Crying…Six Things to Help When Your Child is Sad

Crying is tough. It’s meant to get our attention & it’s meant to get us to do something. When there’s a physical need (hunger, illness, tiredness) our role is easier – we provide for the physical need & the child feels relieved, fulfilled & settled again.

But sometimes it feels like there’s no reason for the crying. Sometimes we feel like we’ve tried everything and there’s no answer.

What do we “do” in these moments? What’s our role when a child is in the depths of sadness and it feels like there’s nothing we can do to help?

  1. Reassure ourselves. You are not a bad parent because your child is crying.
  2. Remember crying is a healthy expression of human emotion. This doesn’t mean crying should ever be ignored – but it does mean it’s okay to cry.
  3. Focus on heartfelt connection. When children are sad or stressed, they are filled with stress hormones. The best way to counter these is to fill them with love hormones through connection & responsiveness.
  4. Breathe – really breathe. When we start to panic that our child isn’t okay, our breathing can tighten and our whole body gets tense. While you are with your child just take a moment to remind yourself to breathe. As we start to breathe regularly and calmly we also offer them the opportunity to tune into our breathing and regulate their own, helping them to feel calmer.
  5. Validate, validate, validate. Make sure they know it’s okay to be feeling whatever they are feeling and that they they are still loved.
  6. Hold on to the fact that we don’t always need to “do”. Our job is to love, support and hold them through the distress so they know all their feelings are safe and can be survived. Sometimes, connection, a hug, validation, gentle words of love & reassurance are the most powerful things we can offer a child.