CHILDLINE ADVICE: Being lonely as a child could cause them to be vulnerable
During the height of the pandemic with children cut off from their usual support networks, friends and loved ones, many felt lonely; often struggling to cope with the separation.
At Childline we certainly heard from many young people on this very issue. Now, even with our children back at school and restrictions beginning to ease, we still need to be mindful of children who feel lonely.
Being lonely can make you vulnerable and, sadly, abusers seek to exploit that vulnerability, particularly online, for example. Remember you can be lonely even in a crowd. Everyone can at times feel lonely but I would like to offer some advice for children who consistently experience loneliness.
It can be so lonely to feel that no one values you or understands you. And at Childline we always say to the children and young people who reach out to us that it is important to share how you are feeling. But as a Childline counsellor I know how hard that can be. It can often be very difficult to trust and talk to other people about feelings. Sharing how they feel, however, can help children and young people feel less alone.
Everybody has things they worry about and sometimes feel sad about, regardless of how happy and confident they appear. Just as for adults, it is always good for children to share problems with someone they can trust. So if a child does tell you that they are lonely, please do show them you are really listening to them and that you value what they are telling you.
We have lots of advice and resources for children and young people on our Childline website, such as our moderated message boards. This is a highly valued and safe place for sharing worries without people knowing who anyone is.
Helping to build confidence is important too, so why not signpost children to our creative corner board, where children and young people play games and share poetry, creative writing and artwork. But I would say, as it is true for all of us, that by remembering all the fantastic things about ourselves - we can feel less lonely.