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Helping Lonely Children To Make Friends

Often, when we think of loneliness and children, we think of older children and teens. But, research shows that even pre-schoolers and kindergarteners can experience, describe, and understand the concept of loneliness. (“Loneliness in Young Children” (PDF), by Janis R. Bullock.)

Young children who are lonely may seem timid, unsure, or sad. Children may feel rejected by others or may stand back from a group for fear of being rejected. Whatever the reason for their loneliness, help children talk about how they feel.

Young children learn social skills from their family and caregivers—the most important people in their lives. The best way to help children combat loneliness is by helping them find ways to make and keep friendships. We can do this by helping them learn to:

  • Share toys and games and take turns when playing with others.
  • Work together to find solutions to problems or to decide on what to do.
  • Express their feelings in a positive way and understand that others have feelings, too.
  • Stand up for themselves, but treat others fairly.

Get more information and tips on friendship from “Your Kids and Their Friends.


  • Loneliness in Young Children” (PDF), by Janis R. Bullock, concludes that even very young children can show signs of and understand loneliness. (Publication funded by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education.)

  • Building Social Skills” (PDF) from Community Coordinated Childcare provides tips on developing social skills in young children.

  • Getting Young Children Ready to Learn” (PDF) from Extension Service of Alabama A&M and Auburn gives an assortment of child-raising tips, including ideas for developing social skills and making and keeping friends.

  • Connections” (PDF), In the Aftermath: Lesson Plan 11 from the American Red Cross Masters of Disaster program provides excellent tools for helping children learn to make friends, despite differences.

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Updated on 3/21/2012