Handling Disappointment - November 2020

I remember as a child receiving a cheerleading uniform that matched the cheerleaders of the high school hockey team my dad was coaching. I thought that made me an actual cheerleader and so you can imagine my disappointment when I didn’t get to hop on the team bus!  Life is full of disappointments, but maybe now more than ever. This season of Covid-19 has brought with it many life changes and challenges that have been disappointing to both kids and adults. Some disappointments might be big, such as the loss of a sports season or not being able to hang out with friends. Some disappointments might be smaller, but still bring with them feelings of discouragement. 

While nobody likes to be disappointed, times like this can give us the opportunity to help our kids learn how to recover from and handle their disappointment. It may be tempting to want to shield them from big emotions by withholding information or trying to fix the situation behind the scenes, but allowing our kids to experience smaller disappointments will help build the foundation to handle bigger disappointments that life will inevitably bring their way. Here are some ways you can help your child handle disappointment:

  1. Listen and let them talk about what is disappointing them. Sometimes we think we know how our child is feeling but we can mistakenly insert our own feelings. Resist the urge to downplay their disappointment.
  2. Validate how they are feeling. Use phrases such as “That’s really disappointing” or “I’m sorry that you can’t ______”. It lets children know that they are being heard.
  3. Talk about possible solutions. “What could we do instead?” Put the focus on problem solving.

By taking the time to allow and talk through disappointments with our kids, we can help them learn some valuable coping skills to take with them into their teenage and adult years!