Everyone needs some time alone every once in a while. It’s healthy and rejuvenating. It helps us connect with our feelings, our needs, our values, our beliefs and our goals. However, if your daughter is isolating herself from others for long periods of time, she may develop feelings of social anxiety, loneliness, or a sense of helplessness.
In fact, one study found that social isolation can lead to depression, especially among teenage girls.
Types of Isolation
The first thing you need to understand, as a parent, is there are different types of isolation. Physical isolation refers to be being physically removed from others. In this case, your teen may spend all of her time in her room, away from friends and family, when not at school. Emotional isolation is a problem as well and refers to the perception of being isolated from others. In this case, your daughter may be surrounded by friends and family but may feel as if she is separate from them.
Social isolation is extremely common among teens and refers to the feeling of being socially isolated from others. According to a PewResearchCenter report, 54 percent of teens report that they talk to their friends daily through text rather than face-to-face when not in school. This can make teenagers feel as if they aren’t as social with their peers in some cases.
It’s also important to understand that isolation isn’t a diagnosis, but often a symptom of a much bigger mental health problem, like agoraphobia, social anxiety and depression.
What Should You Do?
Isolation can make your teen experience feeling of low self-worth, depression, shame and many other mental health concerns. So, what, as a parent, should you do to help your teen?
Therapy- Therapy is one of the first steps you can take to help your teenager. It can help address some of the psychological and emotional issues that are leading to the isolation.
Talk- If you feel like your daughter is isolating, take the time to talk to her about it. She may want to make new friends or engage emotionally, but may not be able to because she is scared or unsure of how to go about it. You can help her in this case by providing her with options for interacting with new people. This may include encouraging her to go attend church groups or community events. You may also want to invite others to your home, where she can interact with them in a safe ‘home turf’ environment.
Equine Therapy- Equine therapy has been shown to help people address specific issues that may cause isolation, such as poor communication skills, anxiety, depression and addiction. Greenbrier Academy offers this type of animal therapy for troubled teens.
Extracurricular Activities- In addition to church and community events your daughter can take part in, her school may also have a variety of extracurricular activities she can become involved in. Make sure she knows what’s available and make an effort to do what you can to let her be involved. It may take a bit of extra work to get her to and from drama practice or softball practice three nights a week, but she’s worth it.
At Greenbrier Academy for Girls, we take many steps to make sure every one of our girls has the chance to participate in a variety of activities that let them interact with both staff and other students. From sporting events to clubs to group therapy, we strive to prevent isolation in any form.