Here’s a scenario that’s happened at our house on more than occasion. Maybe you can relate…
One of our daughters had been looking forward to something for weeks. We got news at the last minute that it wasn’t going to work out like she’d hoped. Actually, my husband and I knew first, and I DREADED telling her. I knew how disappointed she was going to be. And what if she cried??? I’m not one to cry easily, and neither are my girls, so when there are tears involved, my heart just melts.
She took it like a champ, and in the end, it all worked out okay. But that wasn’t the first time – and certainly wasn’t the last – that she’d receive disappointing news. Maybe our daughter won’t get the job or the invitation or the scholarship or the guy.
That particular day, I was able to share with her a disappointment that I’d experienced…because haven’t we all had our share of those moments? Whether it’s missing an event you’ve looked forward to or not receiving something you expected to get, we’ve all known what it’s like to feel disappointment.
No one likes to be disappointed. But learning to accept and deal with it is part of life. And since we know that our children will face disappointment, it’s helpful if we can give them strategies for handling it.
The following is a quote by Thomas Monson.
The principles of living greatly include the capacity to face trouble with courage, disappointment with cheerfulness, and trial with humility.
I don’t know that I’m at the point of facing disappointment with cheerfulness, but that’s a great goal to have! Here are six tips I try to remember when walking our children through a disappointment since even our older kids get disappointed at times.
1. Empathize. Don’t just brush off their disappointment as no big deal. Take time to acknowledge their feelings. Show compassion for the situation, and let them know that you’ve suffered disappointments, too.
2. Remind them that God knows all about it. Gently remind them that God is in control, and has allowed this to happen. We know that God loves us and only wants what’s best for us, so we can trust that it is in His good plans for us.
Do this on an age-appropriate level; it will likely be a shorter conversation with younger kids. Since my daughters are teenagers, we can really get into a discussion on this – and I did with a daughter who recently faced disappointment. Let your child know that we can talk to God about this disappointment, and hopefully see it as a way God is growing our trust in Him.
3. Allow some time to grieve the disappointment. I’m not talking about whining and pouting or allowing it to drag on for hours. But even as an adult, I need a few minutes to adjust my thinking and try to get back into a positive mindset when I’ve had a sudden change of plans or gotten disappointing news. Taking a little while to reframe the situation and adjust our attitudes is helpful.
4. Think of something new to anticipate. Part of maturing is learning to bounce back from disappointments. Once they’ve had a little time to grieve, help them think of something else to look forward to.
With younger children, maybe there’s a distraction, or something fun you can do instead. Take the focus off of the current situation and begin to look forward to another outing, activity, etc. Or a good strategy for any situation is to come up with a list of things to be grateful for.
5. Set a good example. When you suffer a disappointment, deal with it as you would want your children to do. Seeing how you handle these situations can help your children as well.
6. Don’t try to shield your child from ever feeling disappointed. Disappointment is a fact of life. We’ll all experience it on multiple occasions. Helping your child learn to deal with it well will help them as they go through life. I’d rather them learn now how to handle it rather than have to do it by themselves when they’ve left our home.
Going through disappointments helps our children realize that there are things in life that can be changed and there are those that can’t. And here’s where my dad’s wise, age-old advice comes in handy.
Attitude is everything.
Adjusting our attitude as we manage our disappointments gives us the capacity to live life greatly!
Do you have other suggestions for handling disappointment?
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