5 ways to help your child deal with disappointment

April 20, 2017
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    Your four­-year-­old’s life doesn’t always go according to plan. Like the time you took him to buy a birthday present but the toy that you promised him was sold out. How do you help your child deal with disappointment?

    Disappointments can throw your child’s confidence, leaving him feeling low and dispirited. Here are ways to help him cope.

    Related: How to discipline your child

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    Instead of saying: “You are being silly and acting like a baby.”

    Say this: “I can see you are very disappointed by this.”

    Why it works: Take his feelings seriously, and resist the urge to trivialise his reaction. To you, the fact that you had to cancel his trip to the park today is no big deal because you know that you’ll be able to take him tomorrow when you have more time and when the weather will be better.

    But the disappointment is real for your preschooler because he lives in the moment. So, let him know that you understand his feelings.

    Related: 4 ways to help your pessimistic child

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    Instead of saying: “That’s the last time I’m going to buy you a special gift.”

    Say this: “It’s been good fun planning this, even though we can’t buy it today.”

    Why it works: Any activity that you and Junior plan in advance has two components. There is the anticipation and discussion in the planning stage, and then the actual event.

    Disappointment arises when the planned event or activity doesn’t take place. Yet you and your child would still have enjoyed the planning phase.

    So remind him about the fun you had together when you were thinking about this outing, even though it didn’t actually happen today.

    Related: How to teach your child to handle failure

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    Instead of saying: “I suggest we do this instead. That will make you feel better.”

    Say this: “What do you think we could do to make you feel better?”

    Why it works: Your natural instinct is to offer a solution to your child because you don’t like to see him so upset.

    But you can strengthen his ability to cope with disappointment by encouraging him to share in the search for a solution, rather than simply providing one.

    Give him time to think of something that might cheer him up, such as watching a DVD together or playing a board game. Encourage his involvement in the process.

    Related: How to be a supportive parent

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    Instead of saying: “You just have to get used to the fact things don’t always go as planned.”

    Say this: “Let’s plan an alternative in case that one doesn’t work out.”

    Why it works: Although not always possible, when planning ahead with Junior – whether it’s a visit to his favourite theme park, or organising a play date – make a back­up plan at the same time, just in case things go wrong.

    For instance, maybe you could agree that you’ll go for an ice cream if you discover the latest movie is sold out, or perhaps you’ll consider whom he can ask to his play date if his changes his mind at the last minute.

    Related: Why you should let your child fail

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    Instead of saying: “Disappointments always get you down. You just have to accept them.”

    Say this: “I get disappointed, too, but I try hard to get over it quickly.”

    Why it works: He can learn how to cope with disappointment by watching how you rebound from such an experience. So don’t be afraid to let him see that you are disappointed at times, and that you are able to overcome setbacks.

    Explain what happened to you, why you are upset, and what you did to make yourself feel better. Based on your example, he’ll start to use the same coping strategies himself.

    Related: 5 ways you’re stressing your kid without knowing it 

    (Photos: 123rf.com)

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