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Sad or Upset

What is sadness?

Sadness is a natural feeling that everyone experiences. For example, children might feel sad over a fight with a friend, losing something they value, or because they're having difficulty in school. Sadness can be a healthy indicator of possessing empathy and serves an essential role in flagging a need for help or comfort.

What does sadness look like for your child?

Sadness can be different for each child. Some children might manifest their sadness as anger and irritability. Try to read between the lines and see if you can find the source of their frustration.

When to start a conversation

It's important to have conversations with your child about coping with sadness when they feel it. But, it’s also important that your child doesn’t feel pressured to talk if they’re not ready to.

Start a conversation early and often. The earlier you understand the reason, the sooner you’ll be able to help address the issue, and help your child feel supported through it.

Be mindful and read the room. Sometimes, all children need to know is that someone is listening to them.

In conversation

While your child is talking, try not to interrupt or jump in with solutions. When they've finished, try to summarize or rephrase what they said to check your understanding. 

Be gentle and mindful when rephrasing what your child said, using words like “What I’m hearing is…”, “When that happened, you felt sad or hurt…”. 

Never mock or undermine their emotions. Once you’ve confirmed how they’re feeling, remind your child that it’s okay to feel that way. Having a conversation can be challenging, but it’s also good that they are talking about it. Let them know that you're grateful they shared with you.

Five conversation starter pack cards splayed out on a blue background.

Talk with your child

Our Conversation Starter Pack (CSP) is an interactive resource, available in English and Spanish, that supports parents, caregivers, trusted adults and young people in discussions about emotional wellness. It includes reflection questions, dialogue prompts and activities everyone can take part in.