Supporting your tween through disappointment
By: Bernice Maune
Your tween is at a stage in their lives where they are eager to impress at school and at home.
Create a healthy environment where they can ‘fail forward’ and retain their confidence through disappointments which are a normal part of life.
We’ve come up with several suggestions which can foster a balanced environment for your tween while helping them to work through life’s disappointments.
Communication is vital
Talk to your tween about a failure they have experienced and allow them to give you the details. If you sense they may be holding back, don’t pester them to share. Instead speak in an understanding tone and hear them out. Limit questions and prompt them to speak by listening and acknowledging their disappointments.
All a part of life
Tell your tween that disappointments are a part of life and not achieving a high grade or not getting picked for the netball team is not the end of the world. By getting them to understand that timing is important and sometimes another person has achieved or has access to what they want at a certain time, this will show them that they can always try again and teaches them that they too can be happy for others.
Turning setbacks into comebacks
Your tween can turn a setback into a comeback by taking a lesson from a failed experience and using that to become better. Have they lost a friend? Tell them that this is the perfect opportunity to make new friends. Or it could be a chance for them to learn a new skill and make new friends while at it. The key is to show them how to find a lesson in a setback that they can use to propel themselves forward.
Losing doesn’t have to be sore
If your child is disappointed after losing a match or game at school then this is the perfect opportunity to lift their spirits and help them find the silver lining. Take them out for ice-cream and make a joke about the game. Highlight their strengths and focus on how well they did. Not only is that an opportunity to bond but you are also teaching them that they don’t have to be a sore loser and can find ways to cope and make themselves feel better after a disappointment.
Being happy for others
Talk to your teen about their disappointment and if it involved losing out to another child, speak to them about how they are feeling. The aim is to urge them to be healthy competitors and to explore their feelings before they turn bitter. This also helps them to be happy for other people’s wins even if it may be at a loss to themselves.
Not making a big deal out of disappointments
Approaching disappointments positively also entails not focusing on the disappointment in itself but looking at how it can improve one’s skills. Teach your child that since disappointments are a natural way of life and are bound to happen they can choose how to react to each one. Blowing a disappointment out of proportion will lead to them feeling bad while looking at it strategically with an ‘I’ll do better next time attitude’ will enable them to cope in future.
Disappointment can be hard for tweens to deal with but as their parent you can make it easier for them by being there and guiding them each step of the way.
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