When Sadness Affects Kids’ Self Worth

Kids who are wired to experience strong reactions to life, to feel things deeply, and to think about life deeply seem to experience sadness more intensely and more frequently than other children. These same kids are often creative, bright, and socially and emotionally sensitive.

Raise your hand if you were one of these kids or if you’re teaching, counseling, or raising one of these kids. 🙋🏻‍♀️ I was and I am.

As a child, when I experienced something sad, my go-to response was to internalize the problem and overthink things. Some kids externalize and make things someone else’s fault and others internalize looking within themselves for the reason why something happened to them.

And what’s a natural conclusion for a deep thinking child who internalizes to come to when they try to make sense of their world and can’t figure out why “bad” things are happening?

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The Hidden Danger of Teaching Coping Skills to Kids

She came into my office, a brave 9 year old, and with a quiet defeated voice shared with me that even though she used her coping skills, sometimes she still worried about bad guys.

My answer to her:


I still worry about bad guys sometimes too especially if I hear a strange noise at night. It’s normal.

You’re human and I’m human. Having all our emotions including fear and worry is part of being a person. It’s okay to still worry about bad guys.

The goal isn’t for you to never worry again. I know you might want that since worry can feel very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.

But the real goal is for you to know what to do when you feel worried so it doesn’t stop you from doing fun things, things you want to do, like going to sleepovers, or feeling safe on field trips, or sleeping in your own bed.

Does that make sense?

Relief spread across her face as she nodded and smiled.


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How to Respond to Children’s Challenging Behavior

During challenging moments, how do you choose when to empathize & connect, to set boundaries, or to teach a skill/lesson to the child?

I asked this question in our membership community, the Emotion Guide Collective, and we had a great discussion around what informs our decisions in the moment.

When children are struggling, it can be difficult to figure out how best to respond.

Our minds start whirling through our mental toolbox.

If your inner talk is anything like mine, it may sound something like this: “This strategy? No, this one. Well, that bombed. How about this one? What should I do? Nothing’s working! Aaargh!”

Having a framework of how to decide which strategy to choose in different situations keeps me from flailing about trying all the strategies hoping one sticks like spaghetti on a wall and the problem subsides.

Here are the three questions I ask myself that make up my decision making framework:

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