Inside:Seeing our kids struggle can be heartbreaking. But Helping teens cope with disappointment is part of showing them how discover their own inner strength.
As the tears rolled down his face, I sat there holding him tight.
Each sob came harder than the next, and with each rise and fall of his shoulders, I could feel his heart breaking, and mine along with it.
I wanted so much to rewrite this unforeseen plot twist of his life.
It would have been so easy to weave the words of this story differently for him by pointing fingers, placing blame and raging against the injustice of it all.
But while it might turn a nightmare into a fairytale for a little while, I knew all too well that other villains lay in wait.
So, instead, I chose to remain silent.
I could no longer kiss away this pain like his little boy boo boos.
All I could do was stay beside him, letting the sadness and anger and frustration wash over him until he was exhausted with it all.
Our kids are going to get knocked around in life and sometimes they are going to get knocked down.
It sucks as a parent to watch it happen.
Things will happen to them that are incredibly unfair. Decks will be stacked, games will be rigged, and politics and pettiness will have their part to play as well.
Then there will be times when there aren’t external forces conspiring against them.
They may suffer crushing disappointments when they don’t have quite enough talent to make the team or land a role in the school play. Dreams may be broken when they lack the test scores to get into the school they’ve always wanted to attend.
In some cases, they even sabotage themselves.
They don’t show enough heart or put forth enough effort. They fail to follow their own instincts or they just straight out make bad choices.
Life is hard, and we don’t want to let it harden our children.
But we also don’t want it to turn them into victims. We want them to be able to both overcome and to take ownership.
Is this possible?
We all know it is, but it requires us to accept one difficult truth.
As our children get older they don’t need us to save them, they need us to teach them how to save themselves.
Where do we begin when it comes to helping teens cope with disappointment and heartbreak?
We show them that we believe they are strong enough, by letting them fight their own battles without interfering.
And in time, our faith in them will build their faith in themselves.
We listen and provide advice, without telling them what to do or giving them step-by-step instructions, and soon they will have confidence in their own problem solving abilities.
Then there will be the times, like this one with my son, when all we can do is hold them while they cry.
And although you may feel powerless in those moments, take heart in knowing that you are actually teaching them the most powerful lesson of all – how to show empathy, compassion and love.
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