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The keys to helping kids cope with disappointment amid COVID-19 pandemic

DETROIT – Many events that children look forward to have been cancelled or postponed.

The disappointment children feel because of these cancellations can be tough on them and their parents.

“What we need to do is normalize that feeling of disappointment and let the parents know that their main job is to stay calm,” clinical psychologist Donna Rockwell said.

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There have been driveway celebrations and birthday parades to help people celebrate at a distance. There have even been creative backyard graduation ceremonies.

“I think the first thing we need to understand is that disappointment is a part of life,” Rockwell said. “We will feel disappointed and our main job is to figure out how do we deal with disappointment. Our children look to us to see how we handle things -- and so we need to set a standard for them.”

Rockwell said to help your children set reasonable expectations.

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“We used to think it was just normal to have a graduation party or a birthday party,” Rockwell said. “But we’re going through difficult times right now and we all need to come together as one team and figure out how to handle this the best. So, let’s reorientate our expectations about what a birthday party looks like and let’s be creative and think of some way we can celebrate you make you feel special.”

She said it’s important for little ones to experience disappointment, even if they’re really young.

“I think we need to put an honest face on it and a positive face on it. You can have both of those things at the same time and do not swell on it because whatever we feel, our children feel and they pick up their clues from us,” Rockwell said.

Help them talk about exactly why they’re disappointed.

“We need to listen and we don’t need to listen with the ears of, ‘How do I fix this.’ We need to listen with the ears of, ‘Is this person feeling heard?' If our child feels heard, if they feel understood by us, if they feel empathy from us -- rather than a need to be happy and need to get over it,” Rockwell said.

Rockwell also said not to swell on past events that could lead to making your child feel depressed. Instead, help your child focus ahead to new plans for the future.

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