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Is Your Teen Lonely or Alone? How to Tell the Difference

As parents, one of our biggest fears is that our child is lonely. It keeps us up at night. Yet, at the same time, we also recognize that sometimes being alone is both necessary and totally appropriate.

Courtney Evenchik, Director of School Psychology Services at A+ Solutions, explains the difference between being alone and being lonely:

It’s important to know the personality and temperament of your child. If you have a child who is an introvert, then they get their energy from being alone. They might be alone a lot more than an extrovert, a child who is always out there getting their energy from being with friends and socializing. 

There’s no problem with being alone and being happy being alone. But it’s when we’re feeling lonely and isolated that it becomes a problem.

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

It’s okay to have some alone time but when your teen is feeling lonely, they might feel down and spend more time in their room than they typically would. They may wish to have experiences but can’t get themselves up to do them. They may feel like they wish they can out there, but they just can’t do it. 

Sometimes, when parents and teens have different personalities, it’s hard for parents to understand the difference between being alone and lonely. A parent who is out there all the time making friend and talking with the neighbors and making parties may not believe that their teen is happy with one friend and is fine just hanging out in their room.

However, if you notice that your teen has changed, then it may be cause for concern. If, say, they used to have a lot of friends and now, nobody is calling them and nobody is reaching out, that may be cause for concern and require some kind of intervention. 

Susan Borison, mother of five, is the founder and editor of Your Teen Media. Because parenting teenagers is humbling and shouldn’t be tackled alone.

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