she blurts “no biggy!’ tapes it without permission, and the teacher thanks her for teaching the class a lesson about no biggies. I’d MUCH rather she ASK the teacher who owns the book how she wants it handled, particularly since a big peeve of librarians is people trying to fix their own ripped library books, using the wrong tape and generally further damaging the book. after that, she moves on to making mistakes that further affect other people. she says “no biggy’ and presumably cleans up – but that’s NOT FOR HER TO SAY. when we fuck over other people, we don’t tell THEM that it’s not a big deal. even 5 & 7 found this problematic and absurd. she and her dog track mud all over the carpet (we don’t see her clean it up – she just tells her mom it’s not a big deal). she floods the bathroom, then throws her dad’s robe on the floor (she does not clean it up) and tells them it’s no biggy. her pants are delighted, and the book ends with water all over the floor. WHAT THE FUCK. problematic for gaslighting, white saviors, and stigmatizing black boys