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Dealing with disappointment

Scottish Caitlyn

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Apr 8, 2019
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Hi guys and girls, I'm new here, my 8yr old daughter is a gymnast and swimmer so is very active and therefore healthy as well.

Anyway, my first post is regarding a competition that she was competing in with her group at the weekend.

The competition didn't go well, she felt like she lost her team the competition but all her team told her that it was a team effort so they were all to blame. Anyway, when we got home, she threw her gear on the floor, ran upstairs crying hysterically whilst shouting out loudly, "I'm useless".

It was so hard for me to hear that so, what could I have done differently in order to prevent the full blown tantrum :(?
 

Flyaway

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Jun 1, 2014
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Sorry to hear that she took it so hard. It sounds like she has a supportive team, so that's good! I think some kiddos are prone to being over-dramatic and honestly, when one of my kiddos is acting that way I have a tendency to just give them space and not talk about it with them until they've calmed down. I've found that the more I try to engage with them or reassure them in the moment, the worse it gets. Usually, if they are REALLY feeling down (not just acting out), they are willing to have a reasonable conversation about how they feel once the dramatic moment has passed. If it's just drama for drama's sake, once it passes they forget about it completely. So I sit back and see which direction it goes and take it from there. I hope that makes sense!
 

NutterButter

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Hi! Welcome to CB! Your DD's reaction to me sounds age appropriate. She's still very young and most 8 year olds are still learning how to channel frustration. If she is competitive and has perfectionist tendencies, then even more so. For some kids this just takes time but I see two different things to work on with her. The first is to coach her on how to behave with her teammates if she has a bad meet. She should be able to congratulate them and still be supportive of them while in the moment. Her teammates should not have to console your DD at the expense of their success that day. The second is to work with her on healthy expectations for competitions. It's not about winning/losing. It is about going out there to have fun and showing the judges and spectators the efforts of all the hard work in the gym. Always, but especially if your DD is a perfectionist, leave scores or placements out of the conversation. At her age, it really should be about working hard and having fun.
 
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Scottish Caitlyn

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Thanks :). I also have had a situation where we could not get to a training session due to the fact our car wouldn't start. That day she kept begging me to keep trying until the battery died and once back in the house she sulked the rest of the day. How could I have resolved that situation?
 

momnipotent

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I don’t think there’s anything you could have done in either situation (unless another family lives near you and you could have called them to see if they could have brought her that day.) Kids need to learn to deal with disappointment. We don’t do them any favors if we try to shield them from it. Part of being an adult is to deal productively with both success and failure. There will be disappointments in life. She is behaving age-appropriately for an 8 year old. When she calms down I would have a talk with her about whatever it was and try to help her understand how to deal with whatever she is upset about.
 
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John

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In this second scenario I would simply tell my DD life happens and is not always fair. It's a great lesson and if she doesn't learn it early gymnastics may be a hard sport for her to participate in. Gymnastics, to me, teaches life.
 

NutterButter

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Thanks :). I also have had a situation where we could not get to a training session due to the fact our car wouldn't start. That day she kept begging me to keep trying until the battery died and once back in the house she sulked the rest of the day. How could I have resolved that situation?
Well that's an easy one - buy a brand new car. The whole situation could have been avoided if you had a brand new car parked in your driveway. :p

There's not much you can do about the car situation other than make sure you are modeling appropriate reactions. Make sure you are not getting wrapped up in her emotions and raising your voice or getting mad. Be calm and rational ("Sometimes cars break and we have to change our plans until it can be fixed. I know you are disappointed you can't go to practice today.). I know, easier said than done if the kid is being a pill. If she needs to sulk all day, fine. Offer praise anytime she is flexible so that she can learn what being flexible mean. Humor also works. Inflexibility is hard to parent...takes a long time for flexibility to stick. My two kids are inflexible - one more than the other and it drives me bonkers at times.

Is there a reason why it was so important to get to practice? Is she worried about a punishment from the coach?
 

A's Mom

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This makes me wonder how her coaches talk about scores and placement. We've only just finished our first competitive season, so I'm a newbie too. But one of the things my kid's coaches do really well is frame meets in terms of doing their best and seeing gymnastics as a long process, not just about any one meet. They don't even talk about meets once they're over. This has meant that her team is remarkably resilient and flexible (pun totally intended). They certainly care about their scores and placement, and they get disappointed. But they pick themselves up and try again. I won't presume to give you parenting advice, but if your daughter is consistently getting the message, from you and her coaches, that her job is to simply do her best because that's all she has control over, maybe that will help in the long run. Good luck!
 

Peachy88

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I also have an emotional and dramatic child. She is getting close to 7 but I do not see it resolving any time soon. If my kid really wants something she struggles when it doesn’t work out. If you’re frustrated know you’re not alone. I am not a parenting expert and still learning myself but just wanted to let you know you’re not alone.
 

John

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Agreed you are not alone. I remember when DD came home from kindergarten crying because she hadn't yet learn to tie her shoes. She sat crying on the floor practicing for over two hours until she had mastered it. Crying then stopped. Since then there have been many suck episodes of frustration followed by hours of trying with tears in her eyes. She is now 12 and it still occasionally happens. We are working on hulking up instead of crying. Still a work in progress.
 
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