Today, I had the opportunity to ponder how to teach my oldest about disappointment.
Our church is running Vacation Bible School. Part of the program involves kids getting tickets for good behavior. While Miss N was not behaving badly, she did not get chosen today for a ticket. It’s just the way these things go sometimes. Children also earn prizes for bringing visitors, but since the program is technically open to those leaving kindergarten, and our friends are all in preschool, that won’t work either.
At the end of the session when the children who earned tickets were lining up for prizes, I could see the tears starting. Miss N LOVES candy and stuffed animals, which were the main prizes being offered. Being only four, she really didn’t understand why just some of the kids got candy.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to handle her tears. She wasn’t having a fit, but she was truly sad. I hurt for her, because I know it is a hard lesson to learn. I remember one time when I was little like her, and my parents were helping in the Junior Church program at our church. My mom’s job was to pick the “quiet seat” child. I tried so hard to be good, but of course she couldn’t pick me, her own kid. Afterwards when I was crying, she took me to the store to buy something because I had been good.
I wasn’t sure what to do for Miss N. While I don’t think my mom was wrong to buy me a toy in that instance, I also don’t want to start a precident. After all, N is usually very well behaved in classes and at church things, and she won’t always get the “quiet seat” prize. I can’t be buying her candy or toys every time someone else gets a reward.
I resisted the urge to get her a candy on the way home, although I wanted to. I just let her cry, and calmly explained she could have another opportunity to earn a ticket the following day. I also assured her that I did see that she was being a good girl, and that she needed to try to be a good girl again tomorrow. After she was fed and no longer crying, I explained how the program worked and what she could expect. I should have done that beforehand. It just didn’t occur to me.
Maybe I will pray tonight that she gets noticed tomorrow. :)
So, mommies, how do you teach a preschooler to handle disappointment? It’s not a skill I have fully mastered as a grown up, so how can I expect my very young child to master it? Perhaps her response was fine and just letting her cry for a bit out of disappointment was the right answer. Hmmmm.