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5 Ways to Support Kids Through Failure, Loss, or Heartbreak

Failure is a part of life.

No one enjoys losing, but it is inevitable.

And when children experience a loss, it can be a complex and emotional time for them.

Losses, though difficult, can provide great opportunities for learning life lessons. Losing teaches kids that they will not always win, that it’s important to work hard for what you want, and you should congratulate the winner.

These important life lessons are meaningless without failure.

For more on this, read the reasons Why I Like to See My Kids Lose.

It it up to us, the parents, to support our children through the disappointment and turn it into a positive experience.

How to Help Kids Cope with Losing and Failing

My oldest son knows what it feels like to lose. While he learned first hand what a loss teaches you, as parents we have learned how to support our children through their failures.

Whether the loss is related to school, sports, or heck- even a board-game, you can support your child by following these 5 steps.

1) Let Them Be Alone If They Need to be

Everyone responds to a loss in different ways. While some children need you to be there for them, some may feel more comfortable having some space. They want to think it through and get over it on their own.

If your child wants some alone time to work out their loss, let them have their moment.

Related: How to Raise Kids who Come to You with Problems

2) Show Them Love and Affection

The most important thing for them to understand is that everything is okay, and that you still love them.

Whether they need some alone time initially or not, most children will still need some comforting. A long hug or even a reassuring pat will show them that you are there for them.

You may also like: What to Expect TEN YEARS After Expecting

3) Let them Experience Their Emotions

Often, children cry when they first experience a failure. They work hard and the defeat would make anyone upset.

When a child is upset, yelling at them to “suck it up” will not effectively help them learn from the loss. As a parent, it is important to acknowledge their emotions. Let them cry if they have to. Getting upset will only elevate the situation and will not prevent it in the future.

Learn how to be your kid’s emotional coach here.

4) Talk Them Through It

When the emotions settle, it is the perfect time to talk about the loss in a positive way. My husband and I tell my son the following:

  • You will not always win in life, and that is okay
  • We will always be proud if you try your hardest
  • You did a great job

Also, we take the opportunity to talk to him about respecting his opponents. We even encourage him to congratulate his competitor if his heart is in it.

After a failure, it is the perfect time for parents to intervene and put a positive spin on what may feel like a negative experience.

5) Talk About Next Plans

Losing is a part of winning. It’s natural. Following a failure is an important time to have conversations about what hard work looks like. Take this opportunity to have these discussions and work on a plan of action, if it applies.

Inspire them to practice harder or change things up next time. Encourage them to not give up and to know that anything is possible with practice.

Final Thoughts on Helping Kids Cope with Losing and Failing

It is our job, as parents, to put a positive spin on a tough failure, and teach our kids life lessons that will stay with them forever. Remember, it is failures that make the victories so sweet.

How do you support your kids through a loss? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

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Jennifer Maune

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

These words are so true. Losses and failures are just lessons if you can see it from that viewpoint. It is our job as parents to make sure they can. Great post!


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