If you ask parents what they most want for their child, many will say something like this: “I just want my child to be happy”. Whilst most of them know, at a logical level, that they can’t make this happen, seeing their children frequently or deeply sad, is very confronting.
This is true for us as professionals too. While we may be quite used to supporting and working with children who are anxious, frequently frustrated and disappointed, and know the steps to take in helping children manage these other emotions, there is something additionally challenging about working with a child who appears frequently or deeply sad.
It is also challenging to work with parents of these children. Often parents who have children who experience frequent or strong sadness themselves feel helpless, frustrated, worried – and like a failure at some very deep level. Sometimes they express their pain in being particularly demanding towards us. This then leads to even more pressure for us as professionals to “do something”!
However, the truth is - it is not uncommon for children to experience times of sadness. Although only about 2-3% of prepubertal children will experience the type and extent of sadness psychologists will diagnose as a formal depressive disorder, many more children experience slightly less severe – but still persistent and frequent – sadness at some point during their childhood.Read More