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What is the HALT Method and How to Apply It (Part 3: Lonely)

Updated: Jun 14, 2022

Do you think your child might be lonely? Too much technology and social media usage may be the culprit. Look for these cues of loneliness and try these ideas for making connections.

L stands for Lonely

The other day, I decided to take a walk through the park for a breath of fresh air (practicing social distancing, of course). I noticed a mom struggling with her two young kiddos, using all the patience she could muster. I watched as she calmly got down on their level, brought them close, and tried to talk them down from their tantrum. They were trying to get to the car, but they weren’t getting anywhere fast. The kids wriggled and squirmed out of her grasp, flailing around in true toddler form. I knew the look on her face well. She was exhausted and at a loss of what to do next. Or so I thought.

Suddenly, she whipped out a large picnic blanket and unloaded an assortment of snacks from her magical Mary Poppins bag. She popped a carrot stick in one child’s hands and a box of raisins in the other’s. They quietly sat down and began munching away. The tantrum vanished in an instant.

This well-versed mother knew that sometimes, when all else fails, it’s better to take a detour than to battle.

Proactive parenting goes beyond discipline. That mother knew that her kids did not need punishment, they simply had an urgent need that required urgent attention. She took a step back from the tantrum, identified the cause of the meltdown, and swiftly came to all three of their rescues.

If you are a childcare provider or parent yourself, no doubt you’ve witnessed the infamous toddler tantrums. They’re no fun for anyone, and it is difficult to pull away from the screaming. But proactive parenting is simpler than it sounds. Using the HALT method, you’ll be able to address the four most common tantrum triggers. Not only will identifying these triggers help to effectively resolve a tantrum, they will also provide tantrum prevention (music to every caregiver’s ears).

HALT stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Here are tips on how to identify your child’s needs and the best ways to help them through it. HALT is a super simple method that consistently gets positive results. (Learn more about this method in No-Drama Discipline by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D).

Lonely – It’s hard to see the fun in things when you feel all alone. Oftentimes, your child’s gloomy attitude or erratic behavior may be due to loneliness. Some children become withdrawn or teary-eyed, while others act out for attention. Look for loneliness cues, like:

  • Misbehaving or extra silly behavior

  • Clinginess

  • Interrupting

  • Lack of confidence

  • Imaginary friends (imagination is healthy, but paired with other cues, this could be a sign of loneliness)

  • Crying or obvious sadness

Can we offer some gentle truth? Technology and social media usage by both parents and children are creating a great divide. If you notice signs of loneliness, it’s imperative to your child’s mental, social, and physical health that you make time for him. Provide moments where you intentionally choose your child over other tasks at hand. Even if you have to work, set aside time for breaks with your little one. Go outside, play a game, cuddle, do a puzzle. Some quality time with his favorite person can do wonders.

It’s also important to ask your child if he feels lonely and encourage him to speak up about his feelings – you are a safe place to come when he’s struggling.


Check back often for more positive parenting resources – we’re excited to take this journey with you!


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