How many times have you wanted something so badly only to miss out? Bidding on a house, going for a new job, loving a dress and your size is sold out, bidding on Trade Me (yes all first world problems!).
It is natural to feel disappointed and the level of disappointment is dependent on the enormity of what you were after. Sometimes, a few tears of disappointment are natural. Sometimes a sense of injustice comes from the disappointment (why didn’t they pick me?). Sometimes, just a shrug and it goes out of your head.
The things that can cause disappointment in children are at a lower level than adults’ disappointments – not being picked for a team, a friend being mean, not becoming a councillor or house captain, not getting what they asked Father Christmas for, not being in a class with their friend, not getting the new teacher they wanted, coming second, not first. However, the feelings engendered by the disappointment are just as strong.
Children can sometimes amplify their sense of disappointment and parents can look at their child going way over the top with their crying or wailing or anger and try to rationalise the disappointment. We need to remember that children don’t have the same maturity as we do, so rationalising the disappointment, or offering platitudes doesn’t work. Don’t try to downplay it, acknowledge their disappointment. In dealing with disappointment loudly, they get it out of their system and do eventually move past it. They haven’t yet learnt to be stoic and deal with disappointment in a socially acceptable way, so this is the best way for them to work through it.
As adults, once we have worked through our feelings, we can put the whole thing in perspective. Children struggle with the notion of putting something in perspective. They are, by nature, egocentric, so they are not capable of seeing it from another perspective. Don’t try to convince them, just let them go through the disappointment and the feeling of being aggrieved. They will get over it.
I have said things like, never mind, if you practise hard, then you will get in the team next year but the child doesn’t care about that, they are in the here and now. I should say, oh that’s a shame, no wonder you are feeling disappointed and leave it at that. But I can’t help myself, I try to offer a solution because I hate seeing children so disappointed that they are upset or angry. Waste of time!
My daughter is currently trying to buy a house but keeps missing out. After I said to her, “oh well, that just means there is something better out there for you.” She said to me through gritted teeth, “if you say that one more time…. It is NOT helpful!” so perhaps it’s not just children but all of us who need to need to wail and cry to get over our disappointment!
I’ve learnt that it is better for me to acknowledge a person’s disappointment rather than try to minimise or rationalise it… but I will probably keep trying to be the person that makes them feel better by trotting out a few platitudes!
Reminder – Curriculum Levels
This year, the achievement expectations on your child’s report are against the levels in the New Zealand Curriculum. The chart below shows how the curriculum levels align with year levels: