10 Ideas to Support Persistent Child Sadness

sad child hiding from parents

It’s difficult to deal with child sadness. While we want our children to have wonderful careers, a family of their own, and a healthy income, the thing you probably want most for your child is for them to be happy. 

So when you notice your child seems frequently sad, it can be very challenging to deal with.

Why do some children feel sad all the time?

Long-lasting, persistent depression in young children is unusual. But many will go through periods of sadness. Some children are simply more sensitive to strong emotions.

For others, difficult life circumstances have an enormous impact on their overall happiness:

  • Financial hardship
  • Family turbulence
  • Changes to circumstances
  • Family or personal ill health
  • Low self-esteem
  • Friendship issues and bullying

If your child is feeling low because of a specific life event, like a bereavement, they will most likely adjust to the change over time. Circumstances may change or they’ll learn how to think about the situation in a more positive way. 

What does persistent child sadness look like?

Everyone feels sad from time to time, usually because of a specific reason. Persistent child sadness lasts for longer and isn’t necessarily triggered by one event.

You might notice your child is:

  • Less willing to socialise
  • Frequently crying
  • Shows low self-esteem

When we feel down, our brains focus on the negatives. Your child might say they feel sad all the time, and will struggle to remember any of the good things that are happening in their life. 

Happy family going for a walk

10 ideas to help with child sadness

You may find it frustrating or annoying if your child is always feeling sad. Or, you might feel helpless because you want to make them happy, but don’t know how. 

There’s no magic bullet to make your child feel happy, but there are lots of practical things you can do:

  1. Avoid getting angry with them. This tells them that feeling sad is bad and something to be ashamed of. 
  2. Be patient. It’s hard when you want to change things, but you can’t force them to suddenly “be happy” or “get over it.”
  3. Look at their physical health. Are they getting enough sleep, exercise, and nutrition?
  4. Empathise with them. Be open and ready to listen when they want to talk. 
  5. Use emotional vocabulary. Help them understand and express how they are feeling.
  6. Identify triggers. Help them identify any triggers and plan together how they can manage or avoid these situations.
  7. Talk about the positives in their day. You could say, “Tell me three nice things that happened today.” You’re not trying to ignore or suppress negatives, but to emphasise the positives. 
  8. Boost their self-esteem. Praise them when they do well at something, encourage them to develop a hobby, and talk to them about their strengths.
  9. Encourage them to socialise with friends and family. It’s important for them to have an emotional connection with others.
  10. Keep them occupied. Show them activities to occupy and distract their mind when they’re feeling sad, such as colouring and drawing, knitting, crafts, Lego, sports, or getting into nature.

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