5 Keys to Comfort Your Child when They're Sad

It's important to comfort your child when they're sad. Here are some keys so that you can console them and make them feel better.
5 Keys to Comfort Your Child when They're Sad
María José Roldán

Written and verified by the psychopedagogue María José Roldán.

Last update: 13 February, 2023

There’s nothing that makes us parents feel worse than seeing our children sad. Although it’s an emotion like any other, it makes us feel bad. It’s even a necessary feeling at certain times in order to have an emotional balance. Of course, as long as we analyze that sadness and look for solutions that make us feel better. Therefore, we must learn to identify and manage it correctly in order to move forward in life. In this regard, it’s essential to know some keys to comfort your child when they’re sad.

How to know if your child is sad

Each person is different and, therefore, so is each child. So, the way to know if a child is sad or not is to look at their behavior, because sadness can appear in the most subtle way. For example, they may have behavioral changes, isolate themselves from others, or not want to talk as much as they used to. Therefore, parents should pay special attention to what their child does or says.

Apathy can also be part of sadness, as well as crying or changes in habits, such as eating or sleeping too little or too much. Also, you may feel that your little one is displaying an anxious attitude that’s out of the ordinary. Therefore, the causes can be very diverse. Sometimes they’re easy to recognize, and sometimes not. Feeling bad about this type of emotion in their children, parents will probably want to find a way to improve their child’s mood.

A little girl crying on her parents bed.
When a child feels sad, you have to listen to them, accompany them, and look for the root of the matter to talk about their feelings and help them.

Keys to comfort your child if they’re sad

Of course, it’s crucial to never minimize your child’s feelings. Never punish or scold them for an emotion. In this regard, don’t miss these keys to comfort your child if they’re sad.

1. Cuddle with your child

Human warmth makes us feel better, closer, and connected to others. That’s why cuddling with your child when they’re feeling down is a way to make them feel good, even if they’re sad for a particular reason. Of course, respect your child if they don’t want physical contact.

2. Acknowledge their sadness

Sadness is just as important an emotion as other emotions that we tend to consider better, such as happiness. Your child should know that, although it’s an emotion that makes us feel bad, we should understand it, as it’s something we all feel from time to time.

3. Help your child identify their feelings

Sadness sometimes shows itself through aggressiveness or frustration. Therefore, children should be given space and taught healthy ways to let off steam, always respecting themselves and others.

4. Listen to what they have to say

Give your child the space they need to express how they feel. Listen with understanding and compassion, but don’t judge or minimize their feelings.

5. Hug them

A  mother’s embrace is the best medicine for little ones. And even more so when you allow your child to express their emotions without feeling the need to hide them.

A mother holding her sad daughter.
Children should see in their parents a strong emotional support that allows them to be themselves, as well as a guide to recognize what’s happening to them and look for solutions.

When to worry

Sadness in itself isn’t bad, as long as it is properly managed. You should teach your children that it’s an adaptive feeling that tells us to look for solutions. However, there may also be times when you should pay more attention and, if necessary, seek professional help. When should this be? Pay attention:

  • The sadness lasts too long (weeks).
  • Your child cries a lot (over time).
  • They complain about everything.
  • They have no interest in doing things they used to like to do.
  • They don’t want to eat and are never hungry.
  • They don’t sleep well.

Sadness shouldn’t be suppressed but understood

Children should learn that sadness should be the necessary impulse to ask for help, especially if loneliness or negative thoughts make them feel bad. In this regard, we must reflect on what’s happening to us and move forward. Being sad isn’t a bad thing, so we shouldn’t suppress this emotion. But we must understand it in order to fight it.

In any case, if this emotion is very common in your child, then the best thing to do is to talk to their pediatrician. They’ll be able to determine if your child needs professional help to evaluate their mental health and seek complementary treatment.

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.

  •  Méndez Carrillo, F. (2011) El niño que no sonríe: Estrategias para superar la tristeza y la depresión infantil. Editorial: Pirámide

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