How to encourage kids to seek help

Throughout adolescence, many circumstances arise that can leave you feeling out of depth.  In these instances, it’s important that our kids feel comfortable and confident to seek help rather than letting their problems stack up until they’re out of control.

Having the courage to ask for help is also a really important life skill, whether it be on a personal, emotional or professional level, and one that can take years to master if not introduced from a young age.

Let’s take at how to get help for a troubled teenager and more importantly, how to encourage them to seek help for themselves.


Lead by example 

One of the best ways to encourage young people to seek help is to demonstrate that it’s okay to do so.

There are times that we all need help, even as parents. In these times, it’s really important that your kids see you reach out to others for support or guidance. This will help them to understand that everybody needs help sometimes and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.


Share personal stories 

Another great way to encourage your kids to reach out when they need help is to tell them stories about times when you were struggling. Let them know exactly how you felt at that time and how asking for help was able help you manage the situation.

This shows them that they don’t need to be ashamed of their emotions. It also demonstrates that opening up to someone else can really help them navigate difficult situations and ease negative emotions.


Encourage seeking help as a strength 

While perceptions may be changing, many people still see asking for help as a weakness, and this can often discourage young people from reaching out when they need it.

When you think about it, however, opening up and making yourself vulnerable actually takes tremendous courage. When talking with your kids about asking for help, make sure to stress the fact that getting support when you need it is a strength, not a weakness.


Respect their thoughts and feelings 

Regardless of whether you see the issue as big or small, it’s important to understand that your child is really struggling with something and you should avoid playing it down or telling them that it’s not a big deal. This will likely make them feel worse and will discourage them from asking for help again in the future.

Instead of playing things down, show them that you understand what they’re going through, that you’re there for them and that you’ll get through it together.


Make them feel listened to

If your child comes to you for help, it’s likely that they’ve been struggling with something for a period of time and have finally decided that they can’t manage it on their own.

In light of this, it’s important that you make yourself available to talk if and when they need to. Always aim to give them your full attention and try to minimise interruptions from other children or family members.


How to get help for a troubled teenager 

Sometimes kids can come to you with a problem that seems too big or too complicated for you to confidently provide advice. When this happens, it’s a good idea to seek out professional help to make sure your child gets the best possible support for their circumstances.

Depending on the situation, this might be a counsellor, psychologist, kids helpline or even the police.

Whatever it is, sit down and talk with them about it and make the decision together about how to approach professional help.

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