Working with Disappointment

Working with Disappointment

My son is just old enough to understand the idea of Christmas and Christmas presents.  This year, he discovered the joy of making a Christmas list, and had an endless supply of items to be put on his list.  This inevitably led to some disappointment when he opened his gifts and realized he did not get all the ones he wanted.

As parents, we want to give our child everything he or she wants, but of course, this is not always possible.  Disappointment is a fact of life, and it is important to teach a toddler how to handle disappointment in an appropriate manner. 

First, let your toddler know you understand how he feels, and that such feelings are acceptable.  It is okay to be disappointed, whether it be from not getting a certain gift to not being physically able to accomplish something they are trying to do.  Even if you think his feelings are unwarranted, it is a losing battle to try to disallow a feeling – we can’t control our feelings in the way we can control our actions.

Second, guide your toddler on the correct way to handle disappointment.  Throwing a fit should never be an option.  Try to focus your child on the positive aspects of a situation.  He may not have received the toy farm he had his heart set on, but that remote control construction toy sure is cool, isn’t it?  Refocusing his thoughts onto something positive will usually take away the sting of disappointment.

Situations like this, when a child doesn’t get something he wants, are good opportunities for learning and growing in a positive way.  As long as we help guide our children to understand the proper way to handle the negative things in life, they will soon learn how to be mature, responsible adults who can accept disappointment as the temporary thing it is.