The theme of this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘Loneliness’. It comes off the back of a very strange couple of years where we have been more isolated than ever before. Whist some people not only like, but seek solitude, others can experience great sadness when feeling disconnected and alone.
This week is a fantastic opportunity to discuss loneliness and what we can do to support our children when they feel lonely.
1) Firstly, it’s ok to feel lonely. We all experience times when we feel lonely, where we seek connection and contact but can’t access it. It is important to validate feelings of loneliness and let children know that it is often temporary and very normal.
2) Encourage your children to problem solve. If they feel lonely, ask them to think about what might help. As parents, we have a natural instinct to solve our children’s problems. However, when we jump in before they have had an opportunity to experience the emotion and problem solve themselves, we deny them an opportunity to build their resilience and tolerance for uncomfortable emotions. Give your child time to tell you how they feel. Be curious in understanding exactly why and when they feel lonely and then problem solve together.
3) Encourage them to find their passion points. The easiest and best way for children to make meaningful connections is through shared interests. Spend time supporting your child in identifying what they are passionate about. Whether it’s sport, art or even a love of comics, identify your child’s passion points with them and then seek opportunities for them to connect with like-minded people.
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