Every one goes though loneliness at some point or the other. You or your teen are no different. But what is important for us as parents is that we educate our teen about loneliness. And give them some tools they can use when they feel lonely. It will not only help them when they are with you but also when they move out and live on their own.
Effective Coping mechanisms to deal with loneliness
1.Keep yourself busy
Teach your teen to recognise the feeling of loneliness when they come. Teach them to immediately keep themselves busy and engaged in something that is of interest to them. Rather than being stuck in the feeling and starting to get depressed about the situation.
Schedule which is very healthy that constitutes of times that you spent for yourself and for others. Stick to this schedule. In that way your chances of feeling isolated all only minimises drastically because you remove the uncertainty is out of your day to day activity.
Figure out with your teen the days and times when the feeling of loneliness is more profound and plan and have a schedule during that time to keep themselves busy. E.g Your teen might feel lonelier on Saturday evening if they are alone. Have them participate in church choir practice to be engaged at this time.
3.Take care of a living thing
One of the things that I found to be very effective which I have taught my teenage sons to combat is by indulging in an activity that requires them to take care of another living being. It can be anything from gardening, feeding the fishes or giving your pet a bath. When children get closely associated with nature It begins its healing process.
As a practicing Christian this point always comes handy to deal with many of the issues that we face in our day to day life. Kids are taught numerous songs and how to pray. One of the best ways to come back to a lonely feeling is by singing songs and dancing praising God in worship. If you are not religiously inclined you could substitute this by doing yoga or meditation or just observing silence and diverting your mind from any negative thoughts that can arise
5.Remembering happy moments and gratitude
Teach your teen to overcome negative thoughts by remembering happy and pleasant memories or a funny joke. Teach them to whisper a “thank you” and have a sense of gratitude. In that way when they go back in time to a happy place, they automatically start feeling a sense of gratitude for what has been and that gives confidence and hope for the future that is to come.
6.Talk it out; vent it
You can also teach your teen to be able to vent out or talk about their feelings and their frustrations. My elder son would sit in front of the mirror for hours to end and just have one good venting session looking at his own self. But I have also seen that this is therapeutic for him and he emerges out much stronger and more relaxed.
7.Dress up and go out
This particular suggestion works for me almost every single time. I just imagine that I am going to some very important place and I would dress appropriately for the meeting. so, the entire dressing is 30 – 45 minutes which will make me lose my thoughts from my loneliness to how I look and subsequently how I feel. and once I am done with my dressing up, I just take my bike and go out with no plan. Sometimes it can be to an ice cream parlour nearby, or it can be to have a stroll by the beach or it can even be sitting on a bench in a railway station and watching travellers pass by. Since I have time to kill. I smile or greet people who make eye contact with me. And it makes me happy.
8.Send in a letter
This is a very powerful technique that you can use which can have for reaching positive effects. I always have a set of papers, envelops and stamps. When loneliness hits all I have to do is take write a letter to a friend or a family member and seal, stamp and post it. When you are writing the letter, you find a lot of healing happening. and the best part is when you get the call back on the person you have written to since in this digital ear handwritten letters are priceless. Yes, it takes a bit of an effort to come out of your comfort zone and start writing a letter but like I said it has far reaching positive effects definitely helps in making meaningful connections in the long run
9.Nail negative thoughts – Mindfully aware
Teach your teen to be more mindfully aware. Give examples of negative talks or thoughts and make them be conscious of the negative thoughts that they can have when they go through loneliness episodes. Also emphasize and encourage them to spot these negative thoughts and counter them with positive ones or distract themselves from encouraging these thoughts. So that they are able to nail negative thoughts and be free from their grips.
It is our duty as parents to help our children in whatever way possible to face and overcome challenges. And in the above points when I say ‘teach’ the best way to go about doing it is to work with your teen to find out what works best for them and also brainstorm with them to come up with items which are concrete that they can do when they are facing a lonely episode.
Run past your teen these coping mechanisms so that they are not left to think on their feet when they are going through the stressful periods of loneliness.
I have seen when you have prepared your teen in advance on what the options are available to them and how they can cope up with loneliness. In most of the cases your teenager will choose to follow the coping mechanism that you have already taught them.
And that way you can help them deal effectively and not indulge in anything more dangerous or harmful in order to escape loneliness