My View: Disappointment is a Valuable Teacher

sad girlI’m sorry you are disappointed — so am I. For all the parents who are hearing the frustrated cries of their children about things they are missing out on, this is your time to teach a critical life lesson. Don’t miss it.

Sometimes life doesn’t give us what we want. Sometimes we don’t get to do the things we love. Sometimes we have to change our plans for the greater good. These truths can be hard to accept, but it’s your job to help your child understand that sometimes they can’t have things their way, because it can hurt other people.

The social impact of the coronavirus pandemic is touching each of us. With most activities postponed or rescheduled, and many events being cancelled completely, nearly everyone has or will miss out on something they enjoy.

Kids are struggling to understand why their games were cancelled, practices are being called off, and even vacation plans have been abolished. As parents, the last thing we want to do is disappoint our little angels.

But you have been handed a great teaching moment. This is your golden opportunity to help your child begin to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them. They are a small part of the universe full of people — and each and every one of those people matter.

The beauty of this situation is that your child isn’t being singled out. They aren’t missing a vacation because you had to reallocate the vacation fund to pay for medical bills, they aren’t missing dance because they have a broken leg, and they aren’t the only ones who aren’t getting to do what they want.

Begin by explaining to your child that you understand they are unhappy about missing out on their activities and not getting to be with their friends. Talk to them about your feelings, sharing some of the things that you had planned that cannot happen and how you miss seeing your friends as well. Explain that by making these changes, we are part of helping other people not get sick.

Once you have acknowledged that it is reasonable to be sad about these changes, ask your child about their friends who are also missing out on activities. Encourage them to think about how their friends might be feeling, helping them see that this impacts many people.

Finally, talk with your child about how they can use their newfound free time to encourage others. Gather supplies to write notes or draw pictures for grandparents, send a letter to a friend who is also missing their activities or create small pieces of art that can be saved to put in holiday cards or delivered to senior centers after this is over.

Whatever you do, keep your child’s focus on how they can help others, rather than how unfair their life is. I guarantee you this lesson is one every child needs to learn, and the sooner the better.

Denise Mersmann
Hi! I’m Denise; wife to Doug for 36 years, mom to Kate who lives in DC and works at NASA, Caroline who became our angel at four months old and Ryan who is a junior at KState majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Physics and two fantastic felines, Walter and Arthur. I love to take pictures, cook and bake, watch sports, dabble in most any type of crafting and hang out with my family. Mostly out of necessity, I have become fascinated with social media and have a false sense of pride that I am better at it than most people my age. I have a constantly changing bucket list, mostly revolving around things I can do with friends or family and that doesn’t require me to address my solid fear of heights!