A Masterclass in Helping Kids Deal with Disappointment

The famous developmental psychologist Urie Brofenbrenner said that in order to thrive, every kid needs at least one adult in their life who has an “irrational emotional attachment” to them. When asked what that really meant, Brofenbrenner said “Someone’s gotta be crazy about them!”. That’s particularly true when a child has to cope with disappointment.

How do you let a kid know that you are still crazy about them when they feel they have failed? Ask Cumberland Little League coach David Belisle, who made this speech to the weeping boys who had just lost a heartbreakingly close game and been eliminated from the Little League World Series.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

4 thoughts on “A Masterclass in Helping Kids Deal with Disappointment”

  1. Part of why I love it is the naturalness of it, there are ahs and ums and repetition and clichés but he says the words with such evident love that it has more impact than will the smooth as silk version that we will see Tom Hanks deliver next year when they turn this into a movie.

  2. My personal experience with two generations of Little League Baseball (my kids and my grandkids) is all positive … except for some parents.

    The Little League coaches I've known have been capable coaches, capable in loco parentis (Is that a noun? Is there a plural form?), and compassionate humans. They've taught the kids how to play baseball, how to be good teammates, how to be good kids … and then along come the parents (10%, that is, not most of them) who go crazy if their star kid doesn't play every inning of every game, or if some other less talented kid boots a ball that costs a game, or if the team fails to make its way through the playoffs, or …etc.

    So on top of the terrific job they do with the kids, the coaches also have to teach them to cope with the disappointments of (some of) their parents.

  3. Okay, you got me. Teared up. And I don't even like baseball that much. Esp pro, bores the hooey out of me. College is better. Maybe some day I'll try Little League.

    But I liked what he said about sportsm[anship]. Maybe the lack of that is why I pretty much hate all pro sports now, and all talk of building stadiums, and even the Olympics. It all just seems canned now. It's all commercial.

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