Tough Topics

Equipping Kids to Face Disappointments

Many times children find themselves dealing with difficult and sometimes disappointing situations. At a Good News Club recently a child shared about a difficult situation at home and was seeking guidance on what to do. The child said “My dad’s work is being pressured so much. My dad could die any day now. Does God not love me and my family anymore? Why does it seem like God hates me?” At that same club another child, who had vented her frustrations previously, said “Thanks for caring for my family. I have many people in my life that are praying for my family. The stress is releasing from my family, for we have finally found a house with few problems. Thanks again for all of your prayers.” What a contrast in the two children’s situations. What made the difference? Encouragement!

Here are some ways to help you talk to children who are in tough situations.

Listen

Let the disappointed, discouraged child pour out his feelings, hurts and even hatred without being judgmental.

Sift through the details to find the cause:

  • Were his expectations too high or too specific?
  • Did he want something that would be hurtful to someone else?
  • Does he have a high need for approval from others?
  • Was he depending on someone who is not dependable?
  • Is he basing his happiness on some-thing that someone else controls?

Offer

Assure the child you care, and even more important, God wants him to dump all his struggles on Him because He cares (1 Peter 5:7).  Offer a package of gum with half the pieces removed. Watch the child’s reaction. Say, “Would you like it better if it were full? You are a little disappointed. Let’s see what that has to do with your problem.” Help the child to pinpoint what he really wanted in the first place: was it a position on the team to play alongside his friend? Was it the leading role in the play or the approval of his mother? Was it a perfect test paper or praise from his teacher?

Show

Read Romans 8:28 and show the child how his experience fits into the “all things.” Encourage him that God will use this struggle in his life to build his character, his skills or his relationships. Help him see what he has gained and what he needs to do by answering these questions:

  • What have I learned from this?
  • What will I do instead?
  • What will I do differently the next time?
  • How can I help someone else because of what has happened to me?
  • What will I do when I start feeling sorry for myself?

Go back to the gum package. Point out that each piece of gum is like something he gained. The empty spaces are the goals he hasn’t reached yet. He now has a choice: He can refuse or accept the gum package. He can accept the results of his experience and be thankful or he can quit and have a pity party for himself.  Pray with the child, helping him commit the whole situation to God and build on it. Your encouragement is needed by many children who will cry to you for help.

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