These 3 Ways to Help Your Child Through Disappointment Are Essential Tools Every Mom’s Gotta Have

Do you remember your first true disappointment in life? Maybe you worked hard on a project in school and received a B when you were certain you’d earned an A. Perhaps a friend you’d had since childhood suddenly found new friends and you were left out. Or maybe you spent hours preparing for an audition and, instead of being named the lead, you were offered the role of understudy.

Those early disappointments can become powerful influences in how we face difficult seasons later in life. As we get older, we realize life is full of challenges and even heartbreak. But I’m not sure there is anything more difficult for a momma than to watch her child face heartbreak and disappointment.

Last week, my girl experienced what will likely be that first true disappointment in her life. Her heart was broken as something she had worked for two years to achieve didn’t happen. And I felt helpless! As I watched the pain and sorrow in her eyes, I prayed for wisdom.

In those hours {and these days that have followed}, the Lord has guided me to three ways to walk with her through the hurt. And, I figure if we’re facing disappointment in our house, there’s probably at least one or two of you facing it at yours.

First, give her space to process.

As mommas we want to fix it! But as our girls get older {mine is now 15}, they need the space and time to process how they feel without us jumping in too soon. When my girl received her news, we just sat on the couch and cried.  Both of us. I joined her in her lament and held her close. As she gradually pulled away, I wanted to keep holding her … but she needed to begin to sort through all her feelings. When we walked into her room and shut the door, I sat on the couch and prayed. Over the weekend, we talked about the situation and gradually she has come to see the really good things now possible. But she can be both disappointed and excited at the same time — I have to let her!

Second, remind her she is more than what she does.

On Wednesday afternoon, after she heard the news and as it sunk in, she began to feel like a failure. It was important for me to remind her that who she is doesn’t hinge on what she does. As much as the loss stung, it didn’t define her unless she allowed it to. Those feelings of insecurity and doubt and failure are familiar to me — I deal with them too.  And over the past few days I’ve been able to share with her about some of my own disappointments, both when I was her age and recently. Rather than lecturing her or sermonizing, I’ve simply shared my own process of learning to see myself as God sees me.

Finally, point her back to Truth.

While I tried very hard not to lecture or give her a sermon, I did lead her back to truth. I reminded her we can trust God’s sovereignty. We discussed passages in Scripture where others had lamented before God and how He met them in their sorrow. I reminded her Jesus faced disappointments and that she is not alone. We talked about God’s plans for us as His creation and I shared with her how I’ve learned to lean into the truth that what He does and allows is always for our good and for His glory … our job is to learn to see that and trust it, even when we can’t see how.

As our girls get older, life does get harder. But we were not meant to do this life on our own and in our own strength. It’s hard to lean into that for ourselves sometimes and even harder to guide our girls to do the same. But it’s so important that we teach our daughters to walk in this truth: We can always trust God’s plan for us. Always. Even when we’re disappointed or hurt. Even when it doesn’t seem to make sense.  Even when we can’t see how.

How do you help your daughter learn to lean into God when life is hard?

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Teri Lynne Underwood
Teri Lynne Underwood is a pastor’s wife, ministry speaker, and Bible teacher. As the founder of www.PrayersforGirls.com, Teri Lynne is a cheerleader for girl moms and the author of Praying for Girls: Asking God for the Things They Need Most.