Or is she worried about making friends? It is heartbreaking to think that your child maybe feeling lonely. The effect of loneliness on your child’s life can be more than just depression or anxiety. A child who feels lonely may not be confident and may feel rejected, this can affect her self-esteem. Loneliness can also affect your child’s attempts to take risks. The lonelier she feels, the less she will have the courage to try to fit in
As the end of the school year approaches, children can get a bit anxious. Your child may feel afraid of being lonely in a new school or class. She may feel like she is losing her everyday school friends. She may also be afraid of rejection in an unfamiliar environment. So, it is important that parents address their child’s lonely or “worry feelings” and be proactive in helping.
Here are some Advice/Tips for Home
- Describe your own experiences
- Phrases that help
- Build self-confidence
- Shyness result in loneliness
- Quality time
1. Describe your own experiences
During dinner time at the table, you can describe to your children how you and some of your closest friends met. You can also describe how you and your partner met. These stories can emphasize different ways of making friends. Sometimes it only takes a smile and a hello to begin a relationship.
2. Phrases that help
Here are some phrases that you can teach your child to use when they want to join in and play with others:
(From book: “Join in and Play” Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed.)
Ask “May I play with you?”
Ask “What are you doing?”
Ask “Can I have a turn?”
Say “That looks like fun”
Ask ” Can I use that when you are done?
Ask ” Do you want a turn?”
Ask “Would you like to play with this now?”
Ask “What do you want to play?
Say “You can go first.”
Ask ” Do you want to play with me?”
Parents can talk about times they have felt lonely or have had “worry feelings”.
Talk about how you feel whenever you’re lonely. Children can often forget that their parents also have negative emotions. This will validate their emotions and present an opportunity to talk about the way you cope with loneliness.
4. Build self-confidence.
You can help your children recognize their own abilities and capabilities. Praising and acknowledging your child’s specific efforts (“I loved the way you…”) and contributions help to build self-confidence. Motivate your children to continue to pursue a hobby, or enjoyable activity, etc. Focus on appreciating his or her efforts and highlighting what he or she could do next time, instead of placing blame on your children if they fail.
5. Shyness can often result in loneliness
In many instances, children want to make new friends, but often feel too shy. Consider scheduling more play dates with children that your child wants to be friend and this will help your child slowly open up and develop close relationships.
6. Quality time
Most important, always make sure to set aside quality “special time” with your child. Try to stay away from the use of electronic devices during this time. That sometimes make children feel as though they are competing with your phones or iPads for your attention. This takes a toll on self-esteem.
Do fun things with your child, to help her feel less lonely. Sit down and play a game, do some drawing, or read a book with him.
Addressing loneliness and anxiety can help your child to develop high self-esteem. It can also encourage her to take risks and try to fit in. Keep in mind that your child may be shy, and that is ok. Let your child take her time. Don’t force her. Help her build confidence. Be her cheerleader and practice, practice, practice!
Written by: Marilee Hartling & Paula Boscardin