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Should this concern me?

My 4 year old is beginning to feel "sad" about things one probably wouldn't normally be sad about. For example, we went shopping the other night and while we were parking he noticed a cart that someone left in a space instead of pushing into the corral. He said "Mom, look at that cart. Its so lonely, that's very sad." I tried to brush it off and say someone will get it soon and he'll be back with his other cart friends but he told me he was sad because it was sad and alone. Today he told me he was sad to eat his carrots because they cry when he hurts them with his teeth.

He is doing this increasingly more often. He usually isnt sad for long and will often tell me minutes later that he is happy again and very rarely are there tears involved but I don't know what to think about this behavior. Depression runs in my family, so that has me concerned. Should I be worried?

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Asked by maecntpntz219 at 7:02 AM on Mar. 3, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 32 (52,578 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Most of the time kids learn behavior. Not saying he could not feel sad. But do people say they are sad around him.

    He sounds to me like he has a good imagination.

    When he started saying how the cart was lonely.  Why didn't you tell him carts do not get lonely. They are inanimate  object.  that is what I would have done. In 4 year old terms of course.


    Answer by louise2 at 7:16 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • Because in all honesty I'm the same way, though I don't say it out loud. I've always felt "bad" for inanimate objects lol. I know that's weird. I guess it could be a learned behavior but because I don't let emotions like that affect me nor do I express them Im not sure how he'd pick it up.

    Comment by maecntpntz219 (original poster) at 7:24 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • The language itself sounds fanciful & imaginative to me. Not really sad. I wouldn't (myself) feel worried that this kind of quiet, thoughtful reflecting/noticing and whimsical expressiveness could relate to depression.

    I also could imagine that he sounds, seems & feels a bit pensive at these times (so, maybe actually seeming sad) but I don't think that would be concerning to me, either. He's thoughtfully observing his world, and also openly sharing his inner world (with you.) That's connection, not isolated depression!

    It sounds to me like he is attaching feelings or reactions (almost like value judgments) to scenarios or situations. The scenarios happen to be fanciful because the "subjects" doing the experiencing are objects, but his "work" is real. And this set-up also keeps the experience very safe for him, I'd imagine. He can "play" around with sad situations, and even empathize, without there being much threat. Classic.

    Answer by girlwithC at 7:52 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • Always point out something positive too........appears that you are doing that. And you might want to run it by his pediatrician

    Answer by silverthreads at 8:18 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • sounds normal to me...

    try to point out something good when it happens

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 9:46 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • little one shows empathy - that is great!

    if it continues, or greats worse, ask ped, some young ones get anxiety early

    Answer by fiatpax at 10:47 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • I would just say that someone just left the there, point out where the corral is, maybe even have the cart moved or taken with us shopping. I would stop using emotions expressing wordswhen relating to inaminate objects. Why not to focus on words relating to actions rather than feelings. When we do not dwell on the topic, we usually just do things. I would just say more often "nothing to be sad about", carrots do not feel, we eat them for us to feel happier when the tummy is full. Is he having enough fats is his diet? Nuts and seeds?

    Answer by kujus04 at 10:59 AM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • It doesn't really sound like his "sadness" is really anything to worry about. I think he is trying to see what the appropriate emotion would be in certain situations and using inanimate objects to do it. And, since he seems to get over his "sadness" fairly easily, I don't think it's depression. Now, if he refused to eat the carrots or refused to go in the store till the cart was back with it's "friends" I would worry, but what he is doing seems to be ok.

    Answer by spiritguide_23 at 12:14 PM on Mar. 3, 2013

  • Sounds normal. My 3 year old would say the same thing, except she doesn't get sad for her food.

    If you want to be helpful you can always say "Let's put that cart with his friends so he will be happy" and move it. That's what I would do. But I am a sucker.

    Answer by staciandababy at 12:24 PM on Mar. 3, 2013

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