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Is Something Bugging You? How to Ask for Help

Did you ever have a problem that was really bugging you? Maybe you wanted to talk it over with your parents, but you were kind of nervous about it or didn't know how to bring it up. That's OK! Everybody feels that way sometimes. Your parents will want you to talk with them so they can help you. When you finally do talk to your folks, I bet you'll be surprised (and relieved) at how well they can handle embarrassing conversations. That's a big part of their job. After all, they're parents!

Here are five steps for what to do:

  1. Try to figure out what's really bothering you. Maybe another kid at school is teasing you, or you don't like something about the way you look. It's OK if you're not sure. It's enough to tell your parents that you're feeling bad and have them help you figure out why.

  2. Practice how you'll say it. If you've ever been in a school play, you know it's important to rehearse your lines. It's the same thing with knowing how to bring up problems. You could practice saying, "Mom, something that happened at school is bothering me. Can we talk about it right now?" But don't worry if it doesn't come out perfect—Mom and Dad won't care! Would you care if a younger brother or sister couldn't find the right words to tell you what was bothering them? Of course not! That's kind of like how mom and dad will feel with you.

  3. Decide whether you want to talk to both your parents together, or just mom or just dad. It's okay to talk to just one of them at first. Then choose when might be a good time to talk. Sometimes you'll want to make sure it's quiet and you're alone. Maybe that's when you're eating dinner together, when one of them is driving you somewhere, or when they come in your room to say good night. Other times it's easier to talk if you're doing something but you don't need 100 percent concentration for it, such as playing catch or cooking together. Of course, if the problem is super-important—like you are hurt or in trouble—you'll need to tell your parents right away and shouldn't wait for an "ideal" time to tell them.

  4. If you have an idea for how your parents can help you, tell them about it and see what they think. It's OK if you don't have an idea—they can help you figure out a way to solve your problem. Or maybe you just want them to listen—that's fine, too.

  5. If you don't feel like talking to Mom or Dad about your problem, talk to someone else who cares about you and who you feel good around. Maybe it's one of your grandparents, a school counselor, a teacher or an aunt or uncle.

One thing's for sure—talking over your problems with someone you trust almost always helps you feel tons better!

Whew! Now that you got that off your chest, learn about: Self-Esteem and You!

Reviewed by the Scientific Advisory Panel, 2006