Dealing with disappointment and your child

by | Jun 9, 2022 | Blog

dealing with disappointment and your child

It’s every parent’s nightmare, receiving a call from their child’s teacher or Principal. As a Principal myself, I am often the one making these calls, however, this week I received one from my child’s school. Every bit of advice I’ve ever offered to parents went out the window as I uttered the words, HE DID WHAT? WHY? WHAT WAS HE THINKING? Clearly he was not!

Why do we react like this – firstly sheer disbelief that a perfect product from our perfect little world could be so foolish – or is it just the sheer embarrassment of realising that my child, like myself and every other human being, is NOT perfect!

I think as parents we need to be honest about our own anger, disappointment, sadness and embarrassment regarding our child’s choices.

A strong conviction of mine is to ‘train up a way a child in the way he should grow so that when he is old he will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6 – the key word is train. Yes, our children can make us mad at times, but if we scream and shout at them, how do we train them not to scream and shout at their siblings when they are having a disagreement? We can’t always choose our feelings but we are responsible for what we do with them.

Anger is a way of disguising our more vulnerable emotions. We attack instead of acknowledging the fact that we are hurt, fearful or feeling powerless. So what if instead of reacting straight away, we step back from the situation, breathe and become vulnerable with ourselves? Ask yourself, is it because I care so much that it hurts, am I afraid that I’ve messed up, have I damaged my child? As we acknowledge the emotions behind our feelings, we no longer need to use the anger as a defence.

Once our anger fades, we will feel more empowered to take constructive action. Clarity regarding the situation will start to set in and we will be able to train and coach our child in the way he or she should go, instead of filling him or her with fear. Actually, being authentic and honest with your child gets the best results by convincing them of the seriousness of their behaviour and choices.

I love the example of what Gandhi reportedly asked when his grandson lied to him, “What about me wasn’t safe enough for him to trust me with the truth?’ Wow, if we could all ask ourselves questions like this before we attack, I think we would start problem solving far more effectively.

Children are exactly that – children. They will experiment and break rules but we should try and use every opportunity to coach them through it. Set clear and kind limits of what kind of behaviour is acceptable and give your child the support they need to manage themselves better.

So you must be wondering what happened with my child? Did I react appropriately to my child? No – I told him how disappointed I was and I ranted and raved. I did however, reflect on my reaction, and I apologised and we discussed a better way forward. We all make mistakes but our Father in heaven still opens His arms wide, loves us and forgives and perhaps we can realise that nothing is so bad that there isn’t a workable solution that will result in a closer and more authentic relationship with your child. Love never fails!

Michelle McMenamin

Michelle McMenamin


Michelle McMenamin has been educating young South Africans since 1994. She became the Principal of Knights Preparatory in 2002 and is passionate about educating and equipping young children to grow in their God-given talents. Michelle believes that as children become secure in their uniqueness, they are able to realise their purpose and make an impact on the world around them. She loves working with children and moulding their dreams.

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