Helping Our Children Through Disappointment

We spend so much of our lives looking forward to things. From small events such as a trip out for an ice-cream to big birthday celebrations and Christmas. We have our calendar ear-marked for every fun adventure.

Our children have a certain level of expectation from life as they continue to learn about the world around them. What may be a slight inconvenience to us as adults, may be a crushing disappointment for our children, even if it is simply that their favourite ice cream has run out. But we can’t spend our time clearing the path and shielding our children from these disappointments. But we can help them get through it.

Managing Expectations and Disappointment

When a child is disappointed about a situation it’s important for us to validate their feelings. We cannot simply attempt to fix the situation to avoid our children being disappointed. Disappointment is, in fact, an important aspect of growing up.

We can, however, help to manage their disappointment by looking at how they are reacting to the situation. If they are overly upset and seem to be over-reacting by our standards, we can sway them to an activity or situation which they enjoy and are good at. This gives them a little skill boost and distracts from the disappointment by giving them control over a situation.

We can also help them to understand what is out of our control. If the ice cream is all gone, we can help them realise that there are other choices available. It is important to not give out to your child if they are upset because their feelings are just as valid. By helping them understand the difference between what we can and can’t control, we can help them manage their expectations and disappointments.

Raising Resilient Children

By talking to our children and appreciating their feelings when they come across moments of disappointment, they learn about their own feelings. No matter how small the disappointment, their feelings are legitimate. But they also have the opportunity to learn about perspective and what is more important in life.

They also learn that we are there to support them during times of adversity. Our children need us to lean on as they learn and grow. Raising children who are resilient and can bounce back from setbacks and frustrations is a quality skill they will need as they grow older. Remind them that they have come through some big disappointments before and that there are always other options.

Geraldine Walsh

Mum of two Geraldine Walsh happily works from home as a freelance writer chatting about parenting, wellness and mental health.

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