How to help your children manage disappointment

A park sits vacant amid the coronavirus outbreak. (Copyright 2020 by Cleveland Clinic News Service. All rights reserved.)

COVID-19 restrictions have canceled or postponed countless activities and events.

And plenty of kids and teens, alike, are disappointed their school and sporting activities are canceled.

According to Kate Eshleman, PsyD, of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, parents can play an important role in helping their kids deal with disappointment.

“I think it’s important to ask the kids how they’re feeling about those things,” she said. “We don’t want to assume that they’re experiencing distress related to one thing or the other. But it’s also okay to acknowledge their disappointment and validate their concerns.”

Dr. Eshleman recommends putting things into perspective for them. She said to explain that things could be worse, but also let kids know that it’s okay to be disappointed.

It can be helpful to find a distraction, or an alternative activity. Even if it might not be the same as what your child had planned, a new activity can ease their minds and disappointment.

Dr. Eshleman reminds us these unprecedented times can cause some children or teens to become over anxious or depressed.

In these instances, there are warning signs that parents should be on the lookout for.

“A good rule of thumb is always to look for changes in behavior,” she said. “If you see that your child is sleeping more or less than he or she was, if the eating habits change, or if you see more irritability or withdrawal, or isolation; those changes in behaviors are things to look for.”

Dr. Eshleman said it can also be helpful for parents to remind children that these challenging times won’t last forever, and to try to keep conversations positive.