Recovering from Disappointment

Disappointment is a part and parcel of life. From grades that fall below expectations, to a losing game, to job rejections, an individual is bound to feel disappointed at different stages of his or her life. As adults, it can be challenging to handle the emotions that come with disappointment, especially when it comes to important matters. If you did not get a promotion, for example, you would be disappointed. Likewise, children would also feel the same when things don’t go a certain way as they have expected. 

It is important to start teaching them at a young age some ways that they can recover from disappointment. When children know how to emotionally regulate and handle disappointment maturely, they are better prepared to handle disappointments as they grow older. Being able to recover from disappointments independently is a life skill that children should have. Here are some ways that parents can help their children learn to recover from feeling disappointed. 

Shaping Perspectives 

Not getting the grades desired can be discouraging for children. As parents, it is important to put yourself in their shoes. The results for a mid-term quiz can mean a big deal to them, so remember not to belittle or disregard their feelings of disappointment. When such instances happen, parents can guide their children with probing questions on how they can improve. After validating their feelings, consider running through the paper with them to identify key areas to improve on. This helps children to be more forward-looking than backward-looking, and motivates them to do better for future tests. It opens possibilities to them that they can make corrections and grow from the errors that they have made. Rather than have them start dwelling on their disappointment, help them to see that they can use a failed attempt as an opportunity to improve. 

Shaping perspectives does not have to be in the context of academics. It can also be applied to everything else going on in your child’s life. When it comes to disappointments suffered from relationships, unexpected cancellations of plans, and failed attempts at something etc, there are always windows of opportunities to guide their thought processes. For example, when it comes to unexpected cancellation of plans, a probing question can be, “It is cancelled today, but can you do something else with this time?”, followed by suggestions on carrying out activities that they love doing. This way, children learn to ask themselves such questions that can reshape their perspectives and learn how to handle disappointments better. 

Comfort them with Your Experiences

If your child experienced disappointment from something that you have experienced before, sharing with them how you felt then can bring them comfort. For example, if your child does sports and did not win a competition at school, you can share with them a similar experience if you played sports back in the day. Let them know how you felt then when you failed to win and what you did to recover from the disappointment. A parent’s response to the disappointment could be rewarding himself or herself with ice cream after the match to feel better. 

This helps the child to see that they can still reward themselves for the hard work despite not winning, and acknowledge the effort put in. Let them know the outcomes of such actions; feeling better after acknowledging one’s own efforts. 

Another response could be in learning from mistakes and training harder. The outcome would be an improvement in technique and preparing for the next match productively. By letting your child know of possible actions to take after feeling disappointed, you can set an example and help them to follow in your footsteps. This way, they are comforted as they don’t feel alone in their experiences and know that there are solutions to recovering from disappointment. Children look up to their parents as role models, so it does come naturally to emulate what parents have done when they experienced disappointment too. 

Words of Encouragement

It can be difficult to control how you are feeling when things don’t go as planned. It can also be challenging for your child not to feel disappointed as well. While you cannot control how your child feels about the situation, you can give them words of encouragement while directing their thought processes with probing questions. It is important to address misconceptions that a child might have when they are faced with disappointment. For example, if they did not do well for an exam, they might be disappointed in themselves as they think that their grades define them. Help them to see that they are more than their written work by reminding them of their good traits and qualities. It would also be ideal to teach them the ways of positive self-affirmations. This way, children will learn to encourage themselves whenever they are met with setbacks or disheartening situations. These inculcate a healthy self-care mentality that can lower risks of having depression in the long haul. 

Learning from disappointments can be a daunting task. If your child is still in the process of picking up a skill, or learning from past mistakes, help them to understand that it takes time for them to get it right, and that they need to exercise patience and endurance if they want to succeed. Besides offering encouraging words to motivate them, help them to affirm themselves every time they try to improve. This reminds them that with every practise session, they are one step closer to reaching their goal. 

Disappointments are inevitable. It can come from environmental factors and can sometimes be out of your control. What can be within the control of your child includes changing their perspective of life’s disappointments and taking action to recover from them. Recovering from disappointment is not an easy journey for children, and helping them to recover from disappointment requires much care and attention. If you are interested in your child’s personal growth, check out EduPivot’s child development courses here.

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