teaching kids to understand disappointment

Yet another trip to NYC got canceled and Matilda's appointments pushed back. The disappointment hit me HARD. But, I chose to use it as an opportunity to teach the kids how to deal with disappointment - that nasty little friend that seems to pop up every now and then.

Here is what I did:
  1. I let them see me cry. I was sad - that feeling is real and I needed to express it. Parker was angry but once he saw me crying he gave me a hug and explained that he was sad too.
  2. We talked about it. But not for too long. Just long enough for each of us to express why we felt disappointed. Of course, Matilda didn't understand what was going on, but she chimed in and acted out being mad - and made us all laugh. We focused on making our actions speak louder than words.
  3. We brainstormed a new solution. Parker thought we could have more time to paint, Matilda suggested to take turns on the skis, Tyler figured we could just reschedule, and I voiced that everything I wanted to do could be done at a later date, and that a phone call with the transplant team would put me at ease.
  4. We expressed new feelings. As the disappointment wore off, I voiced what new things I felt: "Even though I was disappointed about missing the trip, I am having a really fun day and am glad to not be on the road under these conditions."; "Even though I felt sad yesterday, today I feel good."; "A trip to NYC in February will be just the adventure we need in between Christmas and Parker's birthday."
  5. We got back to our routine and made things as consistent as possible.
Yeah, I still feel a little disappointed. But life is full of disappointments and I have to believe there is a reason for everything. After all, "when one door closes, another one opens", am I right? Teaching my children a healthy way to deal with disappointment is more important to me than feeling sorry for myself or for them.

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