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Developing Skills to Handle Disappointment

We all face disappointment, children and adults alike.  Whether it’s missing the winning shot or rain that ruins a picnic at the park, life is full of big and little disappointments.  As parents and teachers we would like to spare kids from these letdowns.  However, we can do children a greater service if instead, we teach them tools and skills for how to deal with those times when things didn’t go as planned.

Here are some ways help kids face disappointment and change their mindset:

  • Teach children that while feeling disappointed or angry is okay, certain behaviors such as throwing a fit are not.  Process inappropriate behaviors during a calmer time. Ask the child, “What could you have done instead of throwing a fit?”
  • Teach children to communicate and talk through their feelings in a respectful way. Ask the child, “How could you have expressed how disappointed you were in a respectful way?”
  • Teach children to recognize the difference between things they can change and things that need to be accepted. Not always getting to go first may need to be accepted. Not being accepted into the elite choir ensemble at school may also need to be accepted but if this is a true goal then perhaps voice lessons and further practice should be considered for next year.  Help children develop critical thinking skills to evaluate different situations and the best response to each.
  • Teach children that there is often a lesson learned or even an opportunity in disappointment.  As a teacher or parent you can share a time that you didn’t get what you wanted but in the end you got an opportunity that you would not have expected because of the disappointment. Ask the child to imagine “What could happen in the future?  How would you like to create your future story?”

Disappointment is something we’ve all experienced and our children will as well. Developing tools for handling it is an important life lesson.

Here is another excellent video from Rocket Kids on quotes that can inspire all of us to work through disappointments.

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