Why Don’t My Kids Ask for Help?

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This is a common frustration with all parents. We see the child struggling or even failing, yet they don’t ask for help. We want them to come to us yet they don’t ask for help. Here are the reasons this is happening:

1. They don’t need help.

Your perception of the struggle is yours. Your child might be enjoying the process or even enjoying what they are doing. They may have support from others and not need ours. We often project our own opinion of what is going on into the scenario as well as desire to be needed.

2. We don’t model how to ask for help.

As busy parents, we are often not good examples of how this is done. Think of the last time you were overwhelmed by the laundry, housecleaning or making dinner. Did you ask anyone for help? Our kids watch us and model what they see. By using the power of leadership, we can show them how to ask for help by making sure they see us do it.

3. They are in overwhelm.

When we feel overwhelmed, we are spinning in thoughts and often have difficulty taking the next step. This is even more powerful with children. A simple cue of “what’s next?” could be just the boost they need to get started and not need us any further.

4. They are being sensitive to others.

Some of you think I’m kidding. But some children have learned that their actions bring up a reaction they don’t want and although it may come across as a polite “I don’t want to take your time”, what’s really going on is they don’t want an argument or negative energy in the room. My oldest child frequently verbalizes this challenge.

5. They are worried about what other people will think.

Maybe asking for help creates the thought “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not smart enough” or “I can’t do things” and the child thinks everyone else will have the same thought about them.

So how do we help our kids learn to ask for help?

1. Ask them if they need it. And be clear with them on what that looks like. Do they need help getting started, with a step in the middle or just an encouraging word? And maybe they need it from someone other than you. We all have people it’s easier to accept help from than others and it often depends on the situation. “If I can’t help you, is there someone that could?”

2. Practice believing what your child tells you. When kids are learning skills, we often told them “No, you don’t” when they asked for help with things because we wanted them to know we believed in them and their ability to do the skill. But how we worded it stuck. If they say they need help, ask how that would look and be there. If they say they don’t, respect it. The way we teach kids how to use their words is to take them seriously. They are more likely to learn to use their words for what they mean if we learn to believe the ones they use.

3. Come from a loving place. We all have those times when we are in a hurry and just want a task to move on. But take that deep breath and make an intentional decision about how you want to respond and act.

4. Ask what they are thinking. Asking for help is an action that results from their thoughts and feelings. Sometimes they can identify the thought that is leading to the asking or not asking.Do you need help learning how to communicate better with your child, how to calm the chaos or how to make everything run a bit smoother? Email me at sarahkennedycoaching@gmail.com

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