Published On: Mon, Aug 20th, 2012

Helping Kids Cope With Disappointment

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

One way to help our kids deHelping Kids Cope With Disappointmental with the little disappointments in life is to become the parent with WITT. The parent who communicates to their child “We’re IThis Together.” Parent or child, we all want to feel someone is on our team. Does your child know without hesitation you’re on theirs?

Will at two and a half sits in his car seat. We are off to pick up Aidan and Bella from preschool. I start to back out of the driveway when Will announces looking at his boots. “I want fire shoes, fire shoes.” Now, anyone that has a two year old will know that I sat there after this announcement cringing in my seat. I had no time to run up and get the stupid fire shoes! Now if I tried to explain this to Will, I would of ended up with the good old tantrum all the way to preschool, and then on arrival struggle with him as I try to get him out of the car seat, arms and legs everywhere. Then of course there would of been the good old walk of total embarrassment to look forward to as I carry the screaming child into preschool. I gather my thoughts.

Thoughts gathered, I turn to Will and say, “Will, that is such a good idea, when we get home we put those fire shoes on and you can run around the backyard!  I leave him no time to throw in the “now” and quickly continue. Are you faster than daddy”? “Yes I am”. “Faster than Bella?” “Yes” he announces proudly. What about faster than mummy?” “Yes!” As I begin to back out of the driveway I engage him in our conversation about fast running with gusto. Distraction had worked, and our preschool pick up was blissfully uneventful.

Once back home Will had forgotten all about the good old fire shoes, and do you think I was in a rush to remind him? No! I at the time was simply thankful that he had forgotten as I ran around like a nutter trying to get dinner on so I could get out the door for work on time. Your not a bad parent if you don’t remind your kids about every little thing they have asked you, but… what if Will did remember? What if, as soon as we walked in the door… “mummy fire shoes now?” Well, I simply would of told him to go grab them and even what great remembering from him.

Now I know what some of you are thinking. Yeah, but what happens when its bedtime and he remembers! You can’t possibly follow through then on what you have said. Well the good parent always strives to follow through with what they say, however its 7pm, dark and cold. This is simply not an option. So, what to do. You become the parent with WITT. The parent that communicates to their child through their actions and words that  We’re IThis Together. Kids can cope so much better with disappointment if they know they are understood and not alone. So how do we get this message across to them?

Well in this case, you put on your drama hat like you’re an old pro from NIDA. “Will I forgot! Did you forget too? Oh no, I am so disappointed. I was looking so forward to watch you running so fast! Oh dear. I know. Maybe we can put the shoes somewhere so we don’t forget tomorrow. Where hmm? Should we put them here by the door or by your bed?” “My bed.” he says. “Now don’t you forget in the morning will you. It’s very important” I tell him.

By being a parent with WITT, you help your kids to understand that you get it. You understand the sadness, annoyance, frustration, anger. If I had told Will not to be so silly and that we couldn’t go out in the dark, do you think that would of made the situation any easier? Of course not.

I recently met a mum who explained how she had taken her daughter to her first gymnastics session only to approach the instructor on arrival and be told there was a mix up. Her daughter was infact unable to start that day but could do so next week. After many apologies and a “goodbye see you next week” they walked back to the car. The young girl then began to mo
pe much to the annoyance of her mother who snapped at her, “don’t be so silly, your acting like a baby.” The sulking continued and the protesting began.

After listening to her daughter, she realised, Yes, that IS annoying and unfair. Instead of snapping at her, she was now agreeing with her! Once she acknowledged her daughters feelings and let her know that she understood how she could be so angry, her daughter began to start the process of getting over it ,and moving her thoughts on.

Some parents are so good at displaying WITT, that their children can be the ones reassuring them! In the shoe case, “don’t worry mummy, I will remember for you tomorrow.” Ahhh bliss.

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2012
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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