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January 2021

Helping Kids Understand Feelings

COVID-19 has put unique stress on the ways children and families are able to experience emotions. With having to adapt to learning from home, missing friends, and having to avoid in person social activities. it is still important to help children continue to understand and process their emotions. 


  • Encourage imaginative play
  • Create flash cards with random words and have children tell a made up story using the word
  • Read books together. While reading ask the child to describe emotions characters may be feeling during the story
  • Practice breathing exercises and mindfulness activities

Apps (free):

  • Mindful Powers
  • Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame Street
  • Smiling Mind
  • Headspace for kids
  • Calm
  • Stop, Breath and Think Kids
  • GoNoodle


Playing games helps children with self-control and problem solving. Almost any games- board games, card games, or playground games- teach children how to follow rules, take turns, wait patiently and deal with loosing. Plus, they are fun for everyone!

A helpful reminder:

Big emotions are hard for anyone to manage and sometimes they can get the best of us. When this happens to your child, try to help them understand what they are feeling and allow them space to calm down. 


Signs of Depression in Children & How to help

Depression comes in a variety of forms and affects people of all ages. When it comes to depression in children, there are a number of signs that can be very telling of whether or not your child is struggling with depression. While it is normal for kids to feel sad or down from time to time, if the negative feelings last for more than a couple weeks or impair your child’s ability to function from day-to-day, it may be depression and time to for additional help. Fortunately, there are many resources that can help alleviate the heaviness associated with untreated depression and can even reverse the effects. Read on to learn more about the signs of depression in children and what steps you can take to help. 

Socially withdrawn

One of the most common and easy-to-spot signs of depression is social withdrawal — this is especially true if your child is typically social by nature. When children are suffering from depression or anxiety disorder, they will commonly pull back from their friends and peers and turn inwards. 

In this case, you can find out if and how much your child is socially withdrawn by asking them about school and who they have been spending time with. Another way to go about this without directly talking to your child is by getting in touch with your child’s teachers and coaches and asking if they have noticed any differences in your child’s social patterns recently.

Social withdrawal during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might look slightly different. Some signs may include lack of participation in online classes, not engaging with friends in usual online games, or avoiding phone calls and texts from friends.

Lacking interest in favorite activities

If your child seems to be no longer intrigued by activities that they usually show a lot of interest in, this may be a sign to take a closer look at how they are doing mentally and emotionally. While it is common for children to change interests as they age, drastic withdrawal from activities that typically bring them joy is a sign that they might be struggling internally.

Low self-esteem

Low self-esteem can present itself in a number of ways, from talking down on oneself to avoiding new experiences and opportunities altogether. When we don’t feel good enough, it typically comes from a place of feeling unworthy, unloved, and unwanted. That said, when low self-esteem is displayed or made known, especially within children, it is worth looking into. 

At times low self-esteem can simply be reflective of a bad day, however, when it becomes a pattern or a common occurrence, this can be a sign that your child may be struggling with depressive symptoms.

Unusual crying spells and sensitivity

Another sign of untreated depression in children is unusual crying spells and sensitivity. While this may seem like a clear and straightforward sign, it is oftentimes overlooked, which may lead to an outburst of other depressive symptoms to follow.

While crying is a healthy and shared experience across people of all ages, when it becomes uncontrollable it is something to look further into. Alongside crying spells, keep an eye out for triggers to sensitivity. Any heightened emotional responses (anger, irritability, sadness…) can be a sign of depression in children as well.


One of the most evident cries for help when it comes to children who are struggling with depression is self-harm.  Self Harm can include cutting, scratching, biting, headbanging and more. No matter what type of self-harm is present, it is important to get your child the help that they need and deserve right away.

How to help

It is important to note that depression symptoms can vary from child to child. Trust your intuition; you know your child best.  If something feels off and any of the symptoms listed above last longer than 2 weeks, your child may be suffering from depression. Here is a list of how to support a child who is struggling with depression:

Dig deeper into understanding

First, consider whether there have been any significant changes in your child’s life that may be impacting their mental and emotional state. For example, conflicts at home, transitioning schools, bullying, and medical problems are all common factors that play into a child’s mental and emotional state.

In addition to trying to understand the context on your own, sit down with your child and ask them how they have been feeling lately or if there is anything that they want to talk about. Simply let them know that you are there to listen and support them when they are ready to share their feelings. 

Consider therapy

Lastly, and arguably most effective when it comes to children with depression, seeking clinical treatment is a great option. Therapy is a safe space for your child to work through their emotions in an easy-to-understand manner. They also help by explaining anxiety to kids and show what the next steps are for the family.

When it comes to finding the right mental health services and therapist for your child, Children's Bureau provides an extensive variety of services and programs for children ages 0-21. At Children’s Bureau, all children are provided a safe place to explore their thoughts and feelings free from judgment and are provided the necessary tools to begin the healing process.

To help your child overcome depression, it is important to be alert and ready to help with change.  Foster a healthy and supportive relationship with your child… ask questions, talk, listen, and love.

Your child doesn’t need to struggle anymore and neither do you

Left untreated depression can persist or get worse, but with the right care and support, depression can be helped.  Now that you know the signs of depression and how best to support your child, you can start taking steps towards mental health treatment and supporting your kiddo the best way possible.


  1. https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children#1
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/are-low-self-esteem-and-depression-the-same-thing-1066623

Stressors can Increase Risks

Unfortunately, we are in the midst of financial difficulties, as a nation. The recent news reports are inflamed with fears of further losses for both companies and individuals. There are people that have lost everything that they have invested. For some, they have had no other options but to deplete their savings. You might be asking what this has to do with child abuse. The truth is, stressors, especially financial stressors, can increase risks of children being abused. While what we are experiencing as a nation cannot be used as an excuse to abuse a child, it is a sad reality.

There are no boundaries when it comes to abuse. Abuse does not just affect low-income families or poor families. All incomes, genders, races, religions etc. are affected by abuse. Financial stressors can create unwanted havoc in the home. When a parent loses a job or is laid off from work, they face very difficult times ahead - financially. This can also lead to mental health issues. A parent that has been able to provide for their family and suddenly finds themselves in dire straights with their finances can go through depression. This depression can change their way of thinking and coping. It is at this time that child abuse can come into play. Does this condone the parents abuse towards their child? No! Not in any way! However, please know that this is a reality within our country. The parent that is tremendously stressed out might lash out at their children, physically, mentally, or emotionally.

There may also be issues of neglect. There is something completely necessary to point out. There are families that are low-income, which cannot provide the very best in material possessions for their children. They may be on a very tight budget and have very little to spend when it comes to purchasing needed clothing and shoes. However, just because the family is low-income, and doesn’t have many financial resources, that doesn’t mean the parents are abusive towards their children, or neglectful, for that matter. There are several parents that can't afford the best in clothes, shoes, bags etc. However, they find a way to work around their circumstances. They went to thrift stores and purchased clothing. They looked for incredible sales on shoes. Point being, they found a way to provide for their children. Neglect happens when a parent shows no concern for their children’s needs whatsoever. Parents that neglect their children in this way are not using what financial means that they have to provide clothing for their children. Their children often wear clothes that are too small and soiled, they may wear shoes that do not fit properly and do not get enough to eat. This is neglect. Every child deserves to have their needs met.

Hopefully those reading this will become aware to the situations of the children in their lives. Financial stressors can indeed increase risks of child abuse. Be watchful over the children that you have in your life, whether they be a friend’s child, a church member’s child, a child of a friend of a friend. Look for the warning signs of child abuse. Be active in the lives of the children you are around. If you go to a store and witness abuse happening, call it in. Don’t be afraid to make that call. We are in stressful times right now, economically. They are times that are filled with great fears and uncertainties. We can help the children. We can be aware of the warning signs and do what is necessary to help the children.