I recently had a very disappointed 11 year old who did not get the role she worked so hard for in the school play. She practiced every night and asked her older sister to help her out so she would be really ready for the audition.
The day of the audition came and she was happy with the way she performed. She was so excited for the parts to be given out.
The following day she arrived home from school and mentioned nothing – later in the evening someone mentioned the audition and she burst into tears and really did not know what to say. We finally found out that she did not get the part she had hoped for. This was very hard to deal with as I knew she had prepared really well for it, drama is her thing and she really expected to do well.
What was I to do – she was heartbroken and overwhelmed with so many different emotions going on.
My kids coaching section on ‘dealing with disappointment and failures’ came to mind.
In this case I figured she had been ‘unlucky’ – she had prepared really well and things just did not go her way on the day. I needed to help her to deal with her emotion in a positive way –
1. We spoke about her feelings and how it was ok to be upset, angry and disappointed at the outcome of the audition – in drama you will always have days when you get the part and when you don’t.
2. I then shared some of my own feelings of failure and/or disappointment I experienced when I was her age
3. I spoke to her about failure and disappointment being a part of life and when they happen we have two choices on how to deal with them;
a. to let the failure/disappointment stop us going for our goals and dreams in the future or
b. to learn from our failure/disappointment, but it in a box and move on.
I reminded her that if she had given up after the first 10 times she tried to walk – what would have happened – she would still be crawling.
If she had given up after the first 10 times she tried to learn how to speak, what would have happened? – she would still be saying goo and gaga. (this brought a smile to her face)
This all helped but there was something else she was really upset about – her peers reaction.
Unfortunately her peers made fun of the ‘small’ part she did get and laughed about it (honestly not intentionally to hurt her) but as it turns out this was the worst part – she was so afraid that she would embarrass herself and make a fool of herself in front of her peers, she was adamant she was not taking part in the show.
Children want to fit in with other children. One of their greatest fears is their peers making fun of them, calling them a loser, laughing at them.
When this came out I asked her how she felt about the part before she got it, would she have found it funny, might she have laughed, not at the person who got the part but at the part itself. She agreed that yes she might have, as she is a door knob – (you have to see the humour in this)
I invited a few of her friends over and before long they were all playing together and she was laughing and happy.
All of our children will experience failure and disappointment during their younger years and it is so important that we try to teach them how to deal with these failures and disappointments. It is so important the way we, as parents, deal with their disappointments too. They do not want to let us down and disappoint us. Again communication is everything. In my situation if we did not talk about this she may well have not taken part in the play and may have never gone for another role. I am not being dramatic, this could very easily have been the outcome. Take the time to talk things out, give them the time to cry, be angry, be upset, this is a natural need before they can talk about it openly. Share your own experiences it helps to normalise things. Help them to learn how to deal with tough situations from a young age and you will prepare them for the many challenges they are likely to face throughout their life. This is a very important coping skill and one which will stand to your child forever.
Parenting is the hardest job any of us will every have and yet it is the only job that comes without training. You can only do your best.