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8 phrases that help kids deal with disappointment

Feeling disappointed when something is canceled due to social distancing is understandable, not selfish—especially for kids. Here's how to help them through.

help kids with disappointment during social distancing

Understatement of the year: The past few months have been a bit of an adjustment for families. Social distancing and statewide shutdowns have been difficult and frustrating for everyone. The pandemic has been full of disappointments, both large and small, as major events and milestones—birthdays, graduations, family vacations—are delayed, downsized or canceled. While these changes are upsetting for adults, they can be downright devastating to children.

Because children have had fewer life experiences, each event can hold more importance to them than to adults. Being the lead in the school play (or even the third tree from the left) is a major accomplishment! Children also have less emotional control, so they have a harder time managing their feelings. These factors are heightened by social distancing, which has thrown off everyone's routine and increased stress levels.

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Together, these factors make it difficult for children to handle disappointments right now. As parents, we can help our littles by giving them tools to handle these strange times.

The following 8 phrases can help you soothe both young and older kids and work towards a reasonable solution when they're feeling disappointed.


For younger kids: "I know not being able to (X) is hard."

When children complain about an event that was canceled, or that it's unfair they can't do something they used to do, try sympathizing with them. Sometimes kids don't want or need a solution, they just want to be heard. Echoing their feelings by agreeing the situation is hard (or unfair or frustrating) can help kids feel heard and validated.

For older kids: "Let's talk about it."

Much like the above phrase for younger kids, this phrase lets older kids know you sympathize with them and respect their feelings. Older children may have multiple emotions about the situation: sadness at missing out, anxiety about the virus or even guilt for focusing on themselves during a pandemic. Using this phrase allows children the space to express their emotions without feeling like you're telling them what to do or how to feel.

For younger kids: "Sometimes, it helps me to (X)"

Children are often stuck in their emotions and struggle to find effective coping strategies. Telling your children what to do ("You need to take a deep breath." "You need to go calm down.") can be frustrating; nobody likes being given commands when they're upset.

Offering ideas instead of giving commands allows children to choose what sounds helpful to them. It often helps to offer a few strategies you think may work, saying, "Sometimes it helps me to take some deep breaths or pet the dog when I'm upset," or "Sometimes it helps me to go for a bike ride or paint a picture when I'm sad."

For older kids: "What can I do to help?"

Unlike little kids who need to be taught coping strategies, older kids may already know what they need. Asking this question shows you're interested in helping however they need. They may ask for a hug, a break to calm down, a chance to talk or an idea for how to solve the problem. They may also say, "I don't know," which is a great opening for you to offer some ideas that help you.

For younger kids: "I know we can't (X), but what if we (Y) instead?"

When kids are upset that they can't do things the way they have in the past, it can help to show them new ways to have similar experiences. Although they can't have a birthday party, they can have a virtual birthday party where friends sing to them. Although they can't perform in the final concert, they can record their part and email it to family members. Help kids find novel solutions during social distancing so they don't miss out on activities, they just do them in new ways.

For older kids: "I know we can't (X), but let's find another way to do it."

Rather than tell older children how to fix the problem, this phrase shows that you're open to their ideas. Older kids often have lots of ideas on what they want to do, but may doubt you'll approve their solutions. This phrase opens the door for them to share their ideas, and then you can work together to try to make one work.

For younger kids: "I'm sorry this is happening. I wish I could fix it for you."

Sometimes kids just want to know you're on their side. Using a simple phrase that confirms what's happening is real and frustrating, while also indicating you're there to help, can be extremely powerful. You're showing your children that even though times are difficult, you're there for them.

For older kids: "Things are pretty strange right now. What do you need to make it easier?"

The reality is that our lives are completely different than they were just a few weeks ago. We've thrown a lot at kids, especially older ones. They're missing camp and school, stuck at home without their friends—and because they're big kids, they're expected to navigate it without tantrums or attitude. Allow children to express how hard things are, and remember it's okay to baby them, just a little bit, while they adjust.

Although the phrases above won't magically fix anything, they can help children cope with their disappointment. The goal is to let children know their feelings are valid and you're willing to help them, however you can.

I felt lost as a new mother, but babywearing helped me find myself again

I wish someone had told me before how special wearing your baby can be, even when you have no idea how to do it.

My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).

It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around. I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it .

Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.

Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.

Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.


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14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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The American Academy of Pediatrics says that newborns, especially, do not need a bath every day. While parents should make sure the diaper region of a baby is clean, until a baby learns how to crawl around and truly get messy, a daily bath is unnecessary.

So, why do we feel like kids should bathe every day?

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