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 us know, at a logical level, that we can’t make this happen, seeing our children frequently or deeply sad, is very confronting.
Observing sadness in our children often feels different to parents than it does to observe them experience other emotions. When we see our child anxious, frustrated or even disappointed it feels to us that these are normal, temporary and resolvable. We also feel like there is a role for us to teach and support our children through these emotions.
But seeing our children experience frequent or strong sadness – and not being able to make them feel better – is much more painful. It can make parents feel helpless, frustrated, worried – and like a failure at some very deep level. It feels “wrong” in some subconscious way.
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