Sadness, 4 ways children express it

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Catherine Le Nevez
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When an adult is sad, they usually recognize how they feel and can tell others what is happening to them. looking for different strategies to manage the situation.

However, when a child is sad, even if the pain and sadness are actually present, he does not necessarily recognize what is happening to him and does not always clearly manifest these moods.

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Children do not always know the words to express what they feel or fail to recognize their discomfort as adults do. For this reason, their way of manifesting discomfort is through the behavior.

Marcela Gonzalez, a Spanish psychologist and psychotherapist, explained to the magazine the various ways children express sadness. Here are what they are.

1. They are aggressive or very agitated

1. They are aggressive or very agitated

Although it may seem strange to parents, children sometimes become irritable and even aggressive or very agitated and hyperactive to express sadness. These are the most common manifestations of pain. (Read what children's aggression depends on and my child is aggressive).

2. They get discouraged right away

It is also possible that they reveal sadness with discouragement and reluctance towards activities they had previously benefited from. For example, they have a hard time playing games or tend to drop out of activities they love at the slightest difficulty.

3. They sleep more (or less) or eat less

They may sleep less or more than usual or start eating less. Generally speaking, they may experience a sudden change in habits.

4. They isolate themselves from others

They may be more shy than usual or have a tendency to isolate themselves from others (Read more: Tips to help a shy child).

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Sadness in children, why is it difficult to recognize?

On the one hand, why manifestations of sadness in children differ greatly from common expressions of grief in adults, and on the other, because it generates a lot of anguish in adults to recognize that children feel a certain way.

Sometimes, some manifestations of sadness - such as aggression, for example - can be classified as unwanted behavior or "bad behavior" by parents. The risk, in this case, is to label as bad behavior something that is actually a symptom of a profound malaise, which should instead be recognized and channeled by the parents or adults responsible for the children.

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How parents should act

  1. When faced with unwanted attitudes or behaviors, try to maintain a listening attitude. This will allow you to carve out a space to think and to try to understand what happens.
  2. Ask yourself if there have been abrupt changes in the child's behavior, if there was any situation that caused him discomfort (such as, for example, changes in the family context, loss of someone, etc.).
  3. Try to define the child's feelings, talk to him saying: "I understand that you feel sad ...", "This situation must have made you feel bad". Little by little the baby will be able to recognize that for what he feels there are words, which can be defined and thought about and which is not just an unmentionable feeling or an explosion of emotions. In this way you help him understand what is happening inside him.
  4. Support him in what he feels, tell him that you understand that he is very upset and that he feels bad. Reassure him that you will stay next to him. Parents sometimes feel uneasy about not being able to handle the child's frustration.

If we can recognize the child's sadness and make it easier for him to express what he is feeling, we will help him calm down and reduce that discomfort. This will be the basis for him to discover his resources, manage his emotions and achieve calm in the future. To know more:
  • how to teach the abc of emotions to children
  • the emotional education of children
  • we learn to recognize a child's emotions
  • 20 books on emotions for children
  • how to teach children to recognize emotions?

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  • psyche
  • pain children
  • as children express sadness
  • 1-2 children years
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