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3 Ways to Help When Kids Feel Lonely

Every child feels lonely now and then. But kids can feel better when parents work with them to practice skills that help with bonding, belonging, and feeling close to others. These are called social connection skills.

Here are 3 ways you can help your child build social connection skills:

1. Connect with your child. Make time to connect every day — even if it’s for just a few minutes. It can be small talk or hearing about their day. Listen with your full attention. Make eye contact, share a smile, and give a hug. Let them know they can always count on you for support. Over time, your child will learn that one of the best ways to ease lonely feelings is to think of — and connect with — someone they already feel close to.

2. Help your child make healthy friendships. Talk to your child about friends. Find out who they enjoy being around and why. Teach them friendship skills, like being kind and fair. Teach them to include others, take turns, listen, and be a good sport. Help them learn to speak up for themselves and for others. Kids feel less lonely when they have close positive relationships and feel part of family, a friendship, or a community.

3. Teach kids to help, be kind, and thank others. Show your kids how to help — at home, school, and in the community. Teach them to be kind and thank people for small favors. Be a role model by thanking your child when they show kindness. Their real reward is how they feel when they see their impact and feel the lift that happens with social connection. That’s why people who are kind and help others feel more connected and less lonely.

What if My Child Needs More Help With Lonely Feelings?

Most of the time, kids and teens can cope with the lonely feelings they go through. Some find a way to feel better on their own or with support from a parent or good friend. Lonely feelings fade when kids find a way to connect, feel accepted, be understood, or are reminded that they belong.

Some lonely feelings, though, are deeper and harder to deal with. Kids and teens may need more help to get through them. If you're worried that your child is dealing with loneliness that lasts too long or happens too often, talk to their doctor. It might help for your child to speak with a therapist or other mental health provider who can help them find ways to cope.

Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date Reviewed: Oct 31, 2023

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