Researcher advises parents to talk about feelings

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Of: Judith Brown


Childhood loneliness can have consequences for the offspring well into adulthood. Especially when parents make the subject taboo.

Loneliness is no longer a foreign concept to many people in the modern world. The Corona pandemic with its contact restrictions and lockdowns has done the rest. Especially young people between the ages of 18 and 29 are said to be affected by the feeling. Most of the time, we experience loneliness when there is upheaval or major change, such as moving to a new city or losing a loved one.

However, feelings of loneliness can have their roots in childhood. They are often the result of childhood trauma, which the affected have to struggle with into adulthood. It is all the more important that parents pay attention to their children, feel loneliness and talk to them about feelings. Because everyone feels lonely from time to time – which is why, according to childhood researcher Prof. Thorsten Herbst, the topic should in no way be made taboo.

Loneliness in children: Researcher advises parents to talk about feelings

Children first develop the ability to independently perceive themselves and the world towards the end of primary school. So they can only recognize loneliness when parents name it. (Iconic image) © Adalberto Rodriguez/IMAGO

According to the course leader for applied therapy science at the IB University of Health and Social Affairs, it is important to convey to children that everyone knows the feeling of loneliness. He therefore warns against german radio culture, make it a taboo subject. Children should be taught to talk openly about feelings of loneliness, otherwise “emotional side effects” may occur: “Simple example: A child who experiences loneliness by being excluded, if it happens repeatedly, will also believe that it is a child , with whom you cannot play very well, who looks stupid, who has ugly shoes. That is, a stigma is taken and it is made into a self-stigma.”

In children up to the age of five, loneliness is expressed in the fear of being abandoned by their parents or those close to them. Later it manifests itself, for example, in the form of discrimination, the absence of close friends or only a few, or when children spend too much time on their smartphones. If basic trust is shaken at this stage and lost as a result, it will be difficult to rebuild it later. The little ones therefore need particularly close, familiar and stable relationships in these early years. In this way, they can protect themselves from chronic feelings of loneliness in adulthood and manage to be alone without fear.

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Loneliness in childhood: What can parents do?

According to Herbst, it is important for parents to sense them so that children do not suppress their feelings of loneliness. After all, children first develop the ability to perceive themselves and the world independently towards the end of primary school. Therefore, they only feel this emotion when they are named by their caregivers, such as parents or older siblings. Parents should therefore ask themselves: “Why do we make this taboo, and with what attitudes or perhaps exercises can we address this phenomenon?”

The childhood researcher recommends that you deal with your own feelings of loneliness from childhood. It helps to remember your own childhood and to ask in which situations you felt lonely and which reasons played a role. In this way, it is possible to explore where childhood feelings of loneliness come from.

This article contains only general information about the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medicine. It in no way replaces a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editors are not allowed to answer individual questions about clinical images.

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