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Talking About Problems

two teens talkingTalking to someone you trust is a good thing to do if you are worried, scared or don’t know what is bothering you.

It can be scary to ask for help, especially if you think it means sharing a secret or getting someone else in trouble.

A good way to decide if you should talk about a feeling or problem is to ask yourself these questions:

  • If I don’t get help, will someone get hurt, including me?
  • Will the problem get bigger if it isn’t solved?
  • Is the problem really worrying me?
  • Am I having trouble sleeping or am I crying a lot?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you should talk to someone you trust about the problem. They can help you make a plan to solve it.

Talking about things can help you figure out what to do. But how do you start?

Getting started

Go through this list and do as many as you can. If you don’t know the answer, that’s OK. Keep going and answer as many as you can.

  • Can you name the feelings you are having?
    • You could write the feelings down and make a list or just list them in your head.
    • You can look at the Feelings Poster (link) to help you name how you are feeling.
  • Can you say how often you feel like this?
  • Can you say if you feel like this just for part of the day or all day?
  • Do you feel this way before certain things happen, like going to recess or the gym, or before a certain class?
  • Does the feeling come after a certain event, like when adults have problems or you fight with a friend?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping because of feelings you are having? o If you do, is it every night or just sometimes?
  • Do these feelings only happen at home? At school?
  • Do these feelings happen with a certain friend or group?

If you can figure out the answers to these questions, it may help you talk about the problem. If you don’t know the answers or it seems like a lot of questions, you can go ahead and ask for help anyway. You don’t need to know all the answers!

Who to talk to

  • Talk to somebody you trust, or somebody you are comfortable with. This could be a parent, brother or sister, friend, other family member or a teacher or counsellor.
  • You might know another person who can help, and that’s good too. So long as you are comfortable and feel safe with them.
  • The person you talk to should be helpful. If you know someone who has helped you before, try to talk to them.

How to talk about your feelings

  • Find a quiet, private spot so that you can talk to someone without worrying if anyone else will hear you.
  • If it’s hard to start talking, you can write something down and give it to them. You could even draw or find pictures or put stickers on a piece of paper to get started.
  • Try to give examples of what’s bothering you so that they really understand.
  • Sometimes, pretending your “friend” has this problem makes it easier to talk.

What to talk about

  • Tell the person as much as you can about what is bothering you.
  • If it’s hard to talk about the problem, let the person know you’re having a hard time. They can help by asking questions and letting you answer.
  • Try not to leave anything out, even if you think it might get someone in trouble.
  • You can go to the Stress Hacks for Kids: Feelings part of this website and make a Feelings Booklet from the guide there. This can help you to talk about your concern.

What if someone gets in trouble because I talked to somebody? Even if you’re worried about getting someone in trouble, you need to talk to somebody about your problems. Here’s why:

  • Sometimes people do things that break rules or laws. If they’ve done something bad, telling somebody can help keep others safe.
  • Sometimes people have trouble making good choices, for many reasons.
  • Telling somebody about the problem doesn’t mean you made the problem happen – it’s not your fault!
  • Everyone needs to be safe and get the help they need.

Remember, it’s better to get help than to feel bad about something. There might be more parts to the problem than you can solve on your own – it’s always better to have others help you out.