At some point, every child doesn’t make the team, gets cut from choir, or just doesn’t have what it takes for the competitive dance troupe or cheer team. This disappointment will happen, and we’ve certainly experienced it in our household.
I’m quite proud of how my kiddos have handled this kind of disappointment, so I got to thinking about what we’ve done that may have made our kids cope fairly well in these very upsetting situations.
If you don’t get a promotion at work, do your kids hear you complaining about the guy in the office next to you who “stole” what should be your new job? Even worse, do you say to your kids “I have no idea why you got cut when you’re SO much better than Janey”? If you do this sort of thing, it’s time to cut it out. Don’t be that parent. Never bad mouth another child for being successful.
Even if your child didn’t make the team, encourage her to send a note or email to the coach or league thanking them for the opportunity. When your child runs into friends who did make the team, remind her to congratulate them. This can be a difficult conversation, so practice with your child first. Role playing the first encounter after a disappointment can help your child maintain their sad emotions while celebrating a friend.
Being disappointed is devastating, but is also completely normal. Don’t downplay it. They are entitled to those feelings. However, children need to be encouraged to also move on after an appropriate amount of time. Remind them of all the other activities going on in their lives and that they need to focus on those. Your child might appreciate working out a plan with you to increase their chances of making the team the next year. If your child got cut from a hockey team, perhaps enroll her in an extra power skating class. She will feel empowered that there is a plan for improvement.
Not making the cut is disappointing for kids, but it is equally gut-wrenching for parents to watch their kids go through this – especially if you do believe that your kid should have made the team. Don’t make the situation worse by letting your child think you are sad and disappointed. This is a time to teach perspective. This is a time for your child to re-adjust and consider Plan B.
Try to look at the silver lining – learning to deal with disappointment is an incredible life skill. There will be many disappointments in life for your child, so use the opportunity to provide them with the tools to deal with it appropriately.