Have Your Child Experience Disappointment — it’s OK!

“I’ll take complete responsibility for my decision,” my 8 year old told my husband and I one summer morning while we were out on an excursion. Uncertain if he was making the wisest choice, his comment made us smile and we let him experience disappointment.

I usually have two full time jobs – that of a school Principal and that of a mother. While spending six months away from the paid work world, I socialized much with other mom’s and dear friends. Over coffee, I was chatting with a friend who is an educational psychologist about what really matters in child rearing and our conversation landed on disappointment. We all want our children to be happy but one of life’s most valuable lessons is to experience disappointment, learn coping strategies and move on.

I met weekly with a group of moms and everyone has the bear instinct — protect your child at all cost. What parent doesn’t want their child to be happy? If that’s your goal, have them learn to cope with failure.

It is so refreshing when a parent enters my office allowing their child to take responsibility for their mistake, without defending them with phrases like, “My child wouldn’t do that!” or “My child doesn’t lie!”  By defending your child, it only adds pressure for your child not to own up to their mistake and learn from their not so perfect behaviour.

Parents can help their children by allowing them to speak their truth without having to worry about their parent’s judgement and the pressure of being perfect. Have your child experience disappointment. Instead, why not say to your child, “I love you unconditionally. What matters most is that you take responsibility for your actions, learn from mistakes and move on.” A life lesson is to understand that we are not perfect — the earlier your child learns this, the happier he or she will be.

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