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Help Kids Handle Disappointment

Teach your child to cope in the face of frustration.

Learning Benefits

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Social Skills

Disappointment takes many shapes and forms, from not getting invited to a birthday party to being benched during an important game. It occurs when kids work hard on a project and still get a bad grade, and it is keenly felt when a child is forced to miss an important school event. No matter what the scenario, disappointment hurts.

To help your child get past a setback:

  • Listen to him. Sure, he may be overreacting. And, yes, it may be his fault that he failed a test or alienated a friend. But it's still your job to lend an ear and have empathy for what he's feeling.
  • Keep a clear head. Avoid getting caught up in the situation. The simple act of remaining calm will defuse some of your child's negative feelings.
  • Put things in perspective. Your child may feel like it's the end of the world, but in reality, it's not. Gently help her see the light at the end of the tunnel ("I know it's hard now, but there's another game next week.") to get her through the emotional pain.
  • Teach your child to calm himself. Help him determine what works for him, whether it's taking a few deep breaths, writing down his feelings, staying active, volunteering his time, or taking his mind off the situation by playing a game. By the time he reaches 3rd grade, he should be able to start figuring out how to calm down on his own.
  • Learn from the incident. Once she's over the initial upset, brainstorm how to handle the situation differently next time. Talk about alternate ways to respond. Just don't push. Take cues from your child. Ask her whether she wants to discuss this now or later.
  • End on a positive note. From your guidance, he'll gain the confidence and know-how he needs to handle disappointing circumstances in the future.

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