A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Kids Deal with Disappointment
Disappointment is a normal part of life, and all the lockdowns due to COVID-19 caused some major disappointments for kids and teens, while disrupting lives everywhere. Across the country, kids missed out on big events like end of term parties, graduations and school trips - especially long awaited residential trips, as well as ordinary daily activities like hanging out with family and friends.
It’s enough to make anyone feel a little sad and discouraged.
It is natural for parents to want to shield children from unpleasant situations, but dealing with missing out can be a beneficial experience for children. Otherwise, your child may struggle when they run into bigger let-downs as an adult.
You might be left wondering "how can I help my child deal with extreme feelings of disappointment?"
Talking with Your Kids about Disappointment
There are major differences between dwelling on disappointments, trying to suppress them, and dealing with them constructively. Your child will probably find it easier to move on if they can talk about their feelings.
Try these techniques to talk with your kids about their disappointments:
Show empathy. Help your child to accept their feelings. Validate their experiences even if they are different from your own. Avoid saying anything that could sound judgmental or dismissive.
Ask questions. Ensure that you understand what is really bothering your child. Maybe they are concerned about how this years 'teacher graded' exams will affect their applications to university or how they have missed out on so much end of primary school learning they could be behind in secondary or maybe they are more focused on staying in touch with their friends.
Offer perspective. The pandemic is a relatively small percentage of your lifetime, but it can be more overwhelming for someone under 18. Let your kids know that at least some of the restrictions are beginning to be lifted.
Be honest. At the same time, you want to avoid making unrealistic promises. Share truthful and age-appropriate information, without frightening them.
Think positive. It’s also important to remind yourself and your children that there are still many things to look forward to. Try to be curious and hopeful about what the future holds in store.
Other Coping Strategies to Help Your Kids Deal with Disappointment
Open communication between you and your kids will help relieve doubts and fears. Then, you can work with your child on how to take positive action.
Use these strategies:
Present choices. Lack of control plays a big role in the distress that many children and adults feel today. Help your child to develop their own daily routines and shift their attention toward activities that can boost their self-esteem.
Create substitutes. Be creative about coming up with replacements for the things they have lost. Host virtual birthday parties and have fun as a family. Visit art museums and zoo's online.
Reduce stress. Teach your child to soothe themselves. EFT / Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) is an awesome self help tool, which can be applied by the child and have a positive affect on their mental wellbeing. Jo and Rachel have limited spaces available to work one to one with children and young people, if you need extra support reach out today and book a FREE consultation appointment and see how EFT can help!
Manage expectations. Hardships will be easier to bear if you help your kids build self-awareness and self-knowledge. Encourage them to pursue their own goals rather than comparing themselves to others.
Band together. Another advantage of hard times is the potential they have for creating social bonds. Your child may feel closer to their classmates due to going through the same events together.
Help others. On a broader level, reaching out to others in need usually makes us feel happier. Look for ways to volunteer as a family in your community.
Love unconditionally. Disappointments can be especially uncomfortable if your child feels like they failed at something. Reassure them that you love them regardless of how many times they lose their backpack.
Show faith. Your child is more likely to overcome any kind of disappointment if you express confidence in them. Tell them you believe in them and praise them for their efforts.
Dealing with disappointments teaches children valuable lessons that will prepare them for adult life. As a parent and with support from us, it’s up to you to provide a loving role model while they develop their coping skills.