It’s pretty common to feel isolated in adulthood- long-distance friendships are basically the norm and everyone’s so busy, it’s hard to connect. But children can be lonely too, even if they’re not actually alone. Here are the some of the subtle signs of a lonely kid:
Signs of a Lonely Kid
1. Incessant Talking
Kids who feel lonely will talk a lot. This attempt to make social connections often backfires because their constant chatter annoys others and causes them to avoid him/her. One adult reflecting back on her childhood was able to recognize this behavior in herself,
“Over-talking whenever there’s someone to talk to, because having no one for long periods makes it just pour out even if you’re aware it’s incredibly socially awkward.” — Violet F.
2. Constantly Interrupts
Lonesome kids feel resentful when your attention is elsewhere. They will continually try to redirect the focus to themselves. 
3. Attention Seeking Behavior
The “look at me” performance to draw attention to themselves could be positive or negative. If I child knows they can get more attention with destructive tactics they will do so.
On the other hand, some children withdraw and become isolated. They spend much of their time alone in their bedrooms. Although they may desire social interaction, they may not know how to go about it.[1,2]
“I read a lot and before I could read I had a vivid imagination. When no one wants to play with you or you have no one to go out with as an adult at night, reading books is your best friend. That and my animals.” — Jennifer D.
3. Pretend Friends
A make-believe friend may simply be a sign of an active imagination, or it could be a symptom of loneliness. One woman states,
“I talk to myself and I would stare obsessively at pictures of musicians or actors and talk with them. I would live in my head and make up friendships with them.” — Stephanie H.
6. Lacking in social skills
Most lonely kids can be socially awkward. This is a vicious cycle for the child because if they are unable to make connections with their peers, they continue to feel the loneliness. This can be compounded if bullying results from the inability to make social connections.
7. Low Morale
Constantly seeking validation from others can leave a child with low self-esteem disappointed. All children are worthy of having friends, but should not use the opinions of others to feel deserving.
In this digital age, a person can have many “online” friends but never interact with people in real life. Young people may begin to compare themselves to others that appear to have a perfect life, however, true reality is not portrayed on social media sites. [1,2]
A lonely kid may be shy, anxious or lack confidence. Again these factors could be both a cause or a result of being lonely.
Kids who cry inconsolably for no obvious reason may be exhibiting this behavior out of loneliness.
10. They Verbalize It
When your child laments, “Nobody likes me”, or “I don’t have any friends,” these are more obvious cues that he/she is lonely.
Looking back on your childhood, do you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself? How did you overcome them? Do you see these signs of loneliness in your own child? It often helps children if you can relate to these issues and offer some suggestions for resolution. Asking them if they are choosing to be alone, or they would like to set up a play date is one idea.
As well, you can read some excellent suggestions for adults and children to combat loneliness in this technology-based society.
1. 10 Ways to Tell if a Kid is Lonely | eNannySource. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.enannysource.com/blog/index.php/2012/01/07/10-ways-to-tell-if-a-kid-is-lonely/ accessed August 30, 2018.
2. Loneliness a key concern for thousands of children. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/news-opinion/loneliness-key-concern-thousands-children/ accessed August 30, 2018.
3. Virzi, J., et al (2018). 18 Signs You Grew Up Chronically Lonely. Retrieved from https://themighty.com/2018/08/always-lonely-kid/ accessed August 30, 2018.
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