HOW TO HELP KIDS BOUNCE BACK FROM DISAPPOINTMENT
Life is full of amazing, mundane, surprising and disappointing situations and kids are strong enough to cope with most of them, but only if we allow them to experience the ups, and more importantly THE DOWNS, of life.
We all want our kids to be happy and we don't want them to feel upset. However, if life is changed and manipulated around them so that they never have to deal with disappointment or responsibility, kids will become adults who lack confidence, resilience and coping skills when life inevitably gets hard. I strongly believe this is part of the mental un-wellness epidemic that is occurring.
Kids are clever and capable of so much when we teach them that even though life is really hard sometimes, they're strong, they'll bounce back and we're here to support them through it (not change every thing so that it's perfect)! They deserve to be coached through disappointment in a way that teaches them it's ok to feel like this but that the feeling won't last. We don't always get what we want and there are things we can do to make ourselves feel better.
As a primary school teacher of 20 years, I have had lots of well-meaning requests, phone calls and emails to help smooth things out for a child. Consider this though, rather than remove the challenge, view them as brilliant opportunities to coach kids on important life lessons.
Instead of requesting to the coach that, "Little Johnny isn't in a sports team with his BFF so can you please change the teams so that they can be together?"
This is the perfect time to talk to kids about working in groups. "You are going to be placed in lots of groups and teams in your lifetime. Sometimes you'll be put with your friends and sometimes you'll be put with people you don't know or get on well with. But this is part of life! You will meet new people and learn things from them in this team. Be brave, you'll have fun if you have a good attitude."
Instead of saying to a teacher that, "Lulu accidentally punched Grace in the face yesterday and now the kids don't want to play with her. Can you please tell them it was an accident."
This is the perfect time to teach your kid about cause and effect! "I know you feel disappointed that they don't want to play with you, but I wouldn't want to play with you if you punched me in the face either. The right thing to do is apologise to Grace and make sure you don't do this to anyone else at school. Show them that you can be a kind friend. "
Instead of emailing the school at 2.22am in the morning that, "Rory came home without their jumper yesterday, can you please check all the kids bags tomorrow incase someone has stolen it?"
This is the perfect opportunity to teach them about managing their belongings. "Everybody loses things sometimes so we have we to try really hard to take care of our things. When you get to school tomorrow, check your bag hook, the classroom and the lost property box. When you take off your jumper next time, put it in your bag so that you don't lose it."
So, when a disappointing moment occurs, what you say and do as their parent either builds their coping skills or disables them. If you hustle on in and attempt to always change the situation, you are robbing them of building their resilience, coping skills and mental wellness. Instead, use it as an opportunity to reassure and motivate them. This will help them with future tricky situations that will inevitably arise throughout their lifetime.
1. Acknowledge their feeling
2. Normalise it and the fact that this happens in life
3. Coach them how to move through it
"I'm sorry that happened. It's ok to be disappointment but things don't always go the way we hope they do. Take a deep breath, you'll feel better soon."
"I can see you feel disappointed now but I promise, this feeling won't last. Let's go outside for some fresh air, that always makes you feel better."
"I can understand that you feel disappointed, I would too! There are lots of surprising things that happen in life and this is one of them. You're strong, you'll get through this."
Victoria Jenkins is a brain-based educator at Brain Essentials, public speaker, primary teacher, author and mother of two who wants to empower parents to grow happy, healthy humans by doing things that are good for their brains!
Her book, My Amazing Brain, weaves brain-boosting activities with parenting tips, kids facts and a holistic approach to parenting. Download it here today or order the softcover book for your child, perfect for 4-10 year olds.