What to Do If Your Child Is Unhappy

Every parent wants to give their children a happy childhood, although, sometimes, you're unsure how to do it. In this article, we'll share some tips to help you out.
What to Do If Your Child Is Unhappy
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Every parent wants their children to be happy and healthy. Sadly, life doesn’t come with a manual and, although you’re trying your best, sometimes things don’t work out the way you want them to. If your child is unhappy and you’re not sure what to do, then this article is for you.

Where does happiness come from?

You might have asked yourself why some children are happier than others. Why is it so simple for some to enjoy the good things in life, and some find it so hard to? As a parent, seeing that your child is unhappy can certainly make you anxious and concerned.

The good news is that happiness can be achieved. 50% of our happiness comes from our genes, 10% is influenced by our lives, and 40% represents our attitude, i.e. the thinking patterns we learn.

Therefore, you, as a parent, can teach your children the right emotional and cognitive patterns to help them live life to the fullest. You can also try to improve their circumstances.

What to Do If Your Child Is Unhappy

My child is unhappy. What can I do?

As a parent, you want to give your children the best childhood possible, to make them feel safe and at ease. You try to teach them how to enjoy life and be happy with the little things.

However, sometimes you can have doubts about your children’s wellbeing. Therefore, first, you need to identify if your child is unhappy, or if he or she is just going through hard times.

Happy children look happy and active, they smile and share their joy with others. They also have a lot of friends and enjoy building relationships with others.

Happy children are grateful and appreciate the good things in life and other people’s goodness. Their view of the world is very positive. Children who are happy also feel motivated to try something new, or a hobby or skill they enjoy. They’re confident and independent.

What to Do If Your Child Is Unhappy

How can I help my child feel better?

Love them unconditionally

An essential requirement to being happy is to feel loved and to trust those you love. Love and accept your children for who they are, let them know you love them. This way your bond will be stronger, you’ll be able to notice any mood swings and help them solve them.

Healthy boundaries

If you think that setting rules or saying no to your child can make them unhappy, it’s the other way around. Children need clear boundaries.

Rules can be their map and show them what to expect out of life, and what’s expected of them too. This can give them confidence and teach them how to handle frustrations.

What to Do If Your Child Is Unhappy

If your child is unhappy, work on his or her self-esteem

Self-esteem is one of the best teachings to give your children. Therefore, help them build a healthy sense of self-worth, make them feel capable and valuable.

Help them become independent, give them responsibilities and let them solve their problems, to a healthy extent. The sense of accomplishment will help them create their persona.

Encourage them to be positive

Teach them to be positive and optimistic, to be kind and grateful, to value and enjoy all the good things around. Help them to prioritize their problems and to solve them. The best way to do this is to teach by example and have a positive attitude too.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Sánchez Hernández, Ó., & Méndez Carrillo, F. X. (2009). El optimismo como factor protector de la depresión infantil y adolescente. Clinica y salud20(3), 273-280.
  • Alvarez-Icaza, M. A. V., Gómez-Maqueo, E. L., & Durán Patiño, C. (2004). La influencia de la autoestima en la percepción del estrés y el afrontamiento en niños de edad escolar. Salud mental27(4), 18-25.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.