Helping your Twice-Exceptional (2e) Child Build Frustration Tolerance

By Day Sanchez.

Frustration is a typical emotional response that arises when a person is prevented from

reaching a desired outcome. It is an inevitable part of life. We can all develop skills to

help us manage life's daily frustrations, but the emotional depth and intensity that

characterizes gifted individuals make low frustration tolerance a prevalent issue for

families of gifted children. Because learning differences and social-emotional difficulties

come with additional challenges, this is an even bigger issue for twice-exceptional (2e)

minds and their families.

The good news is that twice-exceptional children can master the competencies needed to

regulate their intense emotions. Gaining self-regulation skills can help gifted and twice-exceptional children overcome obstacles and tolerate disappointments constructively.

Children who successfully learn to cope with frustration in healthy ways, develop

confidence that will likely guide them when navigating life's challenges later on. It all

starts with emotional self-awareness.

Developing Emotional Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the anchor of emotional intelligence and a fundamental competency on

which other emotional skills build upon. Emotional self-awareness is the ability to

monitor our feelings from moment to moment and pay attention to our internal states

including our self-talk and our thoughts about our feelings and emotions. It is about

observing ourselves closely and recognizing our emotional, thinking, and behavioral

patterns and being able to use that information efficiently to make any necessary changes

to better ourselves. It also includes having an accurate sense of our strengths and


Emotional self-awareness is the first step in building strong frustration tolerance skills. Children with strong emotional self-awareness understand the relationship and difference

between their emotions, feelings, thoughts, and actions. They are able to recognize when

a particular emotion is arising and use appropriate vocabulary to express different

feelings and emotions.

Due to their high intellect, many gifted children tend to have an overly analytical

approach to life, which can complicate their abilities to sort through their feelings and

make sense of their emotions. For this reason, some gifted children need to work twice as

hard to develop these skills. Here are three ways to help your 2e/ gifted child boost their

emotional self-awareness and build strong frustration tolerance skills.

Encourage Healthy Expression

Many parents ask me about de-escalation techniques for calming down a child who is

past her tipping point and having a full-blown meltdown, but it may be easier for children

to learn techniques to prevent them from getting to that point. A more proactive approach

would be to provide children with opportunities to practice expressing their emotions

regularly so that they are more likely to find appropriate ways to communicate their

frustration when they do become upset.

Emotions are a normal part of life, but there are healthy and unhealthy ways to express

them. Encourage healthy emotional expression by talking about your feelings openly in

front of your child. Allow your child to see that everyone experiences frustration almost