3 Ways to Comfort a Sad Child

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3 Ways to Comfort a Sad Child
3 Ways to Comfort a Sad Child

Children seem to enjoy life more than adults, but that doesn't mean they're always having fun and playing. Young children can be sad too, and as a parent or guardian, it's your job to figure out what's wrong and help your child feel better. Start by talking about the problem, then find ways to cheer him up with short-term and long-term solutions.


Method 1 of 3: Starting a Dialogue with Children

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 1
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 1

Step 1. Ask what the problem is

If your child is sad, you must be worried. A grieving child may cry, frown, be aloof, or generally act abnormally which is very worrying for parents. There are many reasons why children are sad, so start by asking what is bothering them.

  • Don't avoid discussing the sad situation. If there is a death, divorce, or separation in the family, acknowledge and answer any questions your child may have.
  • There are some children who find it difficult to express their feelings in words. Be patient and keep asking until you understand what went wrong.
  • If your child doesn't know how to say what's wrong, try a 20-question game (with a "warm" or "cold" response) to narrow down the causes that make him sad.
  • If you already know what's upsetting your child, ask prompting questions to get him to talk. For example, "I think you're sad that Jimmy moved," or "I think you're sad that Billy doesn't want to sit with you."
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 2
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 2

Step 2. Don't underestimate her feelings

If your child is experiencing something upsetting, you need to make him feel that his emotions are being acknowledged. This starts with how you start the conversation to how you respond when he tells you what's wrong.

  • Let your child talk about whatever is bothering him. Even if the problem is a difficult one for you to explain, you must listen and respond honestly and lovingly.
  • Never say “forget it” or “don't think about it” or “control yourself” to a child (or anyone else). Those words implied that her feelings were not important.
  • Also, don't say that the situation "isn't that bad". That may be the case from a parent's point of view, but for a child, the feeling of being ignored by a friend during school breaks can be very painful.
  • Be aware that many grieving children also experience other emotions, such as anger or fear. Be patient and try to talk to your child if he or she is afraid or angry with someone.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 3
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 3

Step 3. Talk about your own grief

Some children may not realize that parents can feel sad too. Many parents try to hide their negative emotions to protect their child, which is sometimes healthy, but not to the point that the child thinks you are never sad.

  • Showing or talking about your own sadness can help your child realize that he or she is not alone and that feeling sad is natural.
  • Tell your child that it's okay to cry, and don't be afraid to cry in front of him every now and then. Protect him or keep him away from other children so that no one calls him a “cryf”.
  • Talk about a time when you were sad and let your child know that sometimes you cry too.

Method 2 of 3: Entertaining Children in the Short Term

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 4
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 4

Step 1. Play with children

If your child is feeling sad, try playing with him. It will remind him that you love and care about him, and it may be able to distract him from the problem.

  • If your child is still playing with small children's toys, join him in playing with his favorite toys. If he's already playing video games, try joining in for a few levels.
  • Make sure the child has access to toys/activities that engage the senses. Experts have found that playing with tactile materials, such as clay, toy wax, sand, rice, and even water can help a sad child cope with his emotions.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 5
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 5

Step 2. Show interest in what the child likes

Children have interests in several things, depending on their age, gender, and personality. Whatever the child is interested in, try to get involved in it. It can help him connect with you and possibly open the door for deeper and meaningful conversations about other aspects of his life.

  • If your child likes comics, ask him about his favorite comic or if you can borrow one of his favorite comics.
  • If your child is interested in cartoons or TV shows, ask if you can watch them with them. This can help you understand your child's age-appropriate sense of humor, making it easier for you to cheer him up when he's sad.
  • If your child likes sports, watch a sports match with him or buy tickets to watch a live game in your city.
  • Whatever your child is interested in, you have to develop an interest in the same area to some degree. This will help strengthen the bond and you'll know how to approach him the next time he's sad.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 6
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 6

Step 3. Let the child act out the problem

This may not be for all children, but many children want to act out or role-play the issues they find interesting. Examples are the loss of a family member, such as death, or something the child is experiencing but he or she does not understand, such as a church service or work responsibilities.

  • Role playing is a way to help you understand a concept in a safe setting and indulge his curiosity.
  • Make sure you support the child's choice to act out what happened. You may feel resentful if your child plays a funeral right after the death of someone in the family, but it may be his way of trying to understand loss, death, and bereavement.
  • Participate if your child invites you, but give it a chance if he wants to play alone or with other children.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 7
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 7

Step 4. Take her for a walk or bike ride with her

Exercise can release endorphins that make you feel good. This applies to all ages. If your child is feeling sad or upset about something, try some light exercise together to deal with stress and improve feelings.

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 8
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 8

Step 5. Give your child some alone time

Sometimes kids get tired of being around other people all the time. This can also happen if he is exposed to electronic devices all day long. If your child wants to sit with you, let him, but make sure he can be alone without electronic interference.

  • Don't let your child spend more than two hours watching TV, playing on the computer, or playing video games. This means a total of two hours for all electronics, not two hours each.
  • Spending quiet time alone teaches children to rely on themselves. Over time, she will learn to process emotions and relax or feel better without going through video games or other distractions.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 9
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 9

Step 6. Hug him

This may sound obvious, but hugs are an important way to comfort your child when he or she is sad, stressed, or irritated. Give a hug to the child when he feels sad, and do not let go unless he let go first.

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 10
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 10

Step 7. Surprise the child with something fun

Pleasant surprises can help your child forget the problem for a while. However, you have to be careful that your child doesn't always expect a gift/surprise every time he or she is sad. You should also consider how often or to what extent you use distraction instead of dealing with the real problem as this can be harmful to your child's development.

  • Choose easy and fun surprises that don't cost much. Don't make big surprises like birthdays or Christmas, but give small gifts or fun activities to brighten up the day.
  • Try to use surprises only on the worst days. Don't use this method every time she's sad because she might run away from trouble in the future.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 11
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 11

Step 8. Try to get your child ready for bed

A calming sleep routine is important for children, especially if they are experiencing sadness or a difficult time in their life. Make sure your child gets enough sleep and has plenty of quiet time to relax before bed so he can wake up feeling refreshed and happy.

  • Help your child to relax and release stress before bed. Read a book together, tell him about each other's day, or have him take a warm bath.
  • Set the child's room air conditioning to a comfortable temperature for sleeping. The recommended range is 18 to 22°C, but please set the most comfortable temperature for the child.
  • Remember that children need more sleep than adults. Children ages 5 to 12 need 10 to 11 hours of sleep each night.

Method 3 of 3: Raising Happy Children

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 12
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 12

Step 1. Teach your child to express emotions

For your child to grow up to be a happy person (and so that you can measure your child's happiness), you must teach him to express his emotions and feelings. Some children have a hard time doing this on their own, but you can find ways to help your child identify emotions and express them in appropriate ways.

  • Try asking your child to write down their current feelings on a list. Then talk about why the child feels that way and focus on each emotion/feeling.
  • Ask the child to describe his feelings. Pictures are a good way to express what he or she is going through internally, especially if your child is reluctant to talk about his feelings or has difficulty expressing emotions.
  • Just like adults, some children are more introverted and aloof than others. This doesn't mean there's anything wrong with him or something he's hiding from you, but just ask him to know that you're always there if he needs to talk.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 13
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 13

Step 2. Be consistent

A good way to help your child feel more stable at home is to stick to a consistent routine with your child. Make sure you are always there to provide emotional entertainment and always support the child. Developing a consistent routine takes time, but it's important to your child's happiness and well-being.

Cheer up a Sad Child Step 14
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 14

Step 3. Suggest to the child to start writing an inspiration journal

If your child has never had a diary, help him get started. If he's been diligent in writing in a diary every day, add an inspiration journal to his writing routine.

  • Inspiration journals can help children know that their experiences are important and meaningful. Journals also help him recover when he's having an unpleasant day in the days ahead.
  • Inspiration journals can be broad or specific, depending on what the child likes. Start by suggesting he writes about his everyday discoveries, experiences, questions, and of course inspiration.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 15
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 15

Step 4. Take the kids on an adventure together

Exploring new places and things with children is a great experience to strengthen the bond even more. Shared adventures can teach children a new level of curiosity, as well as a new way of seeing and thinking about the world.

  • You and your child can visit a museum, take dance lessons, or learn a new hobby.
  • Take the kids on a little adventure to the park, or take a short drive to see interesting and entertaining places or sights.
  • Make sure the adventure planned is interesting for the child. Ask for his input or suggestions, or share your ideas with him before starting the adventure.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 16
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 16

Step 5. Help the child discover what his intelligence is

Studies show that "expertise," i.e. channeling talent and success, is very important for developing children. This can help children feel meaningful, develop purpose, and feel proud of their accomplishments.

  • If your child enjoys a particular activity such as watching a hockey game or a dance competition, ask if he or she is interested in signing up for lessons or a competitive league.
  • Don't force your child to participate in sports or activities that they don't like. Let him decide if and when he's ready to get serious about something.
  • Make sure you don't develop an overly competitive attitude toward your child's activities. Remember that your child is not going to win every game/competition, so focus on praising his efforts and saying that he is doing well.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 17
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 17

Step 6. Teach your child to be grateful

Gratitude goes beyond feeling grateful for something physical. You must teach your child to be grateful for the positive experiences in his life, the family that loves him, and the skills and hobbies he enjoys.

  • Encourage your child to appreciate the "little" things, like taking a walk in the park on a nice day or enjoying a glass of his favorite juice.
  • Try sticking the chart on the wall or refrigerator door. Have the child fill in the chart with things he loves about his family, himself, and the world around him.
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 18
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 18

Step 7. Know when to ask for help

Most children experience sadness and joy as the days go by, but there are some children who suffer from clinical depression, behavioral problems, and trauma. If your child has the following symptoms on a regular basis, consider seeing a therapist for them:

  • Developmental delays (speaking, language, or learning to use the toilet)
  • Difficulty learning or paying attention
  • Behavioral problems, including excessive anger/aggression, tantrums, bedwetting, or eating disorders
  • A marked decline in school grades or achievement
  • Frequent or repeated experiences of sadness, fear, or depression
  • Withdrawing, isolating himself, and/or diminishing interest in activities he previously enjoyed
  • Being a victim of a survivor, or bullying other children
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Often late or miss lessons
  • Unpredictably changing mood
  • Signs of substance abuse (including alcohol, drugs, prescription drugs, or solvents)
  • Difficulty transitioning through changes in life
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 19
Cheer up a Sad Child Step 19

Step 8. Find a therapist for your child

If you believe your child will be able to help with therapy, you should find the right therapist. In addition to a therapist, you may want to consider a psychiatrist (a doctor who specializes in psychotherapy and pharmacology), a clinical psychologist (a therapist with a doctorate and further education in psychology), or a clinical social worker (usually trained in psychotherapy, but not always, check for qualifications).

  • Start by asking your pediatrician for a referral or recommendation. If you don't get results, you can ask a trusted friend, relative, or coworker.
  • You can also find a qualified child therapist online.
  • Once you've found a therapist that seems appropriate, ask if you can get a quick consultation or talk on the phone. You should try to get to know the therapist's personality before agreeing to make regular appointments.
  • Some therapists will charge for this initial consultation, while others will not. Find this out beforehand so you're not surprised when you receive your bill.
  • Make sure the therapist you are considering has a license to practice. You should also check his qualifications and experience.
  • Find out how long the therapist has been working with children and teens.
  • Consider whether the therapist would be liked by your child and considered friendly and approachable.
  • Ask what type of therapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, etc.) the therapist specializes in.
  • Check if your health insurance will cover the cost of therapy for your child.


  • If your child has a pet, make him cuddle/play with the pet (if possible) because it can entertain him.
  • Spend time with your child when he or she is feeling down. He should know that you are always there for him.
  • Try to understand what your child is going through, and don't judge or punish him for his feelings.


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