Wednesday: Mid Week Ramblings—-Helping Children Deal with Disappointment
I had this side job a few years ago where I transcribed interviews between a professor and women governors who were participating in the publishing of a book about what helped them become a leader through their childhood. It was one of the most interesting things I have listened to, and the subject of how their parents helped them deal with disappointment came up a surprising amount of times. Quite a few of them shared their concern of today’s children and how they are not learning to work through disappointment.
It’s become popular in our culture to “protect” kids from bad feelings. But these experiences are necessary learning tools, and managing them requires critical skills. (-Susan Carney)
What do we deprive our children of when we rush to their rescue at any sign of stress?
The opportunity to practice coping skills.
The development of their attitude and belief that will help them deal with problems when they are adults.
“There are several problems with this attempt to make everyone “feel good about themselves”. First of all, it isn’t fooling anyone. Telling someone they’ve done a great job when they clearly haven’t is not only insulting, but it tends to set a tone of low expectations. Self esteem is built through mastery, not through pretense. Second, it isn’t grounded in reality. Giving kids false expectations about their abilities and skills is not only dishonest, but unethical. Lastly, letting kids face the letdowns of childhood, however painful, is necessary for emotional growth. Kids who haven’t had practice developing coping skills for disappointment fall apart later on when no one is standing there ready to rescue them. Though the pains of childhood are heartbreaking, they are learning experiences that, when faced with the loving support of a trusted adult, help prepare kids to deal with later life.” (-Susan Carney)
What CAN we do to help our child deal with disappointment? Here are a few tips that I can think of and that I have heard from others, share what you have learned in the comment section.
-Offer your support
-Offer your encouragement
-Don’t “downplay” their experience
-Set a good example by using “I messages” when dealing with your problems
-Avoid the impulse to solve the problem, use reflective listening skills
-Try to teach them problem solving skills, “It sounds like you are very hurt by what she did, what do you think you are going to do about it?” “Have you known of anyone who has had this problem, have you had it before? What did you do then, what was the outcome”
-Help them feel confident about solving their own problems (of course according to the severity of the problem and age of the child)
-Give them some stress relief, maybe they just need time by their self or doing something they really enjoy