The emotional rollercoaster is one that we ride for life. And sometimes it’s a lot less fun than the physical amusement park kind. But over time, we learn to navigate the ups and downs, the twists and turns, and even the loops. Our kids, however, are still new to this ride. So, as the all-knowing, holding-the-secrets-to-life parents, it’s our job to hold their hand and help them navigate it. But don’t you worry! We’ll be right there by your side to give you some handy tips and tricks that cover some of the more common emotions you might come across on this rollercoaster. On today’s ride, let’s talk about loneliness.
Loneliness is a common concern that can have both immediate and long-term consequences for young children, just like us. It's normal to feel lonely, isolated and disconnected from time to time, but these feelings can become unhealthy if they persist. Many young children begin to understand the concept of loneliness and report feelings of the same. Participating in careful child observation is a necessary first step in learning about children's loneliness. Dealing with it, however, is not something they can instantly do. And that’s where we come in. Here’s how you can hold their hand through this:
Acknowledge and understand their feelings
It is important to spend some time figuring out why they're feeling lonely (the reason could be as small as because they lost their cuddle teddy) before you make changes that will truly help them. Being alone and being lonely are not the same. There's nothing wrong with your child being alone if they're comfortable with it; however, if they believe being alone isn't something they choose, this needs to be addressed.
Encourage them to get social
Make them realize that they aren’t alone. Loneliness is a way for their minds to tell them that they need more social contact, just as our stomach signals us when it needs food.😉 To make new friends, they must go out and participate in various fun activities. Consider joining a sports league, taking a class, or engaging in some volunteering activities. Working to strengthen their bonds with the extended family may also help them feel less lonely.
Indulge in some activities and keep them busy
Indulge in some activities that will help to distract them from the feelings of loneliness. Understand if they have a hobby they've always wanted to try (whether it be making a painting or learning how to dance) or a home improvement project on their to-do list that they've been putting off and encourage them to take those up.
There is no such thing as a set timeline for getting over loneliness. Learning to process emotions rather than ignoring them is the key to getting over them with true strength and resilience. Allowing your child to feel lonely and then participating in activities that can help them come past it is the key. However, loneliness can be overwhelming at times, and in those cases, seeking professional assistance is the best option. Don't be too harsh on yourself if you can't help them overcome their feelings on your own. You’ll always be there for them no matter what and believe that you are doing the best you can do for them.