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Mom Minute Monday: Helping kids deal with disappointment

It's hard enough as adults to process the disappointments of the last year due to the pandemic. We got expert advice on how to help your kids deal.

CLEVELAND — We've all been in ‘stay safe at home’ mode for almost a full year as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. It's hard enough for us as adults, but can be even harder for children to understand.

This Mom Minute Monday, 3News’ Maureen Kyle talked to Dr. Vanessa Jensen, pediatric psychologist with the Cleveland Clinic about how to help our kids deal with disappointment. A lot of times, disappointment can center on things that children look forward to most, like birthday parties or family gatherings.

Dr. Jensen says it’s important for parents to realize that we all make mistakes and that’s OK, as long as you own it.

“If you did say, next year you'll have a big birthday party, we have to go back and correct ourselves. ‘You know, I did say that, and that's what I really thought,’” says Dr. Jensen.

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She says let your child know you understand how they’re feeling, but try not to dwell on it too much.

“Keep it short, keep it simple and look to the future.”

Dr. Jensen says it’s also really important for parents to show their kids what they’re feeling, too.

“Acknowledge the feeling and if you could own your own feelings. When kids see their parents having the same feelings and seeing their parents deal with it that's a really healthy model. So label it, acknowledge it and then look at the diversion as helping them to move ahead. Not to something better. It's probably not better and you don't want to pretend that it is.”

Dr. Jensen says to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t. If it helps, maybe even make tentative plans for later in the year for your child’s big day.

“Hopefully by the next birthday, or maybe if things get better this summer, we'll have a quarter birthday or a half birthday and have your friends over.”

Another issue that may come up is if children have friends who may have more relaxed rules regarding COVID-19 in place at home. Dr. Jensen says, to treat it like you would any other rule within your home. She says to explain that every family has different rules, but it's my job to make the best rules for you and our family.

“Have that conversation. Every family has different rules. Every parent has different rules. It's their job to set the rules for their kids, it's my job, or our job, to have the rules for you.”