My 10 year old gets frustrated very easily. When I ask her if she'd like help or suggestions she says "no!". She'll often become angry and then give up. I have some of these tendencies (except being so hard on myself). I think it's combination of :

  • She's actually quite talented at things an thus has not had to learn persistence. (Her twin sister has always had to work just a bit more at learning physical things and is quite tolerant of failure). (I think she gets that from her mom, who, as a child only pursued things she was talented at.)
  • Is intolerant of failure, feels that it's an indictment of her.
  • Very focused on the outcome not the process even if it's something she enjoys. ("Am I done yet?")

I've tried:

  • Asking if she wants hints, suggestions, help, or me to do it for her. I try very hard to take her lead and stand back (even letting her fail) if she so desires. That would be fine except that she gets made (not very adaptive behavior)
  • Telling her to take a break (starting by asking, but demanding a break if she starts breaking things or gets abusive toward someone helping her) letting her know she deserves a rest.
  • Asking her to write down (or video taping) her feelings about the frustration and subsequent solving of the problem so she can develop the confidence that she will be able to accomplish the task.
  • Pointing out the few problems (worth solving) are solved with the first attempt. I've shown her the various editions of the company catalog I create every year or two, showing her the first one (from 1997) and how awful it is but that it got better each year.
  • Got her the Lego Mindstorms she's wanted for over a year (for xmas) (after letting her test it out @ a friend's house, where she was remarkably patient). She hasn't played with it much. (I'm going to help her (as much as she wants) this weekend again).

I'm thinking that some fun game to teach her patience would be a good option.

Any suggestions?

  • As Morah states below, most games should help teach these skills. I don't have a full answer for you, but I do have a few board game suggestions! (A)There are lots of good cooperative games on the market now - our favouites (in roughly increasing order of complexity) include Forbidden Island, Escape and Pandemic. (B) There are some great competitive-but-not-combative games available, some favourites include Alhambra, Carcassone, Settlers of Catan, Dominion and Ticket to Ride. If you're interested in any of these, one of the best websites to check for reviews, etc, is boardgamegeek.com
    – Dave B
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 20:28

4 Answers 4


I don't think there a games the specifically do this, however most games will lend themselves to this skill. I also think that narrating YOUR feelings out load when you get frustrated (or when you don't and are just faking it) and narrating how you solve the problem would teach her the skills of what to do.

When she is not frustrated, prior to what you know will be a difficult task, discuss with her what if...

Talk to her teacher about how your daughter deals with frustration in school, it may be completely different and some of the 'acting out' may be for your benefit. Through no fault of your own you probably spend more time with her twin on difficult work and your other daughter may want some of your attention (another reason for games).

If you want a specific game suggestion and your daughter is advanced I strongly recommend chess (see if there is a class she can take and play with her). The game requires patience, persistence and gives you time to tutor her while it is not related to school. Resist the urge to teach it to her twin, make it her special thing.


My daughter, also 10, tends to have great plans but no follow through. She has asymmetric skills, so is great in some things but so-so in others.

From a game point of view, we play Backgammon (Russian rules). The games tend to be about 20 minutes each, so are a lot shorter than Chess. Russian rules mean that you can go from a winning position to a losing one very quickly but if you persevere, you can recover.

From a plans point of view, I help her with the planning and setting up a schedule so she completes her projects. For example, she loves to write but never finishes so we work out a story plan that she can fill in. She still needs prodding to work on some of these projects but I think it is helping.

In a few cases, especially drawing, she tends to be a perfectionist. Occasionally, we'll sit down and spend some time working on the basic skills (perspective, proportion, etc...) so that next time she starts a picture, the skills are in place.


I think there are many games chess, backgammon, patience aka solitaire, sudoku, etc. that can help develop patience and persistence, however, it might be challenging for you to spur the interest at first. My nephews are the same age and I am seeing similar behavior (lack of focus, getting frustrated too easily). What helped was not to force them to play backgammon but rather let them watch how much fun we have while playing it. Suddenly they started eagerly to ask me to teach them how to play the game and the interest naturally built up, as they began to understand the rules and play themselves. From my perspective, it was very important to let them win from time to time, as I didn't want to discourage them.

So, in essence, my advice is to try playing some board or card games with your spouse and see in which your daughter shows any interest, then teach her how to play it and play together from time to time. Don't forget to let her win, as this is the prize that will make her play again and want to keep learning how to improve.

Hope that will work for you too.


Let me suggest go instead of chess.

For learning the game of go there is a simplification, using part of the rules, which I think a 10-year-old can manage. Search for "first capture", "capture go" and "atari go". This variation is interesting in and of itself, but also serves as introduction or prelude to the traditional game of go.

The beauty of go is that it is so deep. To play well you definitely need patience and self-restraint, ability to "read" the board, etc.

Compared to chess, I think it can be enjoyed much longer (in terms of ability development) without learning openings. Learning openings in chess is unavoidable beyond basic level of play, while learning josekis (go equivalent of openings) can be left for later, you can play based just on intuition for a while.

It is said that you need to "lose your first 100 games before getting better" or something like that. There will always be stronger players, so you have to get used to losing. On the other hand, unlike in chess, there is standard handicap when the difference in strength requires it.

Disclaimers: I like go more than chess. Have played go far more than chess. Still a beginner at go. :-)


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