Your Approach Makes All The Difference!
Sport is the perfect
vehicle to observe how children deal with disappointment. In a game, ultimately
someone wins and someone loses. I’ve seen 6th graders throw
themselves on the ground crying and punching the field in a fit of rage because
they lost. I’ve also seen loss pull a team together motivating them to work
harder and become better.
What made the difference?
How can I help my child handle disappointment?
Ask yourself these
- Can your child wait patiently for something they want or do they
throw a tantrum?
- Do you consistently give it to them right away to avoid the
- Do you consistently say “yes” when you know it should be “no”
because you don’t want them to be upset.
- Do you view disappointment as a normal part of life or something
to be avoided?
“delayed gratification” with children at an early age. It’s ok that they’re
upset that they don’t get what they want. It’s ok they’re disappointed. When
they cry you say, “I know you are upset because you can’t have that.” Let them
scream it out and be there with them. You will probably feel embarrassed or
ashamed if your child throws a tantrum in public but be consistent and know
that in the long run, your child will be better for it. They will learn to deal
with disappointment and know that when it happens they will get through it. Explore your beliefs and behaviors about
- Do you consistently compare
your child to someone who you think is doing better? How would you feel if you
were compared to others?
- Is Failure something
shameful or a lesson to embrace?
- If your child
struggles with a task do you jump in and do it for him or is he encouraged to
push through and possibly fail? If you always jump in, he will think he can’t
do it. And he will never have the chance to know failing at something is not
the same as being a failure.
- How do you deal with
failure? What parents role model becomes an integral part of a child’s learning
experience. Children observe everything we do (not say).
Studies show that children who aren’t allowed
to fail won’t handle disappointment well. Failure is a part of life. If it‘s
avoided, when it happens it can be devastating to the child. She may
internalize it and think she’s a failure, not that she failed that one task. Praise them on their effort, not the end
result. “I’m really proud of how hard you studied for that test.” You really
played well as a team. I know you practiced really hard!” This way you praise
the behavior. So although the team might lose, everyone is still a winner.
If you are interested in reading more:Permission to
Parent: How to Raise Your Child with Love and Limits
by Robin Berman MD