“It is impossible to protect your kids against disappointment in life” – Nicholas Sparks
How do you handle disappointment from others, specifically your child? When your child is feeling sad and disappointed by something or someone, perhaps even you, how do you respond? How do you respond to your own disappointment?
One of the most important things that we can do for our children is to simply listen. When they are feeling disappointed, it is important that we tune in and be present with them and for them. As we listen, we can find opportunities to validate their feelings by verbally acknowledging their pain. Examples of such validation include: “I can understand why you feel this way” or “I see you are feeling disappointed, do I have that right?” or, “I hear what you are sharing, and I am sorry you that you are feeling this way.”
Allow your children to share whatever the emotion is. Do not feel compelled to solve or fix what it is they are feeling. Our children do not need us to rescue them; they need us to listen and accept their feelings with validation.
Disappointment is a healthy emotion, like any other, and helps our children grow in their emotional connection, understanding, and resilience. It can be very difficult for so many reasons, for us, as parents to watch our children experience disappointment. This is an opportunity for our own growth. What is our relationship to disappointment in our own life?
In allowing your child to express their disappointment, here are some steps you can take:
- Help your child name the feeling if they are not able to.
- Validate your child’s feeling and their ability to manage it.
- Show that you believe in them and have confidence in their ability to manage these big feelings.
- Bring empathy and compassion to these situations.
- Normalize the experience of disappointment. Share a story from your own life, without minimizing their feelings, acknowledging that this is tough.
- Give your child some space. Read their cues of what they need. Get to know your child’s experience of emotion processing and respond accordingly.
- Reflect upon how your child processes and manages this experience. Circle back later to co-reflect on their strength and emotional experience.
Disappointment is part of all our lives. It is important that we help our children find strategies that work for them.
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