Loneliness in teenagers; Childline advice

by My Kent Family reporter

In her latest column for My Kent Family, Childline services manager Wendy Robinson talks about feelings of loneliness amongst young people...

It’s normal to feel lonely or isolated sometimes. But if these feelings start to take over they can be overpowering.

Loneliness isn’t typically something you expect to affect young people but at Childline we know it’s affecting more and more children and in 2017/18 we counselled 4,363 children for loneliness, up 14% on the previous year.

Childline can offer help and advice with loneliness
Childline can offer help and advice with loneliness

Teenagers accounted for most of these, with the youngest person seeking help aged just 10.

There are many reasons why a child or young person might feel lonely – perhaps they’re being bullied, have been abused or they don’t get on with family members.

They might be living in care, have a mental health condition, or they might have moved house a lot and struggled to make friends.

Teenagers who feel 'left out' by friends or of social events will feel lonely
Teenagers who feel 'left out' by friends or of social events will feel lonely

Social media can also play a huge role in feeling isolated. Children compare themselves to others or they see people they thought were their friends socialising without them.

One teenage boy* told Childline: “Recently I've been feeling really isolated and alone. I see all my friends having a good time on social media and it gets me down, I feel like no one cares enough to invite me. My mood is getting worse and now I'm just upset all the time and can't stop crying.
"It's affecting my school work and I'm having bad mood swings, it's like everything is falling apart. I just don't want to feel alone anymore.”

The epidemic of loneliness is something that’s being taken seriously by the Government.

Parents should talk to their children, says Childline
Parents should talk to their children, says Childline

If you’re worried your child is experiencing loneliness there are a few simple things you can do to help them:

* Encourage them to talk to you – make sure they’re not being too hard on themselves.

* Suggest they keep track of their feelings in a mood journal.

* Help them think of positive things – focus on the things they’re good at to boost their confidence.

Exploring the Childline website together can really help.

If they’re struggling to make friends there’s advice on how to do that, there are tips on how to boost confidence and self-esteem and there is advice on the message boards on the Childline website.

And if you’re not sure how to approach the subject the NSPCC has all the tips you need on how to start a difficult conversation, so you both feel comfortable and it’s easier to be honest with each other.

Wendy Robinson, Childline service manager
Wendy Robinson, Childline service manager

And don’t forget if they don’t feel they can talk to you, they can talk to one of our trained Childline counsellors, free and in complete confidence.

Simply call 0800 1111, or chat online with a counsellor at www.childline.org.uk.

* All names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the child or young person. Quotes are created from real Childline contacts but are not necessarily direct quotes from the young person.

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