Tips for Teaching Kids About Disappointment

Kids learn a lot of lessons- not all of them are fun. They learn that if they don’t listen to us, they can get hurt, in trouble, or just maybe, we were right.

They also have to learn about disappointment. Yikes. This can happen after not being able to go out with a friend, not being picked for a team or even after finding out that the store is out of a toy/DVD/something else they wanted. It’s not fun to see the look on their face, but it’s a part of life, right?

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Bouncing Back from Let Down

Learning to bounce back is a skill that kids will need to hang onto for life, so it’s important to learn this lesson early. They need to learn that it is okay to ask others for support, communicate in an appropriate way and stay optimistic. It’s best to start with the basics. Some of the following information is from Parents Magazine

  • Teach your child that some things can be changed and some things cannot be changed.  For example, if a storm ruins a trip to the park, explain to your child that we can’t control the rain, but offer a different solution. Also remind them that a tantrum or other negative actions (like whining, my personal pet peeve) will not get them what they want. If your child sulks, choices can save the day.
  • Instead of rushing to fix an issue, let them try to fix it themselves (depending on the age). This may take some time, but your child will learn that they can fix bad situations on their own.
  • Show some empathy. Your child will see that it’s okay to be sad or upset over unexpected things if they see that you aren’t pleased over canceled plans.
  • Create a network of people that your child can talk to when things are a bit rough. Sometimes your child may want to talk to someone else besides their parents and this helps build resilience.
  • Don’t tell them “You’re being a baby”, “It’s not a big deal”, or anything similar. They are kids, but they also have feelings. These phrases make their feelings seem smaller and that hurts as much, if not more than the situation itself.

Time For Processing

Many kids sit in the sadness for a day or so, depending on the situation. We don’t like seeing our kids sad and a bit heartbroken, but this time may give them an opportunity to think things out and come up with an idea of what to do next, how to improve, etc.

They may not even need us to help them. Even if they don’t ask, check in with them to see if they need a listening ear and/or an idea or two on how to move forward. Remind them that you still love them, no matter what. You may get brushed off but it’s probably what they need to hear most.

Listen to your child and validate their feelings. They need you to help them deal with their thoughts. If they need a bit of encouragement, give it. This isn’t the time to demean them or their attempt at making a team, getting into college, etc. Being disappointed is a part of life and part of being a parent is helping them through the rough patches.

Unhappy

Pics courtesy of unsplash

How well do your kids handle disappointment? Do you have a story to share when your child handled it well? Please share in the comments.