Coping with sadness

Published Categorized as A look at one emotion, emotional literacy, sadness, Videos

To support the video I made: What can we say about sadness? here are some notes and activity ideas.

Message Further notes, activities and discussion points.

Sadness is not an enjoyable emotion.

 Like many unenjoyable emotions, sadness is part of normal human existence.

It’s important that children know that a person should expect to experience   unenjoyable in their lifetime and not to panic when they do!

Melancholy is a sort of bittersweet sadness that you could think about with your child.

Sadness is often

triggered by loss.

 It could be the loss of a friendship, pet, precious object, not getting something   you really wanted (a back to front loss!), loss of an experience you had hoped for,   an unwelcome change where you lose something you love, fear of a potential   loss or missing something.

We can also feel sad when we empathise with others’ loss.

Explore triggers for sadness with your child.

Sadness is the opposite emotion of happiness but there are other emotions you are unlikely to feel when you’re sad.

 Happiness and sadness are obvious opposites.

When we feel sad, there can often be other emotions present alongside sadness.

Looking at further emotion vocabulary (as the video does) increases emotional   intelligence in itself.

Sadness can last a long time and it can last a short time.

 Many emotions last a short time after they have been triggered but because   sadness is often caused by loss, there are regular triggers each time there is   awareness of the loss or the loss is re-remembered.

Sadness does nearly always fade with time and knowing this can help us manage   it.

The symptoms of sadness.

  • a frown
  • a dull ache in your chest or tummy
  • a sinking feeling
  • strong sadness can be a physical pain in your chest or tummy
  • might not feel like doing much
  • hard to be interested in anything
  • you might cry
  • keep thinking about whatever it was that made you sad
  • might have difficulty concentrating
  • can affect how much you feel like eating
  • might want to sleep a lot
  • energy levels could be low
  • can be not very aware of what is going on around you
  • might find it hard to be interested in what’s going on for others

You could ask your child to consider which of these symptoms they think they   feel when they are sad.

Draw the outline of a body and add symptoms your child is aware of.

Coping strategies for sadness

  1. Accept sadness as normal
  2. Allow yourself to wallow
  3. Spend time with someone you love and trust
  4. Talk to others who have been through the same
  5. Take time out and escape from the feelings for a while to give yourself an emotional break
  6. Remember time heals

You could make a sadness coping strategies poster.

Possible benefits of sadness

  • makes us take time out
  • makes us slow down
  • lets others know we need help
  • gives us time to recharge
  • teaches us about life
  • can make us feel closer to those we love
  • can make us think deeply about things
  • can tell us that something needs to change or that we need to try new things
  • can help us empathise better with other’s sadness

When your child is sad, you could reflect upon this list and see which of these   benefits for the situation might be true.


Depression is when sadness lasts for weeks. This is when someone feels not only sad but starts to get no pleasure from life and does not feel like they want to do anything much.
Other activities:

  • Listen to sad music and consider what makes it sad.
  • Draw ‘sadness’ – think about which colours and images would best portray sadness.
  • Look at images that come up when you google sadness. Which picture do you think represents sadness most effectively?
  • Paint coping strategies onto pebbles and place them into a sadness box.
  • Reflect upon and share times of sadness from your own life with your child and discuss how you felt and how you coped. Also consider which other emotions were triggered.
  • Compose a gratitude book – with photos of your child’s happiest memories and lists of things they are grateful for and share it often as a reminder that even when sad things happen, there are still things to be grateful for and still happy memories that can be accessed.
  • Create a list of activities (like a menu) that you could try to do when you feel sad.
  • When something upsetting has happened, score sadness out of ten each hour or each day (depending on what triggered the sadness) to 1) acknowledge it and 2) show how it changes with time.
  • Look for pictures of sad people in magazines to show how under-represented sadness is in media!
  • Watch YouTube videos of stories about sadness aimed at children to deepen your child’s understanding of the emotion. Use these to discuss empathy. Watch two stories and compare how much you empathised with each character and why this might be so.