How to Help Young Children Deal with Sadness and Other Feelings

Children experience a wide range of emotions and often switch so quickly it’s hard to know where or when an adult should step in.

Take for example the time when your child was screaming because they wanted to keep their socks on when you needed them off and then the next day they were screaming because they didn’t want to wear them.

Same thing with so many other situations right?

It happens for a lot of reasons which you can learn more about that on this blog post and how you can intercept those mood swings in the moment.

But what you should know is that there are so many things you can do to change that behavior before it gets to these situations.

Teaching kids how to become aware of their feelings is a first step so they can control them.

These are skills they need to learn when they’re young so by the time they are faced with more challenging situations they can navigate them.

Here are 5 easy activity ideas to teach young kids to deal with sadness.

1. Play a copycat face game.

By exaggerating what a sad face looks like along with all of the other faces you’ll be able to get your little ones to be able to mimic and identify sad faces. This in turn will help them recognize their sad face in the mirror or be able to express their sadness in more appropriate ways.

2. Role play (doctor or hospital)

This is fun when one person pretends to be hurt, the other can show kindness and helpful behaviors while labeling the sadness. Start out with the adult/child or use some dolls or stuffed animals. As children get comfortable with this they can start to do it with each other.

3. Sing!

Sing if you’re happy and you know it, but also when you’re sad and you know it, don't just do the crying version, also do the long face look like this version.

You know children have a wide range of expressions when they’re sad or angry. Let them practice their expressions in various ways through this fun song.

4. Play a Matching Game

Collect a bunch of pictures of people and their facial expressions and put them in a bag. Then pull out one picture at a time and have the child use a mirror to copy the expression. Be sure to label the feelings and description of the facial features. This will encourage children to do it more on their own over time and practice.

5. Play doh faces

Using play doh with face print outs is such a fun activity to do hands on to keep kids involved.

This supports fine motor skills needed for writing as well as emotional support as you can discuss how faces look. Children can create facial expressions with these printouts and playdoh.

Or if you don’t have play doh, then put them in a sheet protector and use a dry erase marker or washable marker to draw faces on them.