Purposeful Parent Tip: Life is full of disappointments. Teach your child to deal with the little ones so they are better equipped to handle the big ones.
Disappointment. The ice cream cone that falls to the ground. The balloon that flies away. The toy that gets broken. Minor blips to an adult, but to a child, it’s the end of the world. Tears of sadness fall from little faces and a mom’s heart breaks just a little as she wipes the tears away saying “It’s ok.” The balloon will be forgotten, the toy may be replaced, but the pain of disappointment may linger for a bit longer.
In my house today, my son was dealt a huge blow. He did not make his high school basketball team. His heart is broken. He worked all summer long on perfecting his shot, learning to use his non-dominant hand, and practicing his dribble – all things he was told he needed to do. It wasn’t enough.
“I didn’t make it Mom”, was his text this morning.
He was filled with disappointment and anger and confusion. “I worked so hard and it was all for nothing,” he wrote. We all know how that feels, right?
There are many moments in my parenting journey where I simply don’t know what to do. This is one of them. My words back to him seemed meaningless. Nothing I said would change the situation or curb his disappointment. He has to work through it on his own.
This is a hard lesson to learn. Many adults, including myself, struggle with disappointment on a regular basis. We miss the big break or lose the coveted client. It’s difficult to understand that despite our best efforts, we don’t always win the prize.
I recently watched the results show of the X-Factor where a thirteen-year old girl, Beatrice Miller, was sent home. The disappointment was visible through her sobs and when the hosts asked if she was ok (stupid question), she simply said, “No.” When asked if she had any parting words, her response was, “I’m sorry.” Sorry for disappointing her family. She could not see all that she had accomplished. Only that she had failed.
In that moment, her dream was dead. All she wants to do is sing. All my son wants is to play basketball. Why then, when you are so clear on your purpose, your goals, do they elude us? It boggles the mind.
Both my son and little Beatrice are not able to see into the future where this hiccup in their plan will make sense. I can see it now…”Ohhhh..THAT’s why I didn’t make the team. That’s why I didn’t win the prize. It was so that I could be (fill in the blank).” Now, to them, it’s simply the end of the world.
As parents, we must teach our children how to deal with disappointment and we must do it early. When the stack of blocks falls after painstakingly placing them on top of each other to build that grand tower, we must show them that it can be re-built, maybe even better than its predecessor. Yes, it’s fine to shed a tear over the situation and feel the comfort of a hug from a loved one, but learning how to start over is the best lesson we can teach our children.
As they grow, they will learn how to handle failure and learn how to bounce back. This is a critical lesson in life. It’s best to learn it early so that failure will not be seen as the end of the world, but rather, the motivation to try again.