When we’ve allowed time and space for our kids to sit with their big feelings, we can gently empower them with some problem-solving affirmations.
‘I know you’re brave, you’re going to get through this.’
Through the process of accepting the feelings, listening to your child and showing empathy, you’ve also shown your child that you’re not fazed by this disappointment either – while it’s sad, it’s not the end of the world. You’re both going to get through this and you’re both going to come out stronger. And later on, once the big feelings have subsided, we can gently give our kids some insights into the practicalities of hosting birthday parties and the need for capped numbers. We can help them understand why there are only so many places on a team. We can guide them towards a better understanding of these realities, but addressing their feelings needs to come first.
Finally, as parents we have the privilege of continually reinforcing our child’s sense of self-worth. Their value doesn’t come from being invited to everyone’s birthday party or making the top team, and we need to be the voice that regularly reminds them of this. But we also need to be honest here – for young kids (even for older kids and teens, for that matter), these types of accolades are very important. They can build their world on them, and subsequently their world can then fall apart. Our job as parents is to make sure there are firm foundations that support our kids through even the toughest disappointments, reinforcing their innate belief in themselves – they are unconditionally loved and cherished sons and daughters.
Now, not being invited is still going to hurt, and your beloved sons and daughters might not appear to be listening when you gently remind them again and again of how precious they are in your sight, but we have to trust the process.