As kids hit puberty their desire to be alone steadily increases until it seems that all they do when they come home from school is shut their bedroom door. The desire to be alone tends to alarm parents who think that their children are either hiding something or hate being with the family. I have also seen that as a child wants to spend more time alone, there is friction in the family as siblings feel lonely and parents feel castoff.
Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding the importance and need for alone time to lessen the tension alone time can cause:
1. Get Curious, Not Offended
If your teenager or child starts spending time alone get curious, don’t get offended or angry. Ask them about their time alone and if they have noticed their need for alone time. Here are some of the popular reasons our teenagers gave for wanting to be alone (both good and bad):
-To relax from a hard day
-To think about stuff going on in my life
-To listen to music
-To avoid my siblings
-To avoid my parents
-To take a break from family activities
-To figure myself out
-To play video games/watch video/hang out online
2. Alone vs. Lonely
There is a huge difference between your teenager wanting to be alone and them feeling lonely. Teenagers who want to be alone might choose to do so for the reasons listed above, teenagers who are lonely might seek out further solitude because they are depressed or feel unworthy of companionship.
3. Disrupters Beware
I used to hate when my parents would barge in my room without knocking or do the “Open and Knock” where they knocked as they were opening the door. I was almost never doing something I wasn’t supposed to, it was the principle of my ‘sacred space’, my alone time being disrupted. Talk to your kids about how you should enter their room—make sure you are comfortable as well as them, as it is your house. But they will be much more open to spending time with you if they feel like when they do take alone time, it is respected.
4. Why Alone Time Can Be Good
I think alone time can be good for growing teenagers especially if it gives them time to daydream and think about themselves. There is so much happening for a teen during an average school day–teachers, homework, grades, friends, romances, body changes, mood swings that they do need way more time to process.
I hope this helps you think about your child’s desire to be alone in a new way and possible opens up conversations with them on the importance of balancing alone time with social time.
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