Five Ways to Help Your Kids Handle Disappointment

2020 has not been the year we were all hoping it would be. The long sought-after year was supposed to be a time for new beginnings, adventure, and opportunity. Instead, the year has become a time of fear, uncertainty, and loss for many. As a mom, I’ve struggled with knowing how to help my daughter cope with so much loss and disappointment this year.

Our annual trip to Disneyland was canceled only 24 hours before our departure, the end of 2nd grade was experienced through Google Hangouts, and 3rd grade remains a mystery. With so much uncertainty, one thing is for sure, this year has been filled with disappointments. To be honest, life, in general, can tend to be that way too, so teaching our children that things don’t always work out the way we planned is a valuable life lesson.

If you’re also dealing with the challenges of helping your kids navigate these troubling times, here are some tips that can help. Below are five ways to help your kids handle disappointment.

Listen and lead a conversation

As parents, we have to understand that our kids’ feelings are valid. Listening to children during times of high stress and disappointment is crucial to helping them handle setbacks. Confirm their feelings and help them feel like their emotions are valid and valued. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings and they might relate to theirs. These conversations can build trust and confidence in your children, which will keep them coming back to you in times of need.

Be open-minded and optimistic

Sure, maybe the trip to Disneyland didn’t happen, but what are some fun alternatives? Finding the silver lining during tough situations can seem impossible at times, but it can be beneficial. Although many things are restricted at the moment, there are still opportunities for fun. Get creative and encourage out-of-the-box thinking with your kids. You never know what fun alternatives they’ll come up with.

Offer comfort and compassion

Sometimes, we don’t need a solution to our problems. Sometimes, all we need is a warm hug and a reminder that although everything is not fine now, one day they’ll be better. If your child has recently experienced disappointment, one of the easiest things you can do is just be there. Listen, love, and just be.

Understand perspective and privilege  

During these tough and unprecedented times, disappointments are the new normal. We’re constantly hearing about new closures, restrictions, and guidelines. While it might seem like the world is falling apart (especially to kids that haven’t experienced normal in months), things aren’t always as bad as it seems. Helping children gain perspective can be a great tool for helping them manage disappointment. Understanding our privilege and being grateful for what we do have is also a great way to remind them that we have it better than many people around the world.

Be a resilient role model

As a mom, I’m far from perfect. I’m constantly learning new ways to parent, discipline, and care for my daughter. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the last eight years is that kids become a mirror of their role models. If a child grows up around unhealthy, negative, and harmful habits, they’ll tend to follow in those footsteps. So, in trying times like these, make it a habit to display good sportsmanship even through hardships.