It’s easy to see who the stars are, in a play, on the ball field, and even in the classroom. Kids can identify what makes those people important to the show or team. Yet we know that most of those stars wouldn’t have achieved their success without the aid of others.
Of course, that’s a pretty heady concept. But accepting a lesser position in support of a larger undertaking is a life skill kids can, and should, learn. And most likely it’s a skill they’ll have to practice soon. Here’s how you can facilitate their learning (and help your child weather disappointment):
Empathize with the Letdown
If your child tried out for a team or a cast and didn’t make it, they’re bound to be disappointed, even if they do land a smaller role such as team manager or chorus line. Acknowledge their sadness without criticizing those who made the decision.
You can also show empathy by sharing your own story of rejection. But consider your timing. Jumping in right away can make it seem like you’re minimizing your child’s experience. Test your timing by phrasing it as a question: “Would you like to hear about a time when I faced a similar disappointment?”
Chris Gissell, former Major League Baseball player and founder of Baseball Dudes in Vancouver shares, “We as leaders in our kids’ lives, be that as a parent, teacher or athletic coach, are in a position to make a real impact on their lives with how we choose to handle [disappointing] moments with them. Encouragement, truth and uplifting words will be the difference in how this child moves forward from that moment . . .Words matter.”
Coax your disappointed child to move on. If your child has a melancholy personality, you may want to put a deadline on how long they can mope. Remind them they have more to do—whether focusing on something different, or putting effort into their supporting role.