Not every day is going to be sunshine and rainbows, but sometimes we feel like we've forgotten what the sun looks like. As adults, we know times can be tough. We learn to acknowledge the difficulty of the situation—maybe cry a little—then find a way to keep moving forward.
Your kids might be learning this lesson for the first time. It's never easy to realize our plans won't work or that this little task is going to be way harder and take way longer than we thought. Being frustrated and learning how to manage yourself in the midst of overwhelming emotion is a huge part of growing up. It's a skill your kids will have to learn. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean you can't be of help as they go through the growth process. Here are some meaningful ways to cheer up your kids.
When your kids are feeling down, telling them to "Feel better!" isn't likely to be helpful. The emotions have to be felt and processed. Your kids don't necessarily know this though. It doesn't seem very efficient. Tears aren't going to help anything. The problem is still there. However, adults know that emotions tell us how we are feeling inside which can tell us what the next best step is, and they can drive us forward when we direct them well. The better your kids get at doing this, the faster they'll be able to bounce back from disappointment.
Ice cream makes everyone feels better! Grab a tub of your child's favorite ice cream and sit down to eat. If ice cream isn't your child's preference, consider another snack they'll like. Whatever you choose, let sharing food open up an opportunity for your child to confide in you. If your child is a verbal processor, his or her building emotions can probably find some relief from the tension with a good long conversation. Having someone who loves you listen when you're exploding in anger or hold you while you're crying is so valuable. Remember, this is not the time to solve the problem. This is the time to work through the emotions. Just listen.
Some kids are not verbal processors, they like action. When you're full of overwhelming feelings, sometimes you just need a physical outlet to get it all out! Smashing a tennis ball with a racquet, booting a soccer ball into a goal, smashing a volleyball, dunking a basketball, or playing a game of dodgeball — there are a lot of options for physical activities that can relieve stress. Even putting on some yoga pants and working hard at the gym might be another option. This solution is great for situations that are just bad and there's not really anything anyone can do. When there's all this energy and nowhere to direct it, you can become an encouraging teammate or challenging opponent and help your child work through the initial fury of failure or disappointment.
Sometimes we all need a break. We need to step back from the problem, go outside, do something else, and come back later with a clearer mind. Kids don't always know when it's actually better to stop working and worrying. You can help them clear their heads by inviting them out for an activity that has nothing to do with their problems.
Sometimes getting outside is exactly what we didn't know we needed. Fresh air, a little bit of nature, and suddenly things seem more possible than they did five minutes ago. Throw on your sneakers and a men's or women's t-shirt and invite your child on a walk with you. It doesn't need to be long. Sometimes a walk around the block is all you need. If there's a little more time, consider going to a nearby restaurant and getting some lunch. Maybe going shopping can be something to get your child's mind off of the problem for a little while. Whatever you do, try to help your child's mind rest by changing up their focus.
The idea is to get your child out of the home environment where the problem feels like it's everywhere. Dressing up in an event dress or a men's suit and going out to the theater or even for a movie is a good way to get your child out of the house and looking forward to something. When the entertainment is engaging, it will naturally hold your child's attention and they will have a few moments of rest. Consider going to get something delicious afterward. You can keep the conversation away from your child's issue by talking about the show, or this might be a great opportunity for them to tell you what's going on. Whichever way it goes, great!
Now that you have some ideas for how you might cheer them, think about how you would tailor your cheering methods to your child. As a parent, you know them best! Good luck!