Hi Ms. Pat,
My 6 years old daughter cries easily in handling even “simple” disappointment. For example, this morning she requested to have breakfast of a toast with some butter on it and a piece of cheese on the side. I told her ok and took out bread and cheese on the kitchen table. I needed to go to restroom and then I left the kitchen. My husband who did not hear her request but seeing the bread and cheese on the table put the cheese on the bread and microwaved it. My daughter saw it and she was disappointed and told her daddy that it’s not what she wanted. Her daddy told her to go ahead and eat it. She then burst into tears and came running to me telling me that daddy had put the cheese on the bread. I acknowledged her disappointment and explained to her that her daddy did not know her request She still kept on crying.
She cries easily such as if her particular pencil is used by her sister and she did not get to use it at that time or knowing it that they will take turn to use the pencil….. The only things I know to help her is 1) acknowledging her disappointment, 2) teaching her to verbalize her disappointment, 3) explaining to her how or why things happen, 4) asking her to think of how Jesus would react, and 5) sometimes asking her to have self-control of her emotions. However, she still keeps on crying easily and seems having difficulty in handling simple disappointment. Please teach us how to wisely handling situation like this. Thank you very much!
I can understand that this problem causes you concern. Of course, life does bring disappointments. Some are small and some are not so small. Learning to handle the disappointments of childhood is necessary preparation for handling the larger disappointments that your daughter will one day face.
The things you list are exactly the right things to do to help her. I do have a few more specific suggestions to offer.
At a calm time, discuss with your daughter the need for learning to stay calm when things don’t go her way. Six-year-olds are typically ready to become more actively involved in their own development than younger children, so she may respond well to the idea of working with you to help develop the skill of handling her emotions.
Help her choose or develop several “self-calming” techniques. That could be taking deep breaths, talking to or holding a pet, making something creative, or maybe just going outside. The idea is this: when she feels sad and disappointed, instead of crying, she should learn to say “STOP” to herself. Substitute one of the calming techniques for crying. At first, you can prompt her but the goal is for her to develop the habit of stopping herself from crying by using something that helps her calm down.
It is also important for you to model dealing with disappointment in a calm and God-honoring way. In regular conversation, point out when you or your husband or a sibling have something disappointing happen. “I really wanted to be able to buy a dress today, but I couldn’t afford it. Maybe next time.” Look for opportunities to affirm any family member, including your six-year-old, who stays calm in an upsetting situation.
Sometimes disappointments are caused by other people. Help your daughter learn to see things from other people’s point of view. This is a skill that has to be nurtured and developed. For example, “Can you tell me what Daddy might have been thinking when he saw the bread and cheese?” It sounds like you are already working on this. Don’t give up! It does not come naturally to any of us to place others ahead of ourselves, but it is a discipline to develop.
Finally, help her see that God is pleased when she stays calm and that He can help her. Pray with her, asking God to help her learn to stop her crying and remain calm.
You are doing such a great job of parenting your little girl. Keep it up!