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100 Tips for Nannies and Families

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Helping Your Child Cope with Disappointments

Life is filled with good times and bad.  Disappointments happen.  Healthy, successful individuals handle disappointments with grace.  How can you teach your child to handle disappointments well?

  • As a parent, you should have appropriate expectations regarding the learning process. Handling disappointments well is a matter of maturity. It is unreasonable to expect a toddler to handle disappointments with grace. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t (and shouldn’t) be using even toddler-era disappointments as teaching opportunities.
  • For each disappointment that your child experiences, acknowledge and validate your child’s grief or hurt about the cancelled vacation, the lost toy, the denial of a treat at the grocery store, etc. Then, when your child has finished expressing his/her disappointment-related emotion, you can begin dealing with the logic of the circumstance.
  • Discuss why the circumstance happened (for example, why the vacation was cancelled). Talk to your child about problem solving and “big picture” thinking (for example, that cancelling the vacation is required because of Daddy’s job, and Daddy needs the family’s support to make it through the difficult time at work). Emphasize empathy, choice, and silver linings. For example, you may tell your child that he/she likes to receive empathy from others, so he/she can then understand how important it is to give empathy to others. Acknowledge that your child has choices as to how to address his/her disappointment. Ask your child what his/her options are (if your child is toddler-aged, you may need to provide options for him/her). Help your child find positives in a negative circumstance. For example, if your vacation is cancelled, your child will get to spend more time playing with his/her friends.
  • Help your child put matters in perspective. Young children respond to most disappointments as if they are universally cataclysmic. As you are helping your child reason through his/her disappointment, help him/her understand the difference between a big disappointment (i.e., a cancelled vacation that has been eagerly anticipated for months) and a little disappointment (i.e., the denial of a treat at a grocery store).
  • When your child handles disappointments with grace, praise your child for his/her mature response.
  • Lead by example. When you experience disappointments, handle them with grace. Your child is watching what you do and will try to do what you do.

By following these tips, you can, over time, instill in your child the ability to handle disappointments with grace and set the stage for a healthy, successful adulthood for your child.  Check out Care4hire.com for more useful tips!

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