• Deirdre Brandner

How to manage your child's disappointment during COVID-19

With this second round of lockdown, there are so many lost opportunities and further disappointments for our children. From birthday parties and holidays to school events, sports, and graduations. Lots of special things that were hoped and planned for are suddenly either postponed or simply not happening.

So how do we manage this?

Watch out our for your own emotions.

Your anxiety is contagious just as much as your feelings of disappointment. The good news is positive feelings and emotion are also contagious, and thus an easy effective way to calm the situation.

Acknowledge your child’s emotions

You must validate your child's feelings, “I know you’re really sad that we can't have the party” as they like many others your child can feel disappointed. Your child will struggle to understand the enormity of the situation and the sacrifices that are currently occurring by all. Telling them that 'that everyone is missing out' is not going to help but instead focus on the fact that it is the 'right thing to do' as this is something a child can accept. Let them have the feeling we don't have to rescue them from everything.

Sometimes all you can do is listen

As parents it helps just to be a listening ear, so your child can freely vent their frustrations. Some of us have this overwhelming urge to swoop in and wipe out a disappointment for our child. We all need to learn skills to manage disappointment. If we can’t bear to watch our child’s emotions and we continue to always rescue them from negative feelings, then we are getting in the way of their development.

Reschedule and get creative

When disappointment starts to intrude on behaviour then we need to provide some direction for children e.g. tantrums and inability to let go of the issue. A new direction might involve, finding a way to modify the missed activity so it can be creatively executed at home. It might be about sitting down and creating a plan or even discussing a new date for the missed event. Calendars and schedules are great anchors for children as they act as a visual cue that the event will occur in the future. It is okay if don’t know exactly when.

Disappointment is crucial to your child developing resilience

Research tells us experiencing disappointments is crucial in developing resilience. This experience allows your child to learn how to respond to time when something has gone wrong or the outcome was not what they were hoping for. Learning problem-solving skills and developing a positive outlook e.g. a glass half full approach, is essential for your child to function in the real world.


Be aware of your emotions

Validate their feelings

Look for creative ways to celebrate the occasion or plan the next one

Where possible consider calendars to visually reinforce the event will happen in the future

Focus on the positives of the present

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