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Is life too hard to handle? Here are 5 tips to teach children how to deal with disappointment

Let's face it. Life has its ups and downs. Disappointment, frustration, injustice, and failure are as much a part of the human existence as breathing. Learning how to handle those ups and downs is one of the more critical life-skills required for success.

We can’t spare children from every naughty person or scraped knee, as much as we’d like to. Instead, we must teach children the tools of resiliency and tenacity in the face of adversity. It's not that we welcome adversity, it's how we overcome it.

  • Give the feelings of frustration and injustice a name. It can be hard for a child to verbalize their feelings of disappointment and injustice so give it a descriptive word to help a child express it instead. For example, it's perfectly acceptable to ask a child if they are feeling disappointed when the ice cream on their cone falls off. Or you can simply say, "Oh Rats!" Those two little words can help adults and children express a lot of feelings that would otherwise take a lot of words and/or tears to convey.

  • Everyone gets frustrated. Everyone experiences “RATS” in their lives. Some are big, some are small, some are intentional, but most are circumstances that mess up our plans. The faster our brain can identify what we are feeling, the faster it feels in control and can pull from its file cabinet of problem-solving solutions to deal with it.

  • Don't scold a child for their feelings or diminish them. If you're frustrated, you're frustrated. Feelings are feelings. Instead, acknowledge the feelings like this. "It looks like you're frustrated" or "Are you feeling frustrated?"

  • Acknowledge the frustration and pain. Often all a child needs is the acknowledgment of the pain. The brain says, "ok, as long as we all agree this stinks, we can move on." It sounds so funny, but try some phrases like these and see what happens. "Oh Rats! That's so frustrating. Here, let's get some more ice cream." or "RATS, that's so frustrating. I'm so sorry that happened." Bamb, problem solved. Fit over (usually) and all is right in the world again.

  • Pre-empt the hidden danger of injustices. Our brain is great at figuring out problems but it hates unfairness and injustice. I mean... really hates them. It's literally toxic. If major disappointments and injustices are not properly dealt with, we can get emotionally stuck at that point in our life. Unresolved injustice and trauma can hide in a child's psyche for a lifetime, affecting every aspect of their life, including self-sabotage and a victim's mentality, if left unaddressed. Try these additional tools to help you teach children how to handle injustices.

RATS on the RUN Tool: Instead of instantly responding when "RATS" happen, try this:

  • STOP

  • Breathe in slowly while thinking/saying, “1-2-3, I control me.”

  • Exhale thinking/saying, “3-2-1, rats on the run.”

Do this until you can settle your emotions and clear your thoughts so you can solve the problem instead of getting stuck in it.

Step #5 - Train your brain to overcome!

Use these RAT FACTS as a base to help children think through an adverse situation.

  1. Not everything is fair. (Didn't you hate it when your parents said it, but it's true.)

  2. Everyone faces unfairness. (This reality fights off the victim mindset.)

  3. Unfairness does not determine your success... you do. (Puts you in charge of you.)

  4. Problems are opportunities in disguise. (Now that's serious brain empowerment!)

  5. Everything you need to overcome a RAT is in you. (This destroys helplessness.)

This is not a one time lesson. Write down these tools somewhere visible and apply every time a RAT shows up. For best results, use with Championeers! ESE Unit, Cowpie County to teach children to problem-solve using their imaginations!

For Happy, Healthy Homes and Schools!


Deanna Rhinehart,

Championeers! Emotional Safety Education Systems | 5 of 12 Cowpie County ESE Adventures!


Emotional Safety Education

Championeers! now has three amazing versions:

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Get a FREE Family Night or Classroom Adventure to enjoy with your special group of youngin's then spread the good news on social media so every little pup can have a happy, healthy home and school of their own! Yee-Haw!


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