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What to Do When Kids Are Upset?

Here are three tips for parents to help kids prevail when they are troubled:


A child may need a chance to express pent-up feelings, and to reflect upon how to get over or around obstacles. Crying, stomping, venting, or even pillow-punching can be cathartic. Deep breathing, stretching, squeezing a stress ball, and closing eyes and visualizing calm, may also be beneficial. Family members can support one another. One approach is to spend time doing pleasant activities together—for example, playing games; exercising; having a unique photo, baking, or karaoke contest; or finding new opportunities to be kind to others.


Listen. Chat. Parents can reveal how they deal with disappointing situations, stay composed, regulate their own mash of emotions, and tap into joy. Coping mechanisms might include connecting with others, decelerating, or being resourceful. Parents can offer fresh and informed insights about how life may be unfolding, and talk about preparedness, and how to mitigate difficult circumstances. The best way forward involves respectful, empathetic dialogue—while still giving children enough space unto themselves.


A positive perspective can be enabling. Emphasize pleasures, point out upcoming fun-filled events (such as holidays or festivities), demonstrate a “growth mindset” (this involves overcoming challenge using effort and step-by-step strategies), or comment on a child’s specific strengths (perhaps their honesty, adaptability, or thoughtfulness). Go outside and enjoy nature. Consider how to help children nurture positivity!


Adapted from two of my previous articles, Finding the Joy published at The Creativity Post, and From Disappointment to Joy published in First Time Parent Magazine.

Dr. Joanne Foster

Dr. Joanne Foster, an acclaimed author and educator, has dedicated over 35 years to gifted education and child development. With expertise in psychology and special education, her work empowers parents and educators, fostering creativity and high-level learning in children and teens.

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