“WHY DIDN’T YOU ASK FOR HELP?”
Occasionally parents report feeling frustrated when their child tells them at night that they needed assistance at school but didn’t go to a teacher for support. Or maybe the child was busy playing a game and only remembered to tell a parent later that they had been physically hurt or were treated in an upsetting way.
Hearing these stories is a good reminder for all of us that asking for help is an important social-emotional skill that many of us as adults haven’t fully mastered.
There are countless YouTube videos for children and adults about the importance of learning to ask for support, even though it can make us feel weak and vulnerable. This becomes an important topic as we imagine children going into new classrooms and schools in the summer. Feeling confident asking questions is one of the keys to adjusting in an unfamiliar environment.
Getting children to ask for what they need can be tricky. Children, especially young ones, often don’t have the words to articulate what the issue is. As they get older, they become more emotionally invested in appearing not to need help from others.
Talking at home, or at school, about different situations when it’s important to ask for support lays the foundation for children to feel safe doing so. Roleplaying different scenarios builds confidence and a feeling of safety. Children also benefit greatly from hearing adults talk about the ways they ask for help in their own lives.
We want to cultivate the attitude that asking for what one needs is courageous.
Children at our school are actually known for their ability to speak confidently to adults when they graduate from our elementary program and enter new settings. We want to build on those successes and always be working, as a community, to expand our ability to listen to children and support them in the most effective, loving ways.
This article addresses many aspects of teaching children to ask for help.