How can I help if my child feels lonely?

We all experience loneliness in different ways. For some young people, it’s a feeling that others don’t understand them, or that they don’t fit in. For others, it’s a sadness about not having close friendships.

Loneliness isn’t a measure of how many friends someone has. Even young people who have lots of friends can experience loneliness and isolation.

Talk to your child

It’s natural for your child to experience loneliness or sad emotions. You might notice they become withdrawn or clingy, or that their behaviour gets more challenging.

Talk to your child about positive relationships. Keep it light – show an interest in their friends or peers, and ask how they feel about them.

  • Let them know it’s OK to be alone sometimes. We all feel lonely from time to time: it doesn’t make them a failure.
  • Acknowledge their feelings if your child says they’re lonely. Phrases like “I can see why that would be painful” help them feel heard.
  • As long as it doesn’t carry any risk, try not to be dismissive or critical if your child wants to fit in with their peers

    Be there when they need you

    Spending time with your child is can help them feel loved and accepted.

    • Make sure they know you’re available if they want to talk. Keep telling and showing how much you love them.
    • Encourage them to share their feelings by talking, drawing or creating a journal.
    • Understand how to spot the signs of loneliness.
    • If they feel they don’t have enough friends, help them work on building connections.
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    This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

    More on talking about feelings

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