This month we ran our Everyone is a Leader workshop for the Year 5’s at Kinross Primary. In this workshop, kids explored what a leader and importantly, how they might feel when they don’t get a leadership position and how to manage those feelings.
In a life where everyone strives and works hard to achieve leadership roles and be the best among their peers, there will be times that someone will emerge victorious over others. Have your kids experienced this, knowing they did their best but ended up missing out? How did they take it? How did you help them cope with the disappointment?
Failure and disappointment are a part of life, and it will benefit children if they experience them early while growing up. Parents are encouraged to allow their children to fail and make mistakes to develop new life skills and learn valuable lessons from them.
But what kind of parental support do they need in these times?
Give them assurance
Understandably, parents tend to get anxious for their kids to become achievers. However, this may lead to more pressure on the kids. More than feeling disappointed because they didn’t get to be school prefect or team captain, they may feel disappointed and scared that their parents wouldn’t be pleased with the outcome.
Help remove that fear in them by giving assurance that no matter the outcome, it will be okay, and you’re proud of them for just trying. Remind them that they don’t have to be the best, but the best they can be. What’s important is that they grow from this experience and try again next time, equipped with more wisdom and determination. Winning is nice, but it’s the journey and lessons they’ve learned along the way is what’s important.
Validate their feelings
Allow your children to feel disappointed and be emotional, especially if they’re experiencing this for the first time. It’s an important part of building resilience in children. Feeling disappointed is valid, as long as you are there to listen to them and help them bounce back. Instead of fixing the problem for them, help them go through their feelings to find out exactly what they’re upset about. Is it about them not getting the position? Or perhaps about feeling like they didn’t try hard enough?
It’s also important to avoid judging their reaction. The issue might sound silly or not a big deal for you as an adult, but telling them that it’s not a big deal or not acknowledging how they feel might make them feel more isolated. Again, reassurance is important to let them know that you’re proud of them and support them as they deal with negative feelings.
Offer support but still allow them to be independent
Even before trying, your children might become hesitant, worrying about the what-ifs. What if they don’t win? What if they mess it up?
It’s important to encourage them to try if they want it, keeping in mind to avoid pushing them if this is not what they want but what you want for them. Motivate them to pursue the leadership role they want by letting them know that more than winning, they could learn so much from the process.
You can also let them be independent but still offer your support. For example, if your kids are running in the school elections, let them make their campaign instead of you taking over it entirely. Offer help by providing bits of advice, helping them buy materials, and helping them practice their speech. Along the way, don’t forget to point out that they’re already doing great. There’s already an accomplishment in running the campaign successfully, and winning is just the cherry on top. Read more on how to offer support but avoid hovering.
Compassion is key
Ultimately, many kids may be experiencing disappointment and emotions for the first time, and parents need to be compassionate. Allow them time to debrief and help them realise early on that while we don’t always get what we want, there will always be more opportunities next time. Learning this at a young age helps in character-building and teaches children resilience. What is crucial is that you’re proud of them for taking risks, being brave, and emerging stronger.
Does your school run leadership incursions? Our Everyone is a Leader incursion is just one of our incursion workshops that uses our unique art and play activities to develop resilience in kids. All our incursions link with the curriculum. If you think your school would be interested in our incursions we would love you to forward this link to our incursion brochure to your child’s teacher.