We all experience setbacks, big and small. But when parents view life’s inevitable setbacks as opportunities rather than as things to be avoided, kids will be more willing to take on new challenges and will develop the strength to cope. Here are strategies for helping you and your kids handle any disappointments that come your way.

  • Try to walk the line between advocating for your children (this is especially critical when kids have special needs) and rushing to "rescue" them from every disappointment or dashed expectation.
  • When children express disappointment, empathize and remind them how much courage it took to make the attempt. Show confidence in their ability to deal with a setback. Share a time when you had a similar experience and talk about how you bounced back.
  • Provide plenty of unstructured playtime. Free play allows children to try out ideas -- and sometimes fail along the way.

Talk to your child: Help your child see failure as an opportunity -- and as critical to success. Ask your child what he or she can learn from any disappointing experience and discuss ways to do things differently next time.

Book to share: Flight School by Lita Judge. Ages 4 and up. A young penguin believes he has "the soul of an eagle," but he’s having trouble getting off the ground. His plucky perseverance and a little help make his dreams a reality.