We all want to comfort our children after they suffer any kind of failure or disappointment. It’s only natural. But the best parents I’ve met have resisted the urge to “make it all better.”
Instead, they ask a simple question: “What happened?”
The question is asked kindly and respectfully, but the intention is clear: to help the child understand why she didn’t reach her goal. Where did she go wrong? Was she unprepared? Did she not work hard enough? Or is her talent simply in another area?
This kind of questioning may seem rather sophisticated for a young child, but will teach an important lesson: failure can be viewed as a springboard to improvement, not as a dead-end or a reason for self-pity.
Would most parents like to provide a disappointment-free life for their kids? Probably. But stop and think for a moment: Is that realistic? Do you know anyone who has not had to confront disappointment or failure? Given that reality, dont we do our kids a greater kindness when we support them in learning from disappointment than when we try to shield them from it entirely?
Parents who react to their children’s failures in this manner provide skills that will last a lifetime. In other words, they raise people who are able to recognize their own competence — and never give up!