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Dealing with Disappointment
by Elizabeth Crary, M.S.
Elizabeth Crary

About:
the Book
the Author
Parenting Press

Feature story:
Teaching Parents and Kids Coping Skills

Sidebars:
Developing Emotional Competence
Who's in Charge of the Feeling?

Media questions

Reviewer and reader comments

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Looking for a sidebar?

Writing a story to help parents handle emotional children?

Here are two exercises that work well for sidebars. Both are adapted from Dealing with Disappointment: Helping Kids Cope When Things Don't Go Their Way, by Elizabeth Crary.

Sidebar 1

Developing Emotional Competence

Some parents unintentionally encourage their children's emotional dependence. One way parents do that is by "fixing" the problem rather than teaching their children how to deal with the feeling or the situation.

Read the situations and parental responses below. Decide what you believe the parent focuses on. Record your opinion in the blank before the response.
     FF - fixing the feelings
     FS - fixing the situation
     TF - teaching about feelings
     TS - teaching about the situatiom


Courtney (2½ years old) is crying because Dad cut her sandwich in triangles and today she wanted squares. Dad said —

     ___ a. "You're upset that I cut your sandwich wrong. Come sit in my lap till you feel better."

     ___ b. "You're disappointed that I cut your sandwich into triangles. Would you like to cry, shake out the feelings, or get a hug?"

     ___ c. "You're angry that I cut your sandwich wrong. I will cut the triangles again so they are square."

     ___ d. "You're mad that I cut your sandwich into triangles when you wanted square. What can we do to make it better?"


Eddie (10 years old) came home from school and stomped into the kitchen. When Mom remarked, "It looks like you had a hard day at school," Eddie snarled, "Hard, ha! Mr. Richard made fun of me in math class when I didn't answer fast enough for His Royal Majesty." Mom said —

     ___ a. "You are really angry. Let's make chocolate chip cookies to take your mind off Mr. R. and help you calm down."

     ___ b. "You're livid that Mr. R. poked fun at you. Do you want to let him control your day or do you want to calm yourself?"

     ___ c. "You're furious that Mr. R. made fun of you. I'll call him and tell him that making fun of kids is no way to teach."

     ___ d. "You're really mad Mr. R. made fun of you in class. What do you want to do, study math more so you are faster or tell him how his teasing made you feel?"

Answers: Courtney: a - FF, b - TF, c - FS, d - TS. Eddie: a - FF, b - TF, c - FS, d - TS.

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Sidebar 2

Who's in Charge of the Feeling?

Some parents unknowingly model blaming others for their feelings. Read each sentence and decide who is in charge. If the parent is in charge of his or her own feelings, circle the P. If the child is in charge of the parent's feelings, circle the C and rewrite the statement to put the parent in charge.

     P / C 1. If you don't go to bed now, you will make me very sad.

     P / C 2. I feel angry when I ask you to hand up your coat and you don't do it.

     P / C 3. I told you not to turn on the TV. You turned it on anyway. You made me very mad.

     P / C 4. You set the table without asking. I am happy you remembered.

     P / C 5. You've made me so happy. Thank you for the valentine.

     P / C 6. I feel frustrated when you leave all your toys on the floor.

     P / C 7. When you do something that I have told you not to do, you make me feel angry.

Possible answers: 1. child in charge: Go to bed now. 2. parent in charge. 3. child in charge: I am mad that you turned the TV on when I asked you not to. 4. parent in charge. 5. child in charge: I felt happy when I read the valentine from you. 6. parent in charge. 7. child in charge: I feel angry when you do something I have told you not to do.

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