Is It OK to Be Sad Around Your Kids?

Filed under: Childcare, Social & Emotional Growth: Tweens

Is it okay to be sad around your kids? Credit: Corbis

With all the tornadoes and flooding in the news these days, it's no surprise that some of us are feeling pretty down in the dumps. But should we let our kids see our sadness? Or should we just tune out the news and pretend that everything is A-OK?

The fact is, it's completely fine to be less than cheery in front of your kiddos every now and then.

"If something happens that makes you sad, it's an honest emotion," says Jan Faull, author of "Amazing Minds: The Science of Nurturing Your Child's Developing Mind with Games, Activities and More." "But you also want your children to see you get over it, and you certainly don't want to burden them with your sadness."

As we all know, things happen in life that bum us out: a grandparent dies, neighbors move away, something you love gets broken.

"Letting them know there are reasons to be sad allows them to witness that emotion, and it helps them understand their own feelings of sadness," Faull says. "You can't put on a happy face on all the time." Doing so can actually be confusing to kids, she adds, because kids can read our body language -- and they know when we're sad. So instead of faking a smile, try the following:

Keep it brief. If your kids ask why you're sad, give a simple, short explanation, such as, "I'm sad because we don't get to go on vacation."

Let them know it's temporary. You can say, "I won't be sad forever, but I'm sad now."

Don't overshare. "The younger the child, the less you reveal," says Faull.

Let your kids know they're not the cause of your sadness. Kids are very ego-centric and might blame themselves.

Seek help. If your sadness turns to depression, see a doctor. If you're not sure, notice if your feelings are getting in the way of your relationship with your child or if her teacher or caregiver notices a change in her mood.


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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.