Sometimes as adults we want to scream, rage and kick something when things don’t go to plan (and maybe sometimes we do!) but overall grown-ups have learned to recognise when something can be changed and when it can’t.
But it’s harder for kids. And when my children are having full blown tantrums because they haven’t got what they want, I feel like shouting, “just get OVER IT!”. But that’s not very helpful – especially if they don’t know how to get over it.
I was reminded of this at the weekend when we went to an art exhibition with my 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. We are expats living temporarily in Paris, and before we go back to the UK, I am trying to see as much here as I can. I really wanted to go to an art exhibition at a cool building just outside of the city called the Louis Vuitton Foundation.
(The Louis Vuitton building in Paris.)
We were worried about taking two little children so I showed them a great You Tube video of a dancer going around the building and I made a game of how we would spot all of the paintings from the video. It was a tip I was given from another blogger.
My 5-year-old became so engaged with this idea that he was desperate to get inside. When we arrived at lunch time - with full tummies and a hunger to see some famous art – we were immediately disappointed. The queue was out the door and it wasn’t even moving! We joined the line and hoped it would start to speed up. Nope. We were stationary for 45 minutes! The kids were getting silly and it was REALLY cold.
At this point my husband and I decided to pull the plug but we had a another idea. We told the kids we would go to a nearby fairground instead. They were really happy and excited and off they skipped.
After a few rides, we sat down in a warm café for some yummy chocolate crepes. A combination of tiredness and a sugar rush led to my son’s sudden mood switch. He began asking if we would be going back to the building to see the art (of course, when we left the queue, I forgot to explain that we wouldn’t be going back that day).
I tried to tell him that when we got home I would buy tickets online and we would come back another day. But he couldn’t accept it. He screamed loudly (like a 2 year old). He refused to budge. I tried negotiating, I tried cuddling, I tried threatening – I tried everything!
In the end, my husband got so cross he stormed ahead to get the car. Unfortunately for my son we had to WALK PAST the exhibition and this set him off again. He was staring longingly at the building while pleading and sobbing, “Please, please, please can we go, pretty please, but I want to… I really want to…”
I felt so bad.
With all of my techniques already used up, there was nothing left but for me to get down at his level, give him a big cuddle and tell him that I was very disappointed too. This seemed to be the only thing that sort of calmed him down; knowing that I understood his disappointment because I felt it too.
It’s a really hard thing to explain to a child. Because there are times in life when we should not accept disappointment and we should fight for what we believe in. Perhaps you’ve bought a product that’s faulty. Or you’ve received terrible customer service. You get an unfair exam result, you don’t agree with a political decision or you see injustice and you decide to act. There are many times in life when we should not accept it.
But there are many times when things are out of our hands and there is nothing we can do:
- A friend lets you down badly
- You don't get that job you really wanted
- You don't get the seat you wanted on a plane
- You can’t take your kids away on half term because the cheap rates are taken (that’s me…I tried to book too late!)
- You spend hours researching a product on the internet, get to the checkout and it’s sold out!
After the tantrum my son was safely in our car (warm and happy) he forgot all about his disappointment and was really brave as we drove past the building AGAIN.
Sometimes, it is those ordinary moments that make you realise some of life's greatest lessons. In this case, accepting disappointment is the hardest of all.
**This post is a guest post from the lovely Alison from Five Little Stars which is a product review and family lifestyle blog. Here is little about Alison -
"I’m Australian-made but spent most of my adult life in the East Midlands with my English husband and our two spirited children aged 3 and 5. We’re very lucky to have been sent to Paris on a temporary work placement where it’s a challenge raising two little ones and not speaking the language. My favourite activities are family cycles along the river, breaking into warm baguettes and meeting new friends"
If you have enjoyed this blog post please do go check out more of her posts over at www.fivelittlestars.com. **