I had to disappoint one of my little friends today. It made me really sad. I had hoped to be able to accompany her on an overnight field trip for school, but the date happened to correspond with a required work date. It broke my heart to have to cancel and to hear the disappointment in my little friend’s voice.
Disappointment in life is inevitable, so how can we help our little ones deal with disappointments?
First of all, we need to help our children learn to deal with small disappointments so that when the bigger problems come, they are not so overwhelming.
I see parents every day trying to keep their little ones from being upset. From fixing special dinners, to running themselves ragged to get their child to every activity, to buying clothing that is not needed. The list goes on. Parents, it is OKAY to tell your child no. It is OKAY to let them be a little hungry. It is OKAY for them to miss an event. It is OKAY for them to experience disappointment.
In the case of my little friend, I tried to help her look at this from a different perspective. What if God is protecting her from something? What if He wants her to be at school that day to meet a new friend? What if His plan for her is better than the plan she wants for herself?
The sooner we learn these lessons and pass them on to our children, the more content we will all be.
I know of a child who was never told no. All through his years growing up he was given anything he wanted. His parents were divorced when he was very young and both parents felt some guilt about that. So, they tried to make up for it by never allowing him to experience any disappointment. Going out to eat? He chose the restaurant. Going to the movies? He chose the movie. He didn’t want anyone else to play with his toys or video games? They were locked in the closet so he wouldn’t need to share with anyone who came over. This went on his whole life. He grew up to become a very self-centered teen.
He had never been one to get in trouble, but one day he did something at school that caused him to be called into the principal’s office. He had to suffer the consequences of his actions. For the first time in his life he had to deal with major disappointment. And, he couldn’t deal with it. He ended his life that very day. Sixteen years old. His whole life ahead of him. But, he had no idea how to maneuver through this situation. He had never had to deal with disappointment.
Jesus told us himself in John 16:33 –“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We are going to have trouble. We are going to have disappointment. There is no getting around it! But we can trust God that his plan is better than our plan. When things don’t go our way, we can know that Jesus can give us peace.
So please parents – you do your child a disservice when you don’t allow him to learn how to work through the small disappointments of life. When you help your child maneuver through disappointment, you are helping to set a foundation of trusting God. And when the bigger disappointments come, your child will have the tools they need to handle it.