Kids who learn and think differently aren’t the only ones who can feel lonely or “apart” from other kids. Most people feel that way at some point. But research shows that kids who learn and think differently are more likely than their peers to struggle with loneliness. And they often have a harder time dealing with those feelings when they have them.
Why Kids Who Are Different Might Feel Lonely
They may feel like nobody understands them or their challenges. And they might even withdraw. Kids with certain challenges are most likely to feel left out and isolated. Things like trouble with:
The Difference Between Being Lonely and Being Alone
Some people like spending time alone. That goes for kids and adults. As long as they have the ability to make friends and connect with other people when they want to, being alone is a preference, not a problem .
Just because kids are unhappy being alone, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lonely. They may just have a hard time entertaining themselves and are bored.
Also, loneliness isn’t always about being alone. Some kids feel isolated even when they’re with others. They feel like nobody around them shares or understands their challenges.
How Loneliness Can Impact Kids
When kids go through the occasional lonely spell, it usually doesn’t have a lasting impact. Feeling lonely all the time is different, though. It can affect kids in lots of ways. And it can lead to other difficulties.
Kids who feel lonely might be:
More likely to have low self-esteem. They might feel like others are rejecting them. Kids might lose confidence in themselves and eventually believe they have nothing valuable to offer.
Less likely to take positive risks. Trying new things can build confidence and lead to new interests and skills. But kids who are already feeling rejected and vulnerable may not want to take this leap. They may be afraid to call attention to themselves and risk failing.
More likely to engage in risky behaviors. Teens may drink, smoke or vape, use drugs, vandalize property, or do other risky things if they think it will help them feel accepted.
- Some kids like spending time alone, even if they have friends.
- Kids who are different may feel like nobody understands them.
- Don’t try to force your child to be more social and make friends.
By : Kate Kelly
Peer-related loneliness across early to late adolescence: Normative trends, intra-individual trajectories, and links with depressive symptoms
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Friendship and friendship quality in middle childhood: Links with peer group acceptance and feelings of loneliness and social dissatisfaction.
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College students’ use of electronic communication with parents: Links to loneliness, attachment, and relationship quality
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