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Disappointment: How to help your child deal with disappointment


Dealing with disappointment isn't easy for anyone, but it may be the hardest for children. Here are some ways to help your child cope, and emerge stronger in the end.

Give Them Time

Everything feels like the end of the world at first, so let your child know that it's not. Give them some time to process what just happened. Sometimes a child needs to be left alone for awhile, until they can find the words to express how they feel. Give them that space. Other times, disappointment comes out all at once, in an angry outburst of emotion. If this happens, let them know that it's okay to be upset, but they can't take their frustration out on others.

Let Them Talk

Once they get past the initial stage (either solitude or anger), let them share everything. Children need to vent too. They may feel that something was unfair and shouldn't have happened the way that it did. Don't dismiss their emotions. Listen intently. Knowing that their thoughts are being heard and understood will help them get through this disappointing time.

Evaluate Expectations

Think about what your child is communicating to you. Are they upset that they didn't win the soccer championship? Look for a way to see the good. If their expectation was to win the championship, but they lost by one goal in the final seconds, encourage them that most teams in the league didn't even make it to the championship. Then try to look for something that your child did right during the game and focus on that, instead of the loss.

Help Them Learn From Failures

Kids sometimes believe that if they don't do something perfectly, that makes them a failure. Let your child know that's not true. Take Thomas Edison for example. He invented the light bulb, but before he did, he tried thousands of ways that didn't work. Aren't we glad that he didn't give up? He said, "Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Encourage your child to continue to go after their dreams and simply try again.

Focus On the Learning Experience

Almost everything in a child's life can be turned into a learning experience. Ask them what they think went wrong, and what they can do to improve next time. Once they have something to work towards, they will start feeling better about the past and look forward to future success. Remind them that accomplishments are often sweeter when you have to work harder to achieve them.

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