It’s a fact.
Our child is going to face multiple disappointments throughout their life.
Disappointments are not only a part of life, they’re invaluable in building the necessary coping skills to succeed in life.
Of course it’s hard to see our children hurting, and our natural instincts are to rush in and fix things. But it’s going to be much harder for our children to cope with their inevitable big upsets later in life if they haven’t learned to live through their small ones first.
So, how can we prepare our child to handle life’s inevitable disappointments?
- We can do a bit of background work ahead of time to help our children understand that disappointment is a natural and inevitable part of our life. We might even share some of the setbacks we face, let them see us wobble a little bit but pick ourselves up again.
- When disappointment strikes for our children, we can acknowledge it. Be real; it exists. “You sound disappointed that your ...”
- We don’t try to fix (or discipline) the problem while they’re still upset. Instead, we teach them that if they’re patient, their storm will pass and they’ll be able to think and talk a bit more clearly about solutions. (We might show them what we do to calm down - perhaps by breathing deeply, stretching, holding ourselves in a tight hug, or getting a cool drink of water. Encourage them to try a few things and find what works for them.)
- We can help them talk themselves through the strong emotion. “This is disappointing, but it will be okay soon.” “Everyone gets disappointed at some stage.”
- We can talk to our child about what their next step is. What do they think they should do now? How did they handle their last disappointment?
- We can remind them they bounced back from a past let-down.
- We can help them get ready for next time. When we guide our child through one disappointment, we can use the experience to brainstorm ways to handle the next one.
Disappointments can actually be good for children, especially when we teach them how to get through them, learn, and bounce back to better cope with future let-downs.
Success isn't always about “winning,” it's more often about finding another path.