How can I tell if my child is lonely?

Loneliness is not a measure of how many friends someone has. Even very social children can experience feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Every child needs time on their own now and again – even those who are very social. Some people feel very happy this way. But sometimes a young person will feel some sadness about being alone. They might want to spend more time with others, or wish they were closer to others.

Two children sitting with each other

When a young person feels lonely, they may:

  • Avoid talking about friends.
  • Seem quiet or withdrawn, or be sad for no obvious reason.
  • Lose their appetite.
  • Mention they have no one to sit with at school.
  • Use social media a lot but don’t contact or spend much time with friends.

What causes loneliness?

Loneliness is sometimes linked to:

  • Feeling different from the people around you, like you don’t fit it or that no one gets you.
  • A big change, such as moving house or starting a new school.
  • Being away from friends and family.
  • Losing a loved one or ending a relationship.
  • Being bullied or abused.

Social media can be a powerful tool for feeling connected. At the same time, it can feel isolating to see friends doing things without you. Sometimes, posts can amplify ways we’re different from others.

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