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Family Activities
Children’s Changing Feelings

Children cope with sadness better if they can express their feelings in a trusting, warm atmosphere. Your children will handle the stress of sad situations more easily if you allow them to:

  • Explore and discuss their feelings.
  • Understand that all feelings are normal and that feelings will change as time passes and with new experiences.
  • Find ways to help them feel better.

One way to help children cope with sadness is to help them think of positive activities that can prevent their dwelling on a loss or sad event. This does not mean that they will forget the sad event or that memories of the sad event will not come back. But it gives them permission to move away from the sadness by doing activities that make them feel better.

How To Begin

Talk about feelings with your children:

  • How do you look when you feel happy? Show me how you look when you feel sad. Make an angry face with me. Here’s my scared face; show me yours.
  • What makes you happy? Sad? Angry? Scared?
  • Let’s play a game to help you feel better if you’re sad, angry, or scared.

What You Need

  • One large red construction paper square
  • One large white construction paper square
  • Safety scissors
  • Glue
  • Ruler
  • Markers

What To Do

First, work with your children to:

  • Cut out an eight-sided “stop sign” from both the red and white sheets of construction paper. (Note: This is easy if you place the two sheets together, fold them in half, and cut off a triangle from each open corner. Unfold, and you have two octagons.)
  • Glue the two octagons together, back to back.
  • Use the markers to write “STOP” in the middle of the red octagon. Then, use the ruler and markers to divide the white side of the octagon into four or eight equal parts.

Next, ask your children to talk about the things that make them feel better when they are sad. Examples might include reading with someone, swinging at the playground, going for a ride with the family, playing with the dog, having a picnic, and painting pictures.

Help your children select four or more of these favorite activities and draw pictures of them in each section of the white side of the octagon. Work together to label each section with happy memories or statements of why each activity is fun.

What To Say

Ask your children to use the stop sign whenever they are feeling sad. It’s a reminder of the different things to do, alone or with the family, to feel better.

Adapted from: Masters of Disaster®: In the Aftermath, Grades K–2, Life, Loss, and Grief: Feelings and Reactions. The American Red Cross, 2006.

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Updated on 4/5/2013