We all want our kids to socialize and be more confident and engaged in activities; unfortunately, not everyone is naturally social. While all kids are different and don’t need to be the same, it is important to step up and help them if they are lonely and can’t make friends. Helping them earlier on and showing them how to socialize and interact can boost their confidence in themselves and prevent depression rooted in loneliness.
We consulted with various child and parenting experts on the subject, and here are the different ways they advise we can help our kids;
1. Validate Their Feelings
Let the child know that it’s okay to be lonely. Usually, kids that are lonely feel like they don’t ‘fit in’. Validate their feelings and tell them that not everybody can be their friend, and that’s okay.
2. Figure Out What They Want Out Of A Friendship
People form their perception of friendship and companionship when they’re still very young, which affects their adult life. Talk to the lonely child and ask them what they value in a friendship. How do they imagine their relationship with their best friend?
Claire Grayson, Co-founder and Content Writer Personality Max
3. Understand Them
Many different strategies can be used to help these children, but the most important thing is to take the time to understand what they need and want from their families. Make sure you are spending enough time with them, offer support when appropriate, have one-on-one conversations with them about topics that interest them, or try some creative activities together.
With these approaches in mind, it’ll be easier for both you and your child to find fulfillment in your relationship.
Mo Mulla, Parenting Expert and Founder of Parental Questions
4. Talk and Listen
Loneliness is an increasingly common problem for kids these days. Families are limiting the number of activities they participate in outside the home to limit exposure, and many activities that would normally be available to kids are closed. This makes it harder for kids to develop friendships.
If you notice that your child seems lonely, an important first step is to spend some time talking with them. Ask how things are going and take the time to really listen to their responses. Then you can work together with your child to brainstorm solutions.
5. Help Them Join An Extracurricular Activity
One of the best ways to help your child develop friendships is to find an extracurricular activity that your child enjoys. Kids who join a club or sports team will naturally have common interests with a whole group of other children. Not only does this help them meet new people, it also gives them a conversation topic to discuss when they’re together.
Sarah Miller, homeschool mom of two and an educator with over a decade of experience teaching kids in preschool through high school, owner of homeschooling4him.com
6. Validate Their Thoughts
I validate their thoughts, even the tiniest of things. I genuinely show my enthusiasm and interest every time they open up something. This, I know, goes a long way, and they will appreciate it and will make them feel that they are welcome and appreciated.
I only ask them open-ended questions. Whenever I am asking, I always ask questions that could lead to them automatically conversing with me. Like, for example, if they say they miss playing with their friend.
I ask them open questions like what kind of games do you actually play with them? This technique automatically embeds in their mind to converse and let go of their thoughts and emotions that have been bottled up.
Erin Zadoorian, CEO and Executive Editor Ministry of Hemp
7. Immersive Activities
The best way to help a child that shows signs of loneliness is to encourage them to take part in immersive activities that allow them to socialize better. Enrolling them into a kid’s club is the first step towards that.
8. Get Them A Pet
You can also help the child by buying them a pet. Kids who take care of their pets eventually beat off any feelings of loneliness.
Harriet Chan, Co-Founder and Marketing Director of CocoFinder
We all want our kids to be socially successful, have a lot of friends, and not be left out of their peer group. Unfortunately, we can’t ensure it ourselves, so we have to focus on teaching them all we can. Kids can fail to make peer relationships because they might not know how to socialize, understand others, or feel anxious.
Parents should give space to their kids to just listen to them and understand where they are coming from. Ask open-ended questions, listen to their experiences, and observe how they feel. Make them realize that it’s okay to feel this way. Opening up is always hard, no matter the age. Have patience.
10. Play Dates
Parents should arrange playdates to help their kids get to know each other. They can go through different activities and sports that will help them break their comfort zone.
Baby steps before you can walk. Teach them to have patience and encourage them whenever they feel down or are misunderstood by the rest. Let your child know that you are always there to hear their stories. Parents should be able to set things straight with reality so kids can stop perceiving everything negatively.Jeff Johnson, a Real Estate Agent and Acquisition Manager of Simple Homebuyers