Psychological Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents

How to Help Kids & Teens Ask for Help

Published on: May 31, 2015  

How to Help Kids & Teens Ask for Help

For many, asking for help is second nature. For others, it’s quite a challenge. The belief in your ability, worthiness of receiving help, desire (motivation) to want things to change, and the skills needed to actually ask for help often get in the way of you taking that risk approach someone and ask for the help you need.


Here are some common beliefs we have about ourselves that often get in the way of us asking for support and some strategies on how to expand your comfort zone and connect with others garner support.

Belief That Needing Help Is a Sign of Weakness. I hear this one a lot. Kids and teens believe that others will perceive them as not being as smart as their peers or that they “should” know how to do something when they really don’t.

Actually, asking for help is a sign of intelligence and confidence.  You are smart enough to know that I don’t know. Smart enough to know who to ask when you need help and the skills to ask the right questions at the right time. You know what you need and are aware of the strategies on how to get that need met.

GYRO TIP: Be choosy about who you ask for help. The trick is to identify people who you know will be able to support you. I like to tell kids and teens that it’s best to ask help from master proboem solvers. They come in all shapes and sizes and easy to spot if you have a kean eye… Here are a couple qualities that master problem solvers typically have:

  • They are visible, available, and are often place themselves in professional or personal roles where they can help others.
  • They have a good track record of solving problems and providing meaningful and accurate information.
  • We have seen them help others solve (or resolve) problems in the past.
  • They have good active listening skills, are engaged, and communicate that they truly want to help and see you and others succeed.
  • We know friends or family members who they have helped with positive results.
  • They are open-minded and non-judgmental and access resources easily when they need help.
  • They have good control of their emotions and know how to stay calm.
  • And finally, master problem solvers and good helpers like to stick together as they are typically positive thinkers, optimistic, and like to stay engaged in healthy relationships and activities.

Belief that You’re Not Deserving of Help and Support. The truth is that everyone, young and old, needs help. We simply can’t know everything. We need a team of helpers to help guide in the right direction and support us along the way. Take it from me…developing a close-knit team of people you trust and who you can rely on to help is a necessary condition for your success.

I have never met anyone who has achieved great things completely independently. Reach out, ask the questions that help clarify what you need or want, and then move forward with that information toward achieving your immediate and long-term goals and dreams.

Staying Silent Even Though You Are Confused or Uncertain. It takes time to master a new task or skill and be able to complete it independently in a variety of different situations. Asking for help effectively is no different.

The first step is knowing and accepting that you don’t know. After that, you need to identify people who can help you get the information and resources you need and then assert yourself and ask for what you need. Completing this process is necessary but not without its pitfalls, especially accepting that we don’t know something.

Taking personal responsibility for your own learning and development becomes part of the equation. The motivation to want to be a better student, or have more friends, or know more about something is trasformative as it is the engery that drives you to seek the information or support that you want.

“I’ll Just Wait For People to Come to Me…They’re Likely Know That I Need Help”. Most people I know are not so great at mind reading. I’m a professional, and I usually guess wrong. Others may not know that you’re having difficulty or that you confused and need help.

People do a lot of things to disguise the fact that are struggling in one area or another as to not draw attention to themselves. That’s why it’s important to reach out and ask for help. Raising your hand in the middle of your most challenging class or approaching your parents with a tough topic might be too much. Perhaps, you start by writing them a letter telling them what’s on your mind or letting them know that you would like to talk with them privately about something.

Master problem solvers are experts are reading these messages and will often go way out of their way to make sure you feel comfortable and safe.

Believe in Yourself and Keep Trying. “I’m not old enough to play football or baseball. I’m not eight yet. My Mom told me when you start baseball you aren’t going to be able to run fast because you had an operation. I told my Mom that I didn’t need to run fast. When I play baseball, I’ll just hit them out of the park. Then I’ll be able to walk.” ~Edward McGrath

“Magic happens when you believe in yourself.” ~Barbie (from the movie, Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale)

Asking for help is a learned skill that takes practice to perfect. When we ask, our tone of voice, body posture and how we ask are all factors that contribute to having a favorable response from others. If you don’t get the response you hoped for the first time, take a step back, think through your delivery, ask an adult or a friend or two and give it another try. You’ll be glad you did. “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” ~Dory from the movie Nemo.

Asking an adult, “what’t the best way to ask for help” is not out of bounds. If anything, they will appreciate you considering them in your problem solving process.

Why Asking for Help Is Important. When you don’t know how to do something, feel confused about what you supposed or expected to do or when we are hurt and need help, talking with trusted adults is a good choice. Adults can provide some new ideas on challenging situations or provide options on how to get through a difficult situation.

If we don’t ask for help or tell them about it, we run the risk of making decisions on our own experiences and and information which may or may not represent everything that is happening. Acting without know all the facts or responding emotionally often leads to more complex challenges or conflicts.

Besides, your parents and other trusted adults want to help and be involved. Sharing a conflict, the different strategies to solve that conflict, and what you did to make that happen, is the type of communication that will strengthen your relationships with trusted adults in your life and will lead you to feeling safe, secure, and confident.

Please feel free to contact us if your child or teen had difficulty asking for help, struggles with social relationships or often gets down on themselves, 236-236-0206. We’re here to help!

With Warmest Regards,

Dr. Dave Callies
Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychologist
Gyro Psychology Services

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