Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

There are so many things that have suddenly disappeared from kids’ lives: sports tournaments, birthday parties, school friends, playdates. How do we help them cope with the disappointment?

Great question! I know a few disappointed adults out here, as well. It is so hard to see our children in pain. The bright side, and we need to keep looking for the bright side during the COVID-19 crisis, is that it’s possible to respond in a way that helps kids weather the disappointments and also build resilience for life’s future difficulties.

When our child is upset about a cancelled birthday party, or not being able to see their best friend, it can be tempting to try to make them feel better. Maybe your teen is devastated by the realization that there might not be prom or grad in a few months. These are the realities we are all facing right now.

Story continues below advertisement

We might try to distract them with all the fun things they can do at home, or promise that when things get back to normal we’ll do something even better. We love our kids so much. We don’t want to see them suffer and we’re worried that they can’t handle all these disappointments.

Or maybe it’s the opposite. We might feel worried that they are making such a big deal about such small things. We might try to give them some perspective: At least they have food to eat, Netflix, a roof over their head. Stop whining!

These reactions are completely understandable. But I have a different approach for you.

Don’t try to make your child feel better. Help them stay with the sadness so that they can let go of their disappointment. Help them discover that they can handle all of the curveballs that life will inevitably throw at them in the future.

Think about the last time you were really upset about something. Maybe you had a terrible day at work and your boss was giving you a hard time. You might have said to your partner or a friend something like, “I can’t stand it any more! My boss is such a jerk.” You want them to reply, “Wow. That does sound terrible. I am so sorry you had such a bad day. Tell me about it.” Maybe you’d cry and rage but then you would feel better.

What if instead they said, “Oh come on. It’s not that bad. At least you have a job!” True, perhaps. But not helpful. Not only do we feel dismissed, we might dig our heels in further in our attempt to get some understanding. When we are upset, we need empathy and acknowledgment to move through the feelings and get over it.

When our kids are upset, we need to acknowledge their sadness and disappointment and empathize with them so they can move on. Emotions are like a messy swamp and the only way out is through. We need to feel our emotions to get through to the other side. Only then will the big feelings subside.

Story continues below advertisement

It’s okay if you don’t agree that it is the end of the world that they can’t have their birthday party or playdates or organized sports. Empathy is about seeing it from the other person’s point of view. These are the age-appropriate disappointments that will prepare them for bigger disappointments later in life. With your help, your child can learn that big feelings are not an emergency. Resilience isn’t never getting upset. Resilience is being able to recover after a setback.

When your child is upset or disappointed, acknowledge their feelings and empathize with how hard this is. You can say, “Of course you’re disappointed. Anyone would be. I’m so sorry that this is happening, sweetie.” And be quiet. Be with them in their sadness. You can’t fix it, but you know that they can handle it. Take comfort that today’s disappointments build resilience. With your help, they will learn that they can handle anything.

Sign up for the weekly Parenting & Relationships newsletter for news and advice to help you be a better parent, partner, friend, family member or colleague.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies