Parenting Thoughts on Children Who Deal with Disappointment

I am writing this out of emotion. As I sit at my half done work studio and stare out into the street, my heart is breaking. My daughter cried, she was upset but too proud to say so and tried to push me away when I offered a hug. 

Last week, she told me proudly how she signed up to run for President of the School Organization. I knew we were not ready as a family to commit to such a large task but we agreed to support her. We prepared her as much as we could, I helped her with her speech, printed her officers badges and made her a t-shirt. 

We helped her with her speech, but we also reminded her that she has to understand that she might not win. She nonchalantly answered, “It’s okay - at least I experienced it”. We knew she was not ready but as parents, my husband and I felt it was best to support her and make sure we were prepared for the outcome. 

The night before debate day, she approached me with how she was irritated by one of her officers and I said “ This is what leadership is like…not everyone will like what you do or decide, but you also need to learn how to meet in the middle.” I guided her on how to respond and to remove her emotions from the scenario. She nodded and thanked me after, I could see in her eyes that she felt a little enlightened. 

Debate day went well, she was happy as the entire party had to dance (which she loves) and she happily showed me the video of their TikTok mash up dance, she danced well and the crowd even sang along. I asked her how the debate went and she said it was okay but she has a strong feeling they will win. I said, “That’s great then, but what if you don’t?” - she said again “it’s okay!”.   

Then election day came, she was not so well but she got up early and persisted to go to school. Later in the afternoon when she arrived home, she told us that she did not win. We asked, how do you feel? “It’s okay - at least I experienced it”, she responded. She went about her to-do's and my husband said to me, "It hasn't sinked in yet." As, I was setting up my office for the work day, I returned to the living room and I heard my daughter crying while washing the dishes. "She now realized she is sad, but she is just too proud to say so." My husband said while looking at me with a half-smile. 

When she was done with the dishes, I sat on the chair with tears welled-up and her eyes were sad. I asked her for a hug but she refused to do so and like a 5-year old, shook her head. I said "Okay, I won't hug you. Just come sit with me." She heavily moved towards me and sat down. "It's okay to be sad, okay?" "Why are you sad?" She told me it was a build of of things that happened in the day: first, she saw that their campaign posters were vandalized with drawings on their faces, second, she felt bad that she was being teased by others and third, the loss of the campaign. She leaned into me and sobbed a bit. 

"Anak (child), you know that there was a chance you wouldn't win right?" She nodded and sobbed, "It is honestly not new that campaign posters are vandalized, it is done by people that have nothing to do and thought it would be funny."  "Remember, the Mayor that you like? Her posters were vandalized too, so it happens to anyone and not because it was you." 

"It's okay to fell bad, but did you know that hugs make people feel better? I just want to make you feel better." Then, she hugged me and cried more. My heart broke as this was the first time I saw her deal with this type of disappointment. "Maybe now is not the time for you to lead, but there will be other opportunities to do so. When the time is right."

After this talk, I can see that she was still upset but toned down and after a few hours she was back to her jolly self. The point is, I realized how important it was to set the right expectations for our children. It’s easy to tell them “You can do it!”, but what if they failed? It’s okay to motivated but don’t overdo it making them feel they they can do anything and it will always go their way. 

Afterall, we also failed in the past right and we learned from it to. 

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