Does Your Child Struggle with Disappointment?
Can you remember the last time you felt disappointed?
Perhaps things did not go to plan or as well as you had hoped?
Or maybe someone forgot to do something, and as a result, you felt let down?
Disappointment is a normal experience of sadness, anger or frustration which occurs when our hopes or expectations were unfulfilled. When you take a moment to stop and think about what might have been and compare it to how things currently are, you may experience disappointment. It involves the realisation that you do not have, or did not get, or sometimes will never achieve what it is was that you truly wanted. Young or young at heart, we all feel disappointed sometimes and children need to know that this feeling will pass.
Why is it So Difficult to Accept?
Although feeling disappointed is normal and valid, many people seem to do whatever they can to avoid this feeling and therefore fail to properly recognise it. Acknowledging that you are disappointed almost forces you to admit that you did not get what you hoped for, and this is tough to accept. It would be much easier for you to protest with anger and frustration than encounter your sadness about the unfortunate turn of events.
Sometimes, people may even twist their thinking by jumping to conclusions and discounting the positives in the situation. The danger here is, these thoughts may not be entirely accurate and consequently can further negatively affect your mood, so we might choose to withdraw or blame other people.
3 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Disappointment
Remember that time when you felt the need to have a good vent to a friend or have a good cry to get through a disappointing situation? Children too need time to work out the situation for themselves and may need to reach out to you for emotional support when they are ready.
1. Acknowledge the Feeling
Acknowledge your child’s feeling in simple terms, before attempting to problem solve. Sometimes a child’s need to be heard and understood can outweigh their ability to focus on the details of what may be the issue. Use body language to show that you are listening and try your best to avoid interrupting or interjecting. Be mindful of your eye contact and position of your body whilst they speak, to demonstrate that you are present and attentive.
2. Provide Support Not a Shield
By providing support rather than a shield from emotional distress, children can come to understand that difficult feelings are not wrong or bad. When we talk about feelings, we teach children that it is normal to feel scared, sad or disappointed at times. Children who are better able to understand, manage and express their feelings in a healthy way are more likely to stay calm in challenging situations and enjoy life experiences for what they are. Learn more about how to help your child understand feelings.
3. Talk About Your Own Experiences
Disappointment is actually a good thing because disappointment is acceptance of reality and is a part of life. When appropriate, talk to your child about a time where you felt disappointed. Talking about what you did you do to cope, who you went to for support and how you got through can help your child learn and grow. Admitting your own failings is truly powerful.
Overall, disappointment is worth it to realise your goals. It could be a time to regroup and rethink or even reprioritise or acclimatise. We need to experience disappointment to build resilience.