Negative Emotions In Children – Are They Really Negative?

Why is it important to learn to be sad?

Sadness is very important for our lives. It allows us to deal with losses, concessions and separations. It plays an important role in our adaptation to a changing reality. In dealing with the loss of what was, and what could have been. Many are afraid of sadness because it is sometimes confused with depression. We actually know today that depression often develops due to an attempt to avoid dealing with unpleasant emotions. Being sad does not make us weak, it just means we are human.

We can not truly rejoice if we do not make room for sadness inside us.

People who block emotions are usually unaware of it. They continue to function, to conduct themselves according to the demands of society, but something within them feels a little dead. Sadness is often associated with loneliness and fear of loneliness. The experience of loneliness can be very difficult.

The price for our inability to process our emotions is costly: avoiding mental pain can block mental growth and the ability to realize ourselves. Lack of connection to emotions can affect our ability to make decisions, to know what is right for us. The inability to process emotions can affect intimate relationships and the ability to communicate with another person about what we are feeling. We can experience heavy distress due to seemingly minor events because we do not allow ourselves to be sad about the truly meaningful things.



The ability to open ourselves to sadness prepares the ground for deepening our connections with significant others in our lives. Without it we would not be able to seek the support we need, even in our adult lives. Without it we could not be authentic in our support of others.

For many generations we have been educated to hide feelings of sadness. The modern world puts tremendous pressure on us being happy. We are taught from a young age that we should always strive to be happy. If feelings of sadness, anger, jealousy, hatred, and so on, arise in us, we must quickly get over those and hurry up and be happy once again. What I believe actually happens is that we do not allow our ‘negative’ emotions to be. The minute the tip of the iceberg has melted we bury the rest.

I believe that it is us forcing ourselves to ‘get over it’, when really we are not finished dealing with a difficult situation in our lives, that causes a great deal of our pain. If we were brought up to allow all emotions to simply be, we would not feel bad when those arise in us. We would not consider some emotions as negative.


What happens to us when our child is sad?

Negative emotions in children – Is there really anything like that?

When our child is sad, everything we have learned in the past about sadness rises and floats in us. Since this is our child, it rises and floats with a particularly strong force, for we are the lions responsible for protecting this small and precious thing.

Knowingly or not, all we really want is make that so called negative emotion go away, and to get him or her happy again as soon as possible.


What do our children need from us?

Sometimes it will be us that create the difficulty in the form of a boundary. That is harder because we have an option here. It is so much easier on the heart and on facing your child to just give in and let them have whatever they want. Easier in the short term. But is that the best we can do for them as parents?

If we thought about a certain matter and made a mature and loving decision – That he is not getting any more candy because he has eaten enough, that she is now entering the kindergarten even though it’s new to her, that we are going home now even though he has a lot of fun with his friends, etc. If the decision means my child will be sad or angry for a little while now because of it, could I, as his parent, endure it? Could I be strong (it’s not easy) and go through knowing it will benefit him later on? Could I be firm and at the same time supportive?

When we are unable to contain the sadness and anger that our child expresses, we stop being the responsible adult and give the reins to our child.


When I’m sad – by Shlomit Cohen-Asif

I said to my mother, “I’m sad”

“Water the flower pots,” Mother said.

I watered

And it did not help

The sadness did not go away.


I said to my father, “I’m sad”

“Then sing songs,” father said.

I sang

And it did not help

The sadness did not go away.


I said to my grandfather, “I’m sad”

He patted my neck,

“Tell me what happened” he said and the sadness passed.



Sometimes our child will face difficulty that will be beyond our control to fix. Then the only thing left for us to do will be to simply be there with him. It sounds easy, but just being, without doing something, is not easy at all.

We can’t solve everything for them and we most certainly shouldn’t teach them to take a deep breath and put on a happy face. The best thing we can give them is our support. Just being by their side. Not fixing anything. Remembering it is important for them to let those feelings simply be.

As painful as it may be for us to watch them go through difficult events, they need to develop the ability to deal with life. By allowing them to be sad and angry by our side, we can give them the most loving support, which will definitely help them learn those life lessons the best way possible. That, in my eyes, is true parenting.


Can we always succeed? Of course not.



Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts on the matter  I’d love to hear them.

Keep well, Nirit

6 thoughts on “Negative Emotions In Children – Are They Really Negative?”

  1. I agree that repressing emotions (either positive or negative) can have ill-effects on the development of a child. I think teaching children that it is ok to feel this way, and teaching them to learn a lesson and move on from any pain or hardship is crucial to helping them live a happy, healthy, and emotionally secure life. Great post, lots of great information!

    • I believe if you teach them it’s ok to feel any feeling, they will spend whatever time needed feeling however they feel and then it will simply go away by itself. We all love feeling happy and loving and excited. That’s our nature. We just have to not fear when other feelings come. We need to realize they come for a reason. I believe it is always for our greater good.

  2. Great article you have here and thank you for sharing such an informative article. Many are times that we have to embrace the sad reality in order for us to move forward and achieve greater goals. My question is, won’t it have long term effects towards some children, cause some adult can barely revive from sad emotions?

    • Your question is very important. It is probably the root to one of the main fears that causes us adults to try and hide our own sadness from our children. The thing is this – I don’t think we can hide it. Children are so sensitive. They feel us better than we feel ourselves. If we come to a place where we cannot overcome a difficult situation that has a severe effect on us, then we should seek professional help. I don’t think trying to hide it is either going to work or to be helpful in any way.

  3. There is beauty in being vulnerable. Sadness shows we are still human, that we hurt. that we care.

    We cant always be happy every time. It is nature. Being sad makes us value our happy moments, it spurs us to be better and more happy.

    Most times when we are sad, we tend to be more sober and concentrated. Like the writer said, sadness is not depression.

    • Thank you so much for your comment. You are so right. Sadness brings out different things in us. Important thing. It’s so natural to be sad sometimes. So relieving. 


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