How to Ask for Help


I want to teach my children to be resourceful. I want them to be independent and self-reliant, able to make their way in the world and confident of that fact.

But I also want them to know how to ask for help.

I struggle with asking for help. It makes me feel weak, vulnerable, and ashamed. I often worry that asking for help will make others secretly resent me and the burden I bring to their lives. I’m afraid needing help makes me inadequate.

None of those fears, however, stop me from needing help from time to time.

I’m human. I need help from other humans to make my way in the world. Sometimes, help isn’t so much necessary as desired to make life better – and wanting help, having the potential to benefit from help, is just as valid an excuse for asking as needing. At least, that’s what a good therapist will tell you.

My fears do not make me stop needing help, they just make it harder for me to properly ask.

I hint. I nudge. I tell the world what I need and resent like hell when the people in it don’t respond with solutions. I justify my own inability to ask for help by insisting that you would know what I needed if you really cared. I give away all of my power and responsibility for my own happiness instead of just asking for help.

That, my friends, is no way to live. It’s limiting and dishonest. Trying to “do it all” because we are too afraid to open our mouths and make our needs known does not make me or others like me noble; it makes us foolish. It robs us of oceans of happiness. I don’t want that for my kids, and so I’m determined to teach them how to ask for help and encourage them to do so frequently.

How I Teach My Kids to Ask for Help

Emma is notorious for walking into a room and announcing her needs without taking the time to actually ask for help. “I’m hungry,” she’ll say, and look at me expectantly as if I should know what that means. It’s not so very different from when I casually tell my husband, “I’m tired” and then wait for him to suggest I take a nap.

“That’s a problem statement,” I remind Emma. “Is there something you’d like to ask someone to do for you?”

“Can you please get me a snack?” she’ll ask. And naturally, I say yes. I don’t mind helping my daughter, after all, and it’s so much easier to do so when she makes it clear what she’d like from me.

“I’m tired,” I tell Jared, and I’m reminded of the clarification I give Emma. That’s a problem statement. “Would you mind if we shut off the TV and turned down the games so I could take a nap?” And naturally, he says yes. He doesn’t mind helping me, it seems, as long as I have the courage to make it clear what I need from him.

How do you ask for help?

Open your mouth and say the words. Put your fears aside and ask. You’ll be amazed at how willing the world will be to rise up and provide.

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