5 Tips to Help Your Kids Handle the Disappointments of 2020
I can’t count the number of times this year I’ve sat my kids down to tell them that a beloved event or activity was canceled due to the pandemic. I can see their three little faces lined up on the bottom bunk bed. I can feel the tension in my heart, knowing the words I’m about to speak will crush them yet again. Usually, they had questions, sometimes tears flowed, every time they were disappointed.
The more recurrent these conversations became, the more ways I found to help my kids cope with the swells of disappointment 2020 was bringing. It’s likely your family has faced these moments as well. Here are five tips to help your kids handle the disappointments of 2020:
1. Settle your own heart first.
When we decided virtual school was the best option for our first-grader, we knew he would be heartsick about not returning to school. As parents, our hearts ached over the sadness he would feel.
Before we told him school would be done from home this fall, we needed to settle our own emotions so we could be prepared to help him navigate his. Centering our thoughts on the benefits like being able to spend extra time together as a family helped us find peace with the decision before we shared it with him.
2. Have the hard conversation.
When bad news comes it isn’t beneficial for me to hide it, avoid it, or downplay it with my kids. I’ve learned, through much trial and error, the best thing to do is to clearly explain it to them in an age-appropriate manner. And after I’ve told them the news comes the most important part of the conversation. I must let them respond honestly and encourage them to ask questions.
I tend to rush to the part of the conversation where we find resolution and things are okay, but acknowledging the difficulty and sitting with them in that place is truly what they need.
3. Be full of grace.
Our children are living in the same strange year as we are only they don’t have the emotional maturity we do as adults. Their big emotions almost always lead to big reactions. They may be more disobedient, more melancholy, or more withdrawn than usual. It’s been helpful for me to handle bad behavior with extreme gentleness. In my house, this looks like calm, close conversations instead of heavy-handed consequences.
My kids and yours are learning to make the right choices under stress and hardship. That’s not an easy skill to master. Let’s be their biggest cheerleaders and calm, steady coaches as they figure it out.
4. Lift them up.
When my kids have been struggling greatly to cope with disappointments, I’ve doubled down on my efforts to make their lives fun! Two desserts after dinner? Sure. Staying up to watch movies way past bedtime? I’ve done it. Whenever you notice the little souls in your care are downcast go all out to lift them up.
5. Give them hope.
The hardest questions to answer from my children have been the ones about when the interruptions coronavirus has brought will end. They’re hard because I don’t know the answer. I’m not sure when school will be normal again. I’m not sure when their grandparents will be able to attend their sporting events. I’m just not sure, so I can’t give them hope in normal returning soon. But I can give them hope in God.
God is constant, he is unchanging, he is for us, with us, and working in our midst. He hasn’t taken a break, distanced himself, or restricted his Spirit in this age of COVID. And his hope comes with a promise that we all desperately need: it does not disappoint (Romans 5:5.)
We can’t avoid all disappointments, especially in the unprecedented times we’re living in, but we can help our children handle them and find hope again!
Shelby Turner is a stay-at-home-mom, speaker, and writer who lives in Kansas City, Missouri. She is all about helping women kick the pursuit of a picture-perfect life to the curb and inspiring them to live a purposeful life instead. She’d love for you to follow along with her on Instagram at @shelbyraeturner!