That's Life: Helping Kids Deal with Disappointment

When Your Child Sulks

Your child still gets upset easily, but it doesn't progress to a full-blown tantrum. In other words: She's halfway there. To continue to foster resilience, take these steps.

  • Give your child a choice when the unexpected happens. "Kids this age feel like they have even less control over their life than usual when something doesn't go their way," says Dr. Brooks. "But giving a child an opportunity to make a decision can be empowering and can turn the situation around." For example, you can say, "We can't go to the toy store now, but what toy would you like to play with?" or "Would you like to go tomorrow morning or afternoon?"
  • Find ways for your little one to help others. Volunteer together at your local nursing home, or let her lend a hand when you prepare dinner -- even though it might mean more of a mess for you. Selfless acts, even at this young age, start to give children a chance to put their own problems in perspective and help them feel they've made a positive difference -- an important attitude related to resilience.
  • Instead of rushing to "fix" a problem, whether it's a broken toy or a fight over the bigger shovel, help your child solve it herself. Although it might take time, she'll learn that she can make a bad situation better on her own.

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