• Jenna Owen

Holiday Cancelled? How to Break the Bad News to the Kids

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

The last year has been an emotional rollercoaster for many, and the thoughts of finally being able to jet abroad for a much needed holiday in the sun has been the dangled carrot that’s kept spirits up during what has been a difficult year .

Despite the continued easing of restrictions, with Portugal now on the amber list and other destinations being reviewed every three weeks, millions of holidays over the next few months could still be at risk.

Many will be keeping their fingers crossed that their holiday plans will go without a hitch, however, as a former psychiatrist and professional women’s coach I'm urging parents across the country to ‘play it safe’ by preparing for bad news in case the worst happens.

Recognising that the past year has been ‘totally exhausting’ for many families, I suggest planning ahead so that the disappointing news can be delivered in a way which ‘causes the least upset possible’.

Whilst there is never a good way to deliver the news that your much awaited holiday has been cancelled, here are my 5 tips for breaking the news as gently as possible.

Have a backup plan ready

There is nothing worse than telling the kids the holiday is off without having a backup plan in place. A UK staycation could be an exciting alternative and would still give the kids something to look forward to despite the disappointment. Having this booked when you break the news and even showing them the highlights of their upcoming adventure is a great way to distract them and keep the conversation upbeat

Rehearse your speech

It can be tempting to break the news to the family as soon as you find out, after all, you are probably more gutted about it than they are. But it’s important to practice your speech until you sound convincing. If you say it and believe it enough, the kids will too.

Choose the right time

Choosing the right time to break bad news can be the difference between managing the situation well and witnessing a full meltdown. Try to avoid telling the kids when they are tired and ensure that there is enough time afterwards to process the information and ask any questions.

Be honest

Whilst you don’t have to go into all the intricate details, it is important you explain to the kids that the plans have had to change and that it was beyond your control. Teaching resilience at an early age is really important. Explain that life won’t always go to plan and use it as an opportunity to teach them how to move forward positively in the face of obstacles or disappointment.

Move on quickly

There is no point in rubbing salt in the wounds, so break the news and then quickly move on. Try to avoid moping around and feeling down in the dumps about your holiday as the kids will pick up on your negative vibes. Try to remember that there are plenty of things to be grateful for and that can bring joy to your day. Focus on the present rather than pondering on what might have been.

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