by Amy Chouinard M.A. CCC-SLP, COM®
We have all felt disappointment at some time in our lives. It is a part of being human. Dealing with disappointment is an important life skill. Right now, more than ever, we are dealing with this intense feeling. Our kids are feeling it as well. It is important that we help our children navigate through their disappointment.
In this world of coronavirus, it can seem like everything fun or even meaningful has been canceled. As an adult, I know that I am feeling disappointed for a variety of reasons. I miss seeing my friends, family and clients in person. I’m disappointed I cannot go to my favorite restaurants or get that pedicure. I am disappointed that concerts I planned on attending were cancelled as well as that spring break vacation. I feel disappointed for our children. Disappointed that they will continue distance learning until the end of the school year, that spring sports are cancelled and that summer sports may get cancelled as well. I am disappointed for those seniors that did not get prom or a graduation. Children feel these same disappointments. They miss seeing their friends at school, birthday parties and sleepovers. Of course, in the grand scheme, these are small disappointments compared to a loved one becoming ill, losing a job etc. but that does not mean we do not feel disappointed.
What can we do to help our children (and ourselves) navigate through this disappointment? We need to focus on what we can control. Just like there is nothing we can do about the weather, there is nothing we can do about school being cancelled or that we can’t go out for pizza. We should talk to our children about what they are feeling. It is important for them to feel their emotions and not hold them inside. It is not possible for us to “fix” many of these problems but we can validate what they are feeling and that these feelings are ok. Empathy goes a long way. We can assure them that our current situation is not forever. Just as the sun sets at the end of the day, it will rise again the next to begin a new day. What we are experiencing too shall pass.
We do not have control over the situation but we do have control over how our days look and our attitude. Here are some ideas to do with your children to help them gain some control.
- Have a schedule. Having a daily schedule helps keep us on track and feeling motivated.
- Set goals. What do you want to do today or this week? It feels good to accomplish our goals, no matter how small. Life still goes on; it just might look differently now.
- Get your body moving. Now that the weather is getting nice out, get outside for a walk, a game of catch, kicking a ball around, sidewalk chalk, take the dog for a walk, go on a bike ride, dance, jump etc.
- Practice speech and language and skills. Talk about daily activities such as preparing and cooking dinner together, household chores etc. Play games. Write and send cards to love ones or to healthcare workers or those alone in nursing homes.
- Listen to music.
- Craft or try a new hobby.
Showing our children how to handle their disappointment will provide them with a skill they can use throughout their lifetime. When we learn what it takes to work through difficult feelings caused by a disappointing situation, we build resilience and coping skills. Assure them we are all in this together. This time right now is a really hard thing, but we got this! Eventually, the sun will set on this time we are living in and what I know for certain, the sun will rise as we begin again.