“All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
“Eleanor Rigby” by The Beatles (1966)
The stereotypical lonely old lady or man is what many people think of when confronted with the fact that there are lonely people all around them.
It's easy to understand why some old people may be lonely. They’re living alone. Their children may live far away, or they may not have children. These lonely men and women might have illnesses or physical disabilities that prevent them from easily leaving their homes to make or maintain friendships.
We don’t often think of children being lonely. But many are.
A recent article in Scientific American magazine, January 2018, pointed out that loneliness research spotlights young people because of the lingering effect that loneliness can have throughout a lifetime.
Lonely children are at a higher risk of becoming lonely and depressed adolescents and adults.
A study at the University of Groningen in Holland in 2016 found that lonely children fall into two groups:
- Those with poor social skills. They appear more shy and are prone to being bullied. Researchers said these children’s social skills can be improved, leading them to more effective interpersonal interactions and thus becoming less lonely.
- Others with a pervasive negative view of themselves. They may have fine social skills but can interpret their performance in normal social situations as poor. (e.g. they may think they talk to little, or too much).
The encouraging news is children in the first group can be helped by social and emotional learning (SEL) programs.
Children in the second group are more likely to be assisted by counselling.
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