My 7yr old is doing this thing where he starts to say things like, "everyone hates me, no one loves me, my family doesn't love me, etc..." when things aren't going his way or when he gets some discipline, etc... and he's very sad about it and he seems pretty sincere about his not feeling loved... but we are a very affectionate and loving family. Not sure what to do
It is normal and common for children to get upset when things do not go their way. How to deal with these setbacks are part of growing up and an important thing that parents must teach. When we feel sorry for or give in or reward children for "just participating" then we are doing them a great disservice. In order to raise healthy children they must be taught how to be resilient. Resilient children believe they can cope with challenges and view mistakes and weaknesses as opportunities to learn. They accept that losing may precede winning. They know they will make mistakes and will have to be disciplined but they can see the separation between the mistake and their self value.
Parents must teach children how to be resilient, how to believe in themselves as a person of value even when things are hard for them and that things will not always go their way. Their situation does not create their value.
There is a wonderful article by Lyle J. Burrup, a family counselor, titled "Raising Resilient Children" that will answer the "how" to do this in great detail. The article is found in the March 2013 Ensign. It is an amazing article. After you read it, if you have other questions please post them and we will address them. Thank you so much for asking, This is an important question.