Dealing with challenging behavior – Part 3

Children learning to deal with disappointment and grief is a part of life.

Young children often show their feelings of sadness through irritability, anger and aggression.

Young children often show their feelings of sadness through irritability, anger and aggression.

Children experience sadness just like adults. Children slow down and withdraw as they learn to cope with disappointment or grief. Young children often show their feelings of sadness through irritability, anger and aggression. Children can turn their sadness inward and have difficulties eating and sleeping. As a parent or caregiver you can encourage your child to talk about their feelings, but try not to fix everything for your child. Disappointment and grief are part of life and children need to learn to deal with it eventually. Being comforting and sympathetic with hugs and reassurance is important in helping your child cope and learn to deal with these feelings.

Michigan State Univeresity Extension says that sadness is not the same as depression. Depression is an illness that affects mood and is more severe and long lasting than sadness. A child with depression sees the world as joyless and gloomy. He thinks of himself as “no good.” A child who is suffering from depression may appear to have experienced a change in his personality, because it affects so many aspects of his life. It can interfere with sleep, relationships, eating habits, activity level and play and behavior. Just like when a child is sad, a child who is depressed will seem angry and possibly irritable.

Children show aggression, sadness, defiance and other challenging behavior at times. Be patient and empathetic when dealing with your child so they can learn to express their emotions in a healthy way. If these behaviors become so frequent and intense that you find yourself overwhelmed most of the time, talk to your health care provider.

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