If there is one lesson that no parent enjoys teaching their child it is the art of getting over disappointment. This is partly because no one likes to be disappointed, have their hopes shattered, but it is a raw and honest part of life. Figuring out how to teach our children this can be difficult though, you don’t want them to give up or lose heart. It is important that as we teach our children to cope with disappointment, how important it is to keep trying.
Here are a few to help you teach your child how to cope with, how to overcome disappointments in life, and to grow from experience.
• Offer Love and Support
Think about how you feel when things do not go the way you expected or wanted. You feel down and depressed. Your child feels the same way, what they need to know is that they are not alone, that even though they feel down and sad, they are not alone. Offer them a hug, listen to them as they tell you what has happened. DO NOT judge, or blow off what they are saying.
• Acknowledge Their Feelings
This goes hand in hand with showing them love and support. When you are listening to them, pay attention to what they are saying. Try to make eye contact with them. Most importantly, stop what you are doing and show them you are interested in what it is they are saying. If they are acting out in angry it could simply be due to the fact they don’t know how else to respond. They are only going to learn if you teach them, so focus on something positive in their life or something positive about the situation. “I know that you are disappointed that you didn’t get to score the touchdown, but you did get to carry the ball and have the crowd screaming for you.” There is a silver lining to every gray cloud, find it and show your child.
• Perspective Life is not fair and it is not perfect, no matter who you are. That doesn’t mean that life falls apart when we don’t get what we want, so don’t overreact and don’t let your child overreact. So they didn’t get picked first for the team, or they weren’t asked to play with a certain group of kids that they wanted to play with. Yes it is disappointing, but it is not the end of the world. Point out that they do have other friends, that they are a great person to be around and they don’t have to picked first for everything they did get to play though.
• Relate to Them There are many times in life when the best thing you can do is commensurate with someone. This doesn’t mean that you sit down with your child and play the “Oh woes me…” game. But they need to know that there are times in your life when you have been disappointed as well, and tell them how you dealt with it. What did you do to make yourself feel better, what did you learn from the situation. You might even tell them that in the end, it actually worked out better that it didn’t go the way you wanted it to go at the time because if it had you would’ve missed out on something even better.
• Be Realistic
Unfortunately and fortunately children are often unrealistic. That is one of the joys of being a child. However when it comes to disappointments being unrealistic can be overpowering. If your child is upset and disappointed because they wanted to go see a movie, hang out with a friend and get that new video game and they only got to hang out with the friend, you have to show them that there are only so many hours in the day and the you only had so much time to get things done. Let them know that there is always tomorrow or the next day.
• Ask Them What They Learned
This is important, because many times a disappointment comes from a failure. Your child may feel as though they are a failure and that they can not do anything right and they may want to give up. After talking with them, letting them express their feelings ask them a couple of questions like:
– “Is there anything you would’ve done differently?”
– “ What do you think went wrong?”
– “What can you do now to make the situation better?”
– “Are you going to try again.”
One of the greatest movies that I think Disney has every done is “Meet the Robinsons.” I think it is a wonderful movie to have children watch because it teaches you how to address disappointment the right way and the wrong way. The movie also teaches them to celebrate failures, because it is only through failure that you are able to learn, move forward and do something better.