Reaction to Disappointment.

Today should be a very good day for me and for the most part was.  Out of the three children in my house that competed in local science fairs, two won their local fairs and competed in the State Regional Science Fair today.  This was my birth daughter’s second consecutive year to compete in the regional and she won the physics division this year for her age group.  She was so excited and still has not removed the gold medal from around her neck.  It is good to see her determination to do better pay off after not placing at all at the divisional fair last year. 

 Which is a stark contrast to how the young man with us reacted to the disappointment of losing today. 

For the last three weeks he has been so excited about winning his local 3rd grade fair and competing at the regional fair.  And though he does have some behavioral issues he was really well behaved, up to the end of the awards presentation.  After not winning any awards, he became very disappointed and rather than resolve to work harder and do better next year, he began to explain how miserable he was all day today and the only fun was being able to play gameboy while everyone else was in school.  When asked what thoughts he had about today, he said he pretty much hated the whole day, and next year he was thinking up his own project.

He has only lived with us for a year, comes from a very troubled family situation and is a victim of incarcerated parents, so I am not real surprised at his reaction to disappointment.  I think what will make a difference for him will be how I react to his reaction of disappointment.  Should he still be with us next year (he could go back to his birth mother this summer, once she completes her transition) I could just blow him off and work with one of the numerous other children on campus with their projects.  (I am not a super genius or anything but I am very creative, mechanical and handy so all the kids come to me for help with things like science fair projects, pinewood derby cars, shop projects, etc.  I am extremely limited on time so the majority of the help I provide is consultation services.  There are very few I am able to help directly and they are mostly the ones that live with me in my house though all the children on campus want it.)

Or I can continue to encourage him and let him know I am not disappointed in the outcome of the fair.  My response to his thinking up his own project was, “That’s fine, if you come up with a project idea, I will be happy to help you where I can.”  In the mean time I will help him think of ways he can improve the project he did this year, which he picked out by the way, so that he can expand on it and do better next year.  I will reinforce that I am proud of his effort and encourage him to keep trying.

Hopefully next year he will win, but if he doesn’t, I at least hope he will have some new skills to deal with disappointment.

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