Loneliness / Depression is familiar to many children. It can be temporary, due to the move of a close friend or transfer to a new school. Some people are generally good at being alone, they do not consider themselves lonely, even if it seems so to adults.
How To Support Your Child When They Feel Lonely
When Your childrens are very lonely and feel unhappy for a long period. In this case, the child will need your help: you need to teach him how to manage his feelings and try to correct the situations that give rise to them.
We share the recommendations of psychologists from the book “Friendly” How to help your child with depression
Determine When A Child Feels Lonely.
Loneliness is not always easy to recognize, so you can only deal with it by talking to your child. Given the intensity of his emotions, it is important to find the right time and place to talk. The following methods will be helpful in the discussion.
- First, you need to do is to read the situations and places, etc, in which your child feels lonely. Ask him: “At what moments in school do you feel lonely?”, “During which lessons or classes do you feel loneliness especially acutely?”, “Are you lonely at any particular time of the day?”
- Determine if this feeling has arisen recently or has appeared a long time ago. So You have to that type of question: “Whenever you start feeling lonely”, “Did this happen after some incident at school?”
- You can explore together what loneliness is: “What does“ lonely ”or“ sad ”mean?”, “How do you feel being alone? What sensations do you experience? “
- Try to understand how a person usually feels when they have no connection with other people or they are not part of a group. The following questions will help you: “Is it easy for you to find someone at school to talk to?”, “Can you turn to a friend if necessary?”, “Yes Do you have a company of friends, do you have a friendly class? “,” When at school do you feel that you are left alone? “
Answering these questions will help you determine how lonely your child is and in what situations. Then support him by saying that you understand his feelings and why they arise.
The authors of the book recommend studying methods focused on:
Emotion (Techniques that help to cope with negative feelings);
A Problem (Active approaches to a situation that provokes a feeling of loneliness);
Decision (Finding out when and in what situations the child does not feel lonely).
If your child has difficulty talking about their condition, try referring to stories, poems, paintings, or music to reflect on other people’s experiences.
Using these methods, you can help your child cope with feelings of loneliness and find a source of positive emotions. For this, it is very useful to keep a diary of emotions, which will give the child the opportunity to track his feelings, understand how they change, get a visual idea of when the feeling of loneliness is strongest and when it is practically absent.
Based on this information, you can find ways to lengthen the periods of time when loneliness recedes. It is better to keep records in the form of a table on a piece of paper, in a special notebook, on your phone, or on a tablet.
Ask your child to rate how lonely they are at the times of the day on a scale of 0 to 10 (where 10 is very lonely). With younger children, you can use emoticons (sad, neutral, happy).
Discuss patterns that are emerging, such as when and where feelings of loneliness were most acute, and use them as a basis when looking for strategies to overcome loneliness and opportunities to change the situation.
Look for reasons for optimistic conclusions, focusing the child’s attention on when and why things worked out well. This will allow him to draw conclusions based on the analysis of positive experiences, which will help him in the future when he again experiences feelings of loneliness and defenselessness.
The method of positive self-talk is quite effective; an example can be shown by adult relatives (or teachers, educators). Consider the following statements:
“I am strong because my family is always ready to help me”;
“Everybody gets lonely sometimes”;
“I can make a difference by talking to my sister/playing with the dog”;
“Now I am alone, but not alone.”
Exercise is very effective in overcoming feelings of loneliness and depression. Go for a walk or swim with your child, or take part in local sports events. Physical activity increases the release of chemicals that improve mood and help deal with negative emotions.
Someone prefers to escape from painful feelings by watching a movie or taking up a new hobby, which at the same time will give an opportunity to learn something (and experience a sense of success), meet someone, and make new friends.
These are methods of actively coping with situations that generate feelings of loneliness. Children are usually able to determine for themselves what actions they should take to cope with this feeling, but nevertheless, they often need the help of adults.
For example, many children find that one way to counteract loneliness is to find contact with other children. Discuss this topic with your child. Your discussions may center around how to find support: by drawing on groups of friends you already have, looking for new relationships, or using dating at school.
The daughter wants you to talk to the teachers about it, ask the school staff to try to avoid situations where the child is feeling lonely.
To help the child cope with this feeling, the teacher can use the following techniques: organize group games during recess, give assignments for pair work with another child at lunchtime, do more pair or group activities in class.
When distributing children into groups, it is advisable to place your child with those who often play with him during recess.
When thinking about which methods are more effective emotion-based or problem-based it is important to consider what actions your child will prefer in this situation. He cannot quickly change the attitude of other children towards himself, so emotion-oriented methods are important here.
However, there are circumstances when it is better to solve a problem rather than avoid it.
If you asked an older child what to do to stop him from feeling lonely at school, he might answer, “Stop going there.” For him, in this case, this is the only way to avoid a traumatic situation.
In the short term, such a solution could probably be effective (the child will feel relieved), but it is unlikely to be beneficial in the future (for example, he will not receive an education).
Leaving school, which offers many opportunities for a child in life, is unlikely to help him get rid of problems in relationships with peers and feelings of loneliness. So that
You should talk to your teen to help him objectively evaluate the different strategies, but keep in mind that if he is very upset and is looking for quick relief, then it will be difficult to connect with him.
These methods are based on finding out what good has already happened in the child’s life. Help him recognize when loneliness recedes, such as when he feels happy, supported, or involved in a common activity.
Consider what social skills the child uses when things are going well and he is not suffering from loneliness.
Find out when this happens, who is supporting him, remember his strengths. Help him find ways to use these skills in situations where he feels lonely to find a solution.
A useful technique is to ask questions about the child’s current (how things are now) and desired (how he would like them to be), for example: “If you woke up tomorrow without feeling lonely, what would you do?”, “How would you feel? “,” What would others say about you (notice in you)? ”
Then, together, think about how to move from the current state of affairs to the desired one – step by step, calculating realistic actions for yourself and others.
For example, if your child said that he doesn’t feel lonely when playing with a friend, consider together issues related to friendship, finding common interests, and timing to play with friends (at home and at school).
A good way to study a child’s emotions is to use a simple numerical scale from zero to ten, where the state of absolute happiness equals ten and the feeling of unhappiness equals zero. Draw it with your child, and then discuss the different grades of the scale.
Ask questions such as “Who is next to you?”, “How do you feel?” Then repeat the same when assessing the ideal state, for example: “What mark on this scale is preferable for you?”, “How do you imagine this state?”, “What would you do then?”, “Who would be next to you? ”
Now find out that your child feels at the moment: “How are you feeling?”, “How do you think, at what point on the scale are you now?”, “Describe your condition / how do you feel?” Something for this he can do himself, but in some, he will need the help of parents and teachers.
To help your child cope with loneliness, it is important to talk to them so that they can explore the problem together. At the same time, the child should feel that he personally controls the process, and independently choose the appropriate one from the proposed options.