From Wikipedia:

Disappointment is the feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest.

This definition describes every couple of minutes in a toddler’s life.  They don’t get what they want and they don’t like that.

But it is also a great teaching tool because as adults, we are well aware of disappointment too.   Unfortunately, it is a difficult concept to teach because toddlers are so young and they don’t quite get the concept.

So they cry.

And often we give in because we want to spare them the disappointment.  It can be as simple as they want their grilled cheese cut up.  You cut it up and “NOO!  I wanted it cut up this WAY!”  or “NOO! I wanted to cut it myself!!”  and honestly, you don’t care how it’s cut up so you take their grilled cheese and give them yours to try again.   They are happy and no more fussing.

But they didn’t get the opportunity to learn about disappointment in a very non-threatening way.  Instead of giving in, you can offer empathy.  You can say, “I’m sorry that it didn’t get cut how you wanted it.”  And then you can offer choices, “You don’t have to eat it that way if you don’t want to.”   They may even negotiate and try and take your sandwich but unfortunately, that’s not one of the options.  

It is healthy for a child to experience and learn about disappointment.   It is key part of development.

It is part of the balance of control between the parent and the child.  When the child has all of the control, they may not get disappointed, but they won’t benefit from having all the power. 

When a parent sets a limit, the child will undoubtedly be disappointed, but that is OK.  You can empathize and help the child learn about emotions as part of the process.  

Allow your child the opportunity to be disappointed today!