Series Part #15: The Skill of Asking for Help
Okay everybody, hands up, unless you are reading this on a hand-held device. Does your child know how to ask for help? Pretend that you are only 4 or 5 years old and just starting kindergarten. It’s a whole new place and many things are unknown and different. Is there a good chance that you will have questions and might feel overwhelmed? That’s what it’s like for kids, and the concern is that some children do not know how to ask for help or information when they need it. Some only have the hands-up meaning from what they have seen on the screen. What does hands-up mean at school?
Even though ‘asking’ uses the same words as ‘telling’, the form of a question is more complicated. This takes some practice and we can help kids by giving them the words and form. For example, if your child is attempting to reach a book we can say, “I see you trying to get that book, but it’s too high. You can ask me to help like this: Can you get that book for me, please? You try it.”
We take it for granted that kids know how to do this, but after years of experience with kids starting in kindergarten, this can be a concern. Not only may they not know or can’t remember, sometimes kids may want to do things by themselves or are reluctant to approach an adult for help. Practice can make this easier.
Adults are often reluctant to ask for help and want to do things independently. Our kids need to see us asking others so they can feel comfortable. These words of advice from Jeff A. Johnson at Explorations Early Learning are a good reminder, “Care-giving and parenting are tough jobs. They require abundant focus and emotional labor. At times, these jobs can seem overwhelming. If you need help, resources, assurance, ideas, direction, information, or any other kind of support ask for it…. A side benefit of asking for help when you need it: it teaches the children in your life that they can do the same.”
Giving kids the words and form for questions when needed and letting them see and hear us asking, will help kids with the skill and strategy of asking for help. Helping each other is a powerful to form friendships and make connections. Is it hard for you to ask for help? How about your child?