[Head of School Message] Coping With Disappointment

There is no question that parenting is hard work most days and one of the most difficult aspects of being a parent is coping with our children’s disappointment when things don’t turn out as they were hoping or expected. When our children come home upset we often have a primeval desire to protect and shield our children from disappointment as we don’t like to see our children hurting or upset.

Throughout their school lives there will be many situations your child faces when they are upset and might have to learn to cope with disappointment. Some of the common ones are;

  • When they miss out on a leadership position
  • When they sign up for a sports trial and they are not selected for the team
  • When they feel that they don’t get equal playing time in a game
  • When someone they think is not as good as them gets selected and they don’t
  • When they don’t get an award at Speech Day

All of these different scenarios can cause angst for our children, are an everyday part of life and need to be learnt to be dealt with.

As parents we have a responsibility to help our children cope with their disappointment and we should never make excuses for our children. Some things to avoid are:

  • Criticising the students who were selected or the teachers who made the decision
  • Telling your child that they really deserved it and they are being treated unfairly
  • Overreacting emotionally in front of our children

Instead, what you can do:

  • Before your child nominates themselves for an activity discuss with them the possibility that they may not be chosen and give them strategies to cope with their possible disappointment
  • Praise your child for having a go and encourage them to keep trying
  • Encourage them to be a good sport and congratulate the other students
  • Help them to place their disappointment into perspective
  • Explain that life isn’t always fair and there isn’t always a logical answer as to why things don’t happen for us.

Often, we are more disappointed than our children and we need to manage our reaction to situations as we are the most important role models in our children’s lives. If we don’t cope well with their disappointments and we react emotionally and we demonstrate this in front of our children then this is how our children learn to cope with disappointment.

Being able to cope with disappointment with dignity is an incredibly valuable life skill for us all no matter how old we are.

Mark Hemphill | Head of School