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?")
- 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.