-Mayah Taylor, MA
In teenagers, loneliness is an emotion that is frequently experienced throughout their developing years. Many teens around the world struggle with loneliness. Loneliness can be caused by numerous reasons stemming from social awkwardness to bullying. Loneliness can pose a significant problem for teens on a mental and physical level. This loneliness, if left unaddressed, can affect your teen not only in their teenage years but also as adults. Read more on how loneliness can affect teens, how you can spot if your teen is struggling with loneliness, if it is normal to experience loneliness, and what you can do as parents to help.
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both a teen’s physical and mental health. Their loneliness can increase their risk of depression and anxiety which could lead to them feeling disconnected, withdrawn, and isolated. You may notice that your teen has changes in their weight which can be weight loss or weight gain. Your teen’s loneliness may place them at risk of using drugs and alcohol or engage in other risky and reckless behaviors. You may even notice a lack of confidence and low self-esteem within your child. Parents should be sure to maintain awareness of any changes that may occur with their teen’s behaviors and emotional state. Loneliness left unaddressed can spiral out of control and place your teen at risk of suicide and engaging in self harm behaviors such as cutting.
It is crucial that parents pay close attention to their teens behaviors and always keep an open line of communication with your teen. If you suspect that your teen may be struggling with loneliness, isolation, or even depression, sit with your teen and talk to them about it. You can take this opportunity to work with your teen to find ways to alleviate the loneliness. For example, suggest that your teen connect with loved ones or friends and offer suggestions for ways in which to connect. If your child does not have many friends and struggles with isolation, you can always suggest or encourage them to engage in activities in the community like volunteering or trying out for a sport at school. This can be a helpful resource with your teen making new friends and meeting others if that is the source of their feelings of loneliness. Being proactive can make the difference between loneliness being temporary or escalating into something more serious and longer term like depression. Also, be sure to determine if your child is the victim of bullying. Bullying can contribute to loneliness in teens, and cause them to isolate themselves from others. It can also be helpful to communicate with your teen’s teachers to alert them of any noticeable changes in your teen’s behavior and mood. This can allow for an opportunity for you and your teen’s teachers to compare notes and for them to share with you any changes they are noticing while your teen is in school. The more information you have, the better you will be able to assess if your teen is struggling with loneliness and needs help.
While loneliness can be temporary at times, for some teens it can develop into something long term that is an ongoing battle for your teen. The best approach is to be observant of your teen and pay close attention to any changes in their behavior and mood. Remember that your teen may even choose to hide their loneliness from you, but you can still support them by working to keep the lines of communication open and letting them know you are there for them. As always if you ever feel like your teen is struggling beyond what you can help them with, know that you do not have to do this alone. Reaching out to mental health professionals and doctors is always a helpful resource for the teenager struggling with loneliness. Therapy can be a positive way of helping your teen open up, allow them to work through their loneliness, and develop positive and healthy coping skills. We hope this week’s blog has been helpful to you. Let us know about your successes and challenges with your teen and loneliness here. What have you learned from your experiences? Let us know on our Facebook and/or Twitter pages!
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