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10 Ways to Tell if a Kid is Lonely

January 7, 2012

Parents of an only child worry about him or her becoming lonely, but even kids in large families can suffer from loneliness. Being lonely really doesn’t have to result from being alone. Some kids are perfectly content to spend time on their own and don’t seem to need as much social interaction as others. On the other hand, some children can feel isolated even when surrounded by a large family or other peers. How do you tell if a kid is lonely or just likes to be alone?

  1. Talks a lot – One of the first signs of a lonely child is that he/she talks a lot. Kids who feel a need for social interaction will talk incessantly. Unfortunately, this constant blathering can really be bothersome to other people and cause further avoidance. This only makes things worse for the lonely kid.
  2. Seeks attention – Another big clue a child feels lonesome is when he/she is constantly seeking attention. This can manifest itself in either positive or destructive ways. Attention seekers can either misbehave or engage in goofy shenanigans. Many of the best comedians started out as class clowns who were just lonely kids looking for attention.
  3. Make-believe friends – Does your child have make-believe friends he/she interacts with on a regular basis? This could either be a sign that he/she has an overactive imagination or is really lonely.
  4. Pesky – Lonesome kids can really be pesky at times. They will pummel you with constant interruptions at the worst times. The problem is that they resent the attention you give to your work, other people or even household tasks and try to divert it to them.
  5. Reclusive – Although some lonely children will do whatever they can to get attention, others will do the opposite and become reclusive. This sign is a little harder to read because some kids just prefer to be alone while other really crave company but don’t know how to achieve it.
  6. Lacks social skills – Most lonely children really lack the social skills they need to get along with others. This is like a catch 22 since this lack of skills just compounds the problem. Does the kid lack these skills because they’re lonely or are they lonely because they don’t know how to get along with their peers?
  7. Low self esteem – Kids who are lonely really have low self esteem. They’re constantly seeking the approval of others to determine their own self worth and are subsequently disappointed. These children need to learn that they do deserve friendship but are not responsible for the poor behavior of others.
  8. Behavior problems – Lonely kids can develop behavior problems such as being timid, anxious or unsure of themselves. This can only reinforce the problem if peers reject or victimize them because of it.
  9. Sad – Lonesome children can become very sad and unhappy. They can start sobbing for no apparent reason and will reject any consoling. This can be heartbreaking for parents who often have no clue as to the underlying problem.
  10. Says so – The most definitive sign your kid is lonely is when he/she says so. They might not come right out and say “I’m lonely”, but may say things like “Nobody likes me”, or “I don’t have any friends.” These kids are really seeking help and their pleas shouldn’t be ignored.

Parents of a lonely child really have a challenge to help their child overcome this problem. It takes some extra added attention and time out of their busy schedules. They also risk being accused of playing favorites when there are other siblings in the family. Parents can’t force other children to like their lonely child, but can help him or her with their social skills and self esteem. With love and understanding parents can encourage their kids to overcome their loneliness. When children learn to love themselves they find that others will follow suit.


5 Responses to 10 Ways to Tell if a Kid is Lonely

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Elizabeth B. says:

It’s heartbreaking to see kids who are lonely. My little brother (who is now in his early 20s) was and still is one of those people who is lonely. I can’t count the number of times he’s made offhanded comments about not having any friends, and it rips me apart. He’s such a good kid, too – we can’t figure out why people don’t seem to want to be friends with him. As a result, he’s pulled into himself, has low self esteem and is reclusive.

Danette says:

In Las Vegas, NV we have seen too many tragic endings to the lonely child’s life. Seek professional help if signs of suicide or bullying are present. Allow your nanny to help you keep your young one safe.

Rachelle C. says:

As someone who has struggled with loneliness my whole life, I can tell you that it’s not an easy battle to take on. I’ve tried everything – joining groups, putting myself out there, speed dating – you name it and I’ve probably done it, and still people don’t seem to want to be friends with me, at least not past a superficial friendship. I don’t really know why or what I’m doing wrong, and I can only assume that there’s something wrong with me as a result. I know people will say that’s not true but really waht other explanation is there?

Linda says:

Watching your child struggle with loneliness is one of the worst things a parent can experience because you want to help so badly, but there’s not always a lot you can do. My son had a lot of behavioral problems growing up that we now see can be attributed to his loneliness. We just want the best for him, but we’re not sure how to help – any suggestions?

Sue says:

What can you do to help lonely kids though? You can’t force others to be friends with them and you can’t force them to be social, especially when they’ve tried and it’s backfired before.