Dealing with Disappointment
Hello families of Wellington Counseling Group
Admittedly, turning the corner into week five feels more challenging than did weeks past, as disappointment about lost experiences—now and in the near future—becomes more of a reality. The sting of cancelled spring break trips for some is quite prominent as we move from room to room, rather than from pool to beach this week. But, perhaps the biggest burn to digest is learning that distance education will be the mainstay of the 2020 school year across many states and the same was confirmed for my own children’s school (disclaimer: not yet confirmed for many Chicago-area schools, including CPS). While virtual classrooms have facilitated a sense of much-needed connection and communal learning for children, it in no way replaces the in-vivo enthusiasm, curiosity, collaboration and real time social connections that naturally unfold in a classroom. But our current times necessitate homebound living for healthier communities presently and yet to come, so dealing with disappointment is part of the unfolding reality. Although our children are missing out on so many experiences today, I take heart in the idea that they will emerge from this more resilient, adaptable, and (hopefully) more appreciative of the normal parts of their routines than before. Despite my message of optimism, I do appreciate that disappointments over missed occasions and milestones can be felt quite deeply by both parents and children, alike.
~Lean into disappointment
Let kids have the physical and emotional space to express their feelings during this difficult time. They might need to cry, yell, be alone, want hugs, act silly and more. Some kids might be very attuned to how they are feeling and easily tell an adult what’s on their mind, while others may display emotional clues through behaviors rather than words. Whatever the form of communication, I encourage you to pay attention, ask questions, and validate how your child is feeling. Then validate again. There may even be moments when you find yourself joining in your child’s disappointment or anxiety, because, let’s be honest, who isn’t harboring worry these days. Giving your child the space and respect to really listen to how he/she is feeling without judgment, criticism or instructions on how to feel differently can be an enormously powerful emotional experience, one that could lead to increased self-awareness, communication, emotional resiliency, and a deeper parent-child relationship. And I think that’s the result we’re going for as parents, right?
~Intentional acts of kindness
The feelings of disappointment associated with the novel corona virus are universal as people across the globe have been impacted and in need of good will. Perhaps you know someone personally who has been affected by the virus or a first responder who puts their own life at risk to keep the community healthy. Or perhaps you have a friend in the hospitality industry who has been furloughed or laid off altogether and is now struggling with unimaginable financial stress. Maybe you and your children are simply touched by the endless stories of suffering, resilience, and hope that are broadcast on the news every day. No matter the scenario, think about getting activated with your kids to engage in an intentional act of kindness for the benefit of someone else; even a stranger. Acting selflessly during a time of universal challenge can serve as an intensely meaningful way to support others, while also responding to one’s own feelings of disappointment, sadness, etc. as we all work together to lessen the impact of the virus.
~Take a break from doing
I think this cartoon could be the universal image for what it’s like to parent during this time of isolation. It’s no doubt relatable and humorous, but I also think it’s an important reminder to parents that we pump the breaks on multi-tasking and slow down self-imposed expectations. Understandably, certain things need to be prioritized, but if the dishes or laundry get pushed off until tomorrow, the good news is that you won’t be having company over for a while. So, be kind to yourself and give yourself a break!
Take good care of yourselves and loved ones. We will continue seeing you online until we can see you again at the office!
Allison Lobel, Psy.D.
Director of Child & Adolescent Services
Three great activities to keep kids engaged
- Have your kids create a diorama using a recycled cereal box. Gather construction paper, tissue paper, clay, cotton balls, or anything you can get your hands on and challenge your kids to create a scene in the box. If you want to bring it full circle to one of my recommended activities in Volume 1, have your kids make a diorama of a city or place you planned to visit or a destination in which they express interest.
- Create a scavenger hunt around your home. If you are naturally creative, make up your own clues, but here’s one for inspiration (Thank you, Pinterest).