I brought my nephew to a toy store once. Only because I promised him to bring him there if he finished his Mathematics homework. The much awaited moment of opening the toy box was soured when a mishap occurred – the box was empty. I was sure it was unintentional, maybe some kids opened the box and took the toy out. But the unlucky boy on the other end was my nephew, who handled it like a real pro- a full package tantrum of throwing things around, screaming and bawling.
I felt guilty. Because I figured, a little boy should not be hurt. A little boy should get what he wanted. But, there’s only so long miles we could go to protect our little ones from inevitable rejections and frustrations. Rather than protecting them, we should teach them how to deal with all these things so if they didn’t get the balloon animals from a clown at a friend’s birthday party, they wouldn’t be so disappointed.
1) Effort, not achievement, matters more.
Congratulating children on their achievements rather than the effort can send a wrong message- you don’t care about how they do it you just care about how it turns out. Furthermore, highlighting on the process more than the outcome can get your children interested in learning. Researchers from University of Chicago and Stanford University showed that children whose parents praise them on their effort rather than their achievement are more open to new challenges, better at problem solving and are more likely to believe they could improve themselves by working hard (The Telegraph).
2) Teach your children to set realistic expectations
A 6-year-old-girl might get excited to organise her first birthday party. Maybe a 7-year-old-boy was excited to see Robi the robot for the first time at One Utama during the weekend. But, people do not show up to parties sometimes and there are so many people queueing up to meet the robot that we could only see them from afar. As parents, you can teach your children that plans are possibilities, not guarantee. Come up with possibilities that might occur in your plan. So, when things didn’t go as you planned, they wouldn’t be as frustrated.
3) Fail with class
A person’s internal character is portrayed when he handles failure. Shankar Achintya states that a person can become stronger and more successful in the future by accepting today’s failure. When your child encounters failure, talk to them about rising above and being mature. Your child would be happy when he realises that by being mature about not winning, he is gaining respect from his friends.
4) Be a good role model
You are your children’s first teacher. Your actions are observed and copied by your children. Children also perceive your small incidents or problems as big deals because they haven’t learned to evaluate the size and importance of a particular problem. That said, panicking over small issues or getting mad when things don’t go your way is not a good example for your children.
5) Teach children to delay gratifications
A professor at Stanford University conducted an experiment that studied children’s ability in delaying gratification and its effect in their life many years later- The Marshmallow Experiment involved children aged 4-5 years old as participants by putting them in a room with a marshmallow and gave them the choice to eat the marshmallow then or wait 20 minutes and get one more marshmallow. Professor Mischel, the researcher tracked the participants track until they grew up. His data showed astounding result. The children who resisted to eat the marshmallow within the given time proceeded to be successful in life. (You can read more about it here.)
But, it doesn’t mean that you have to put your child in a room and give him a marshmallow. Look around you and you might see something similar to work with. For example, brushing the teeth before sleep which I believe can be challenging for parents to get their children to do. Or maybe get your children to tidy up the unused fischer TiPs after their playtime.
6) Come up with alternatives
Sometimes, the TV shows things that children want but parents can’t afford to buy it. You can teach your children that if they can’t get what they want, they can come up with something like that on their own. Think of other alternatives such as making homemade toys or trying this list of hands-on learning resources without giving away the bucks.
I know, no parents in the world would like to see their child gets hurt. But, although it’s ironic, disappointment is good for your child. When they grow up, they have to face with bigger disappointment and when else to teach them to deal with it if it’s not now.
About Brain Bytes
Brain Bytes focuses on hands-on project based learning to create an engaging learning experience for students to spark their interest in S.T.E.A.M. subjects. We strongly believe in learning from playing and making, that’s why Brain Bytes provide tools, programs and events to engage students to learn.