It’s been a tough year with plenty of disappointments for the children – cancelled trips, less interaction in school, no birthday parties, fenced up playgrounds and fewer playdates. It is also the post-exams season and your child would have received the results – or on the verge of receiving them. Some may feel disappointed especially if they have fallen short of expectations, be it theirs or their parents’.
However, dealing with disappointments is part and parcel of life. As parents, we help, support and guide them along as best as we can. Here are some thoughts on how we can help our children cope with disappointments or a mis-match in expectations.
1. Reassure Them & Acknowledge Their Emotions
Be it a failed experiment, missing out on fun or less-than-ideal examination results, it can be disappointing when things don’t go a certain way. It is natural to feel down and we can reassure our children that there will be disappointments in life. Let them process their emotions by crying, or preferring to be alone. As parents, we can be there for them supporting them.
Little ones can have a tough time managing these big emotions. A hug, holding hands, preparing a listening ear would be loving gestures.
2. Give Them Choices and Talk Through Alternative Plans
With Plan A gone down the drain, let the child make alternative plans or give them choices they would appreciate. If the ice cream stall is closed, how about a frozen yogurt treat or a popsicle from the nearest convenience store?
How about if the child misses an opportunity, did not make the auditions or does not get into a desired course or CCA? Try mapping out other options with the child. For example, other similar course from a different school, external classes or even enrolling him or her in an online course instead. Learning and growing does not stop with only a single plan. Encourage them if they have a interest in a particular area to pursue the interest in alternative ways.
3. Empower Them with the Right Attitude
Albert Einstein said “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Moments of disappointments are also teachable moments. Gaining some new perspective can be precious. Through heart-to-heart talks, parents can empower their child with right attitudes. Instead of mulling over failures, there is an opportunity to learn, grow and keep trying. If life is smooth-sailing, how would we build resilience in ourselves and our children?
A good attitude dictates how well the child can progress and it is something that is always a work-in-progress.
4. Target Areas of Improvement
If it is a disappointment concerning grades, there are always ways to improve. Parents can sit down with the child to look at which areas need brushing up. Whether it is an understanding of concepts, more practice needed, carelessness, these are issues which can be fixed. Give your child the support he or she needs in the attempt to improve. Don’t forget to praise areas of improvement – this will spur the child to desire even better progress to be affirmed by parents.
5. Manage Our Own Emotions
As parents, we are bound to have expectations of our child. Disappointments can stem from our emotions and hopes projected on the child. Hence, we have to reign in our emotions as well. If the child is already feel demoralised or upset, we should offer support. Nagging or scolding can be counterproductive when dealing with disappointments.
You can be upfront about how you feel, perhaps “I am disappointed because I believe that you can do better. Let’s try again.” or “I know you are upset, so am I. Shall we think of another plan?” Work together on solutions after processing the feelings. This will strengthen the parent-child relationship with a focus on tackling the issues as a team.
Let’s Work on Managing Disappointments Together
Life doesn’t go the way we want it sometimes. Experiencing disappointments is part and parcel of growing up. Help your child navigate the emotions in a productive way and there can be many invaluable lessons learnt in the journey. It is our duty to give our disappointed children the guidance they need.