Teenage years are a tricky time and identifying if something is wrong can be difficult.
If you're child is spending a lot of time alone, it's natural to wonder if this is okay, a passing phase or if it's something that you should be concerned about.
Some things that may cause loneliness and isolation could be screen-based activities.
These play a big part in our children's lives.
There are lots of positives linked to watching TV, gaming or using social media to connect with friends.
But it's been estimated that screen time can vary between two to eight hours a day for young people and they may continually compare themselves to others online, which can lead to feelings of isolation.
Changing schools, moving from primary to secondary school, often college up to university. Feeling misunderstood and having a sense of not fitting in even when surround by people, being left out, sports or academic teams, changes to their mental health or well-being or managing a mental health condition, living with a long-term condition or disability, being bullied.
How do you know if your teenager is lonely?
It's important to recognize that young people don't have to be socializing all the time and value time on their own.
But they can be good at hiding how they feel, so it might not be easy to spot clear signs of loneliness.
Some signs that your child might be feeling lonely and isolated include developing low self-esteem and losing confidence in themselves and their abilities. Being sad, withdrawn and pulling away from others,
getting angry and upset, not wanting to try or do new hobbies or social activities or drinking and smoking in a bid to feel accepted.
Tips for talking to your teen.
Take the lead if you feel that something is wrong.
A gentle nudge might help them to open up.
Show your child that they can lean on you for support.
It can be distressing hearing your child is struggling, but it's important to keep calm, listen and be understanding.
Set up a safe space where you'll be able to have a conversation such as on a walk or at home when no one else is around.
Bear in mind, that the evening might not be the best time, if you and your child are tired.
Natural conversation starters might arise.
For example, if you're watching TV together and something relevant comes up.
Perhaps ask their advice about a problem a friend is dealing with or if it feels right, suggest you'd like to talk to them about something directly.
If your child is defensive, unreceptive or clams up, take a break, but return to it again in few days time.
You might find that they come to you when they feel ready to talk.
A conversation is a two-way thing.
And listening to your teen is important.
Encourage them to ask questions and share some of your experiences to show that you understand.
Try and ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
There might not be a simple way to help, but just making sure they know they can trust you, that you're always there for them and that you love and care will help them feel supported.