Disappointment can happen for a variety of reasons, and most of us experience some sort of misfortune quite often.  As adults, we have hopefully developed strategies for dealing with disappointment, but for kids, a small disappointment can feel huge. Have you ever given a toddler a cut banana when they, in fact, wanted it uncut?  To them, that moment felt like their little world was over. 

And even as they get older, students in elementary, middle, and even high school, may still struggle to regulate their emotions when they are disappointed.

In this dealing with disappointment lesson, we’ll help you help your students learn strategies to cope with setbacks.  

Note: This lesson is based on Communication scene 5 in our online game, Zoo U.

Materials: Print out “What Should I Do?” worksheet for your students. 

Prompt:  “Can anyone think of a time when you were disappointed?

A few examples:

  • when you lose at a game
  • when you fall off your bike
  • when a friend is mean or leaves you out
  • you didn’t get what you wanted for lunch
  • you wanted something but didn’t get it

“How do you feel when those things happen?”

* allow time for discussion and pass out worksheet *

“Take a few minutes and write down something that made you feel disappointed. It could have happened today, yesterday or a long time ago but you still remember it.  You may have a few things that have made you feel that way. On your worksheet, write them in the sand where the sandcastle has fallen down. 

* you can have a small group or class discussion after this part *

Prompt:  Discuss with your students what they can do when something doesn’t go their way.  You can ask for some suggestions from the class or have the students share what’s on the worksheet. 

Next, have students write a few ideas into their sandcastle to “build it back up.”  Explain how effectively dealing with disappointment can really help our mood and how we go on with our day.  

Each student’s sandcastle may look a bit different because they might choose different phrases and that’s OK.  It’s a good opportunity for you to see what resonates with them when they have those feelings.  

Additional Resources: I Statements Worksheet

dealing with disappointment