Disappointment and Despair
Helping our children deal with disappointment can lead to healthy and happy adulthood for them. On the other hand, if children do not have the capacity to cope with the small disappointments of their childhood, they may be reduced to a state of despair when the challenges of the real world hit them. If we protect our children from all disappointment they will not be ready for even the smallest let downs of adulthood. We know there will be disappointments and learning to deal with them will create an atmosphere of victory and a belief in their ability to overcome adversity. Here are some conversation starters to help prepare your children not only to deal with difficult situations but to also train them up to be overcomers.
What has been your biggest disappointment?
Allow, even encourage them, to openly discuss the depth of their emotions during the situation they bring up. As they recount the event, listen for clues that could be turned into positives. For example, if they were disappointed that they missed going to a summer camp one year, remind them of the fun they would have missed if they had not been home when the bat flew down the chimney and your family had to camp out in the backyard until the pest control company arrived. (You get the idea)
When have you been disappointed but ended up being happy about the outcome?
Listen for an opportunity to praise them for hanging in there when things were tough. Remember, you are not raising them to be children, but to be mature, well adjusted adults. If they share a memory where you watched them make good decisions or act maturely, tell them how proud you were.
How did your ability to handle a disappointment help you realize that you can overcome?
Wow, this question might be a real eye opener for you as a parent. Every child has been disappointed about something. As you encourage them to see that they not only survived the circumstances but also learned something in the process, you are creating a positive memory that will help them in the years ahead.
Parents have an incredible opportunity to change the outcome for their children. As you intentionally starts conversations around the dinner table to encourage them to think, consider, and problem solve, you are parenting well. Try it — you will not be disappointed.