How do you teach children about disappointment?

One important aspect of parenting is teaching your kids to deal with disappointment. At some point in life, they WILL face it. Therefore, it’s important that we teach them how to handle it when it comes.

But I get it! It can be tough to teach children about disappointment. Oftentimes, we want to shield them from the hard things in life but then they miss out on important lessons. Plus, when you don’t let your child experience some disappointments now, they will likely have more difficult ones later in life.

I love these three tips for how you can help your child learn about disappointment and use it as a learning opportunity! You’ll find that teaching them how to handle disappointment early on is preparing them for success later in life.


When my daughters were young, I still remember the time they came home from church all excited and nervous. They were trying out for a part in the Christmas play that their choir was performing, and had just gotten their scripts. They both enjoy acting and worked hard all week to memorize their lines and say them with proper expression.

I was excited for them and helped them practice. At the same time, I knew there were two other kids practicing those same parts and each of them also wanted to be in the play! Knowing there was a good chance that my daughters wouldn’t get the parts and that they could be terribly disappointed, I decided to use this wonderful opportunity to teach them a little about how to deal with disappointments.

Here are some steps to take when teaching your child how to deal with disappointment:

1. Watch your own words and reactions, Mom.

I could easily have given my daughters false hopes (and wrong attitudes!) by saying things like: “You should get the part. After all, you’ve had more experience!” Or, “She’s had parts before – they should let you have a chance! That’s only fair.

These kinds of statements will not help your child. They will also undermine the authority of whoever is making the final decision. Purposely choose to guard your words! It’s so easy as loving moms to be biased and to wish only good for our kids. We hate to see them hurt. However, often good can come from experiences that hurt or bring disappointment. Talk openly about times when you have felt disappointed and what helped you through it.

2. Discuss their feelings and motives.

First, I asked the girls why they wanted the parts. Their biggest reason was that they like acting because it’s fun.

I then asked what the reason for doing the play was. Of course, the answer was to be a blessing to those watching.

3. Have them pray.

Pray together for God’s guidance on how to handle any disappointments they may be facing now or will face in the future. Encourage them not to give up hope and stay strong when faced with these challenges -Tell them that although it might seem like there is no reason to keep going sometimes since the purpose of the play was to be a blessing to others, I encouraged the girls to pray and give their desires to God.

“Tell Him how much this means to you, and then give Him that desire. Ask Him to choose the people He wants to use.”

This will help them in two ways. One, giving it to God will give them peace about the outcome.

Second, it will keep them from wrong feelings toward whoever did the choosing or got chosen. (You don’t want them to become jealous.) You can take this a step further when the decision has been made. Have them thank God for choosing the ones He did for the part (because He knows best), and ask Him to help each of them to do their best and be a blessing. You can use this idea anytime your child really has his hopes up about something. 

How do you explain disappointment to a child?

There was a situation one time where my daughter wanted to do something special VERY much. She was constantly talking about it. The final decision depended on someone else though and was out of my control.

I told her to pray and tell God that if He wanted her to be able to do it to please work it out. If He didn’t work things out, she’d know that since He is in control, it was best that she didn’t do it. This really helped her and when she wasn’t able to get her desire, she still had peace. What a difference from crying and moping as many kids and adults would do!

Teach your kids while they’re young to give God their desires and let Him help with their disappointments. He won’t disappoint them!

When we give our desires to God, He truly helps us with our disappointments. This is a great time in their lives to teach your kids this lesson and encourage them in their faith—even when they’re disappointed!


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2 Responses

  1. Kim, thanks for stopping in, and for your encouraging words!

  2. This is a wonderful post and so important to do with children. Life is full of disappointments, we had better know how to handle them and move on from them. When our kids can’t accept that some things will never be, that life involves failures or that things will go wrong and they need to be able to be able to recognize their part in what happened so that they can learn from it and do better next time. Otherwise you have kids out there that don’t accept responsibility for their actions in life and keep wondering why things aren’t going so well.

    I still remember the lessons my parents taught me when I was young. I didn’t know how valuable they were then…but I sure do now.

    Stopping by from Wise Woman Link Up.

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