How to navigate children through feelings of sadness; a guide for carers


Humans experience a wide range of emotions and sometimes we are faced with feelings of sadness. Young children, too, often experience feelings of sadness and as they aren’t born with the ability to understand or verbally express their emotions, they may not know how to express themselves very well. When this happens, we end up with children having tantrums or refusing to talk or communicate at all. As their carer, you can help them through these emotions by following a few key strategies.

1] Label the emotions. Children may not know how to express their emotions if they don’t know what to call them. The simple act of labelling their emotions, by saying something like “It looks like you are feeling sad”, will help them gain a sense of control over the emotion. It also shows your child that you love them no matter what feelings they experience and that he doesn’t have to be happy to have your love and affection.

2] Reassure them that sadness is normal. Children experiencing sadness may think they are the only ones feeling that way and can become anxious about it. The more you explain that everyone feels sad sometimes, and that it is a common feeling, the less isolated and alone they will feel. You can reassure them by sharing your own experiences of sadness and how you coped with it.

3] Help children calm themselves. One way to do this is by helping them slow down their breathing or writing a list of reasons why they can cope and why things are not terrible. We may be tempted as parents and carers to give advice or suggestions to children, however, then they may rely on others giving them this advice and not being able to find solutions on their own. Instead, ask them questions that provoke them into thinking. “What do you think might help?” or “What might make this better?” “Do you think this or this will be better?”

The Wishing Well foundation

The Wishing Well was established in 2010 to offer children in out-of-home care, such as foster care and residential care, a range of healing and treatment options usually not accessible as a free therapy in mainstream health.

The Wishing Well raises funds to enable children and young people to access developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments shown to be highly effective in dealing with severe trauma and neglect. These therapies respond to the unique needs of each child and young person.

The Wishing Well is a not-for-profit incorporated charity organisation, established and managed by people seeking to improve outcomes for children and young people in out-of-home care and their families. The Wishing Well recognises the importance of the act of giving. We recognise the significance of the participation of community members and all donations are most appreciated.

The Wishing Well operates ethically, effectively and empathically with a view to achieving quality outcomes and a satisfying working environment.

Support the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well uses its funds to help children in need access all manners of developmentally-appropriate and trauma-informed treatments. The Wishing Well takes referrals for any child/young person in out-of-home care in NSW.  Applications are assessed by qualified personnel and on a case-by-case basis.  The decision to fund an application is affected by the following:

  • Funding availability
  • The support the child/young person has to access the proposed therapies
  • The capacity and willingness of the Carer Household to support the child/young person
  • Assessment, which recommends and supports the proposed therapy as relevant to meeting the particular needs of the child/young person

The Wishing Well gratefully receives donations, funding and resources through bequests, corporate partnerships, fundraising events, grants, online donations and other fund raising activities. Money donated to The Wishing Well enables traumatised children access to healing therapies. Please see our website for more information:



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