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How to Talk to an Adult

How Can Talking to an Adult Help?

If you are facing a problem that you can’t fix on your own, it’s a good idea to ask an adult you trust for help. They can often help you see your problems differently and give you some ideas on how to cope. Talking about your problem with someone might help you feel that you are not alone. Often, just putting your thoughts and feelings into words can help.

Difficult Conversation Checklist

Choose a trusted adult

— Know what you want from the conversation

— Identify how you feel about telling this person

— Practice the words

— Plan the timing

Teacher talks with student at a desk over books

1. Choose the Right Adult

The right adult is someone you TRUST, you feel SAFE around, and is AVAILABLE.

There are lots of choices: a parent, another family member, friend of the family, teacher, school counselor, doctor, coach, neighbor, friend’s parent, chaplain or church leader -- to name a few.

Trust & Confidentiality

You may want the person to keep your conversation confidential, or specifically, you don’t want them to share it with your parents. If a person cares for you, they are likely concerned about your well-being and want you to get the help you need. There are specific laws that govern when it’s OK for professionals to keep your conversations private, and when they are required to break confidentiality.

If this is a big concern for you, it’s best to ask your adult up front if they are willing to keep the conversation private. If they say no, then you can make a decision about talking to someone else. Please don’t let privacy concerns keep you from getting help when you need it.

2. Know What You Want

Know what you want from the conversation. This will help you start the conversation by stating what you need. Here are a few ideas, I want an adult to…

  • Simply listen and understand what I’m going through without offering advice and commentary
  • Give permission or support for something
  • Offer me advice or help
  • Help me get back on track (because I’m in trouble) in a way that’s fair and without harsh criticism or put-downs

3. Identify How You Feel

Think about how the idea of talking with this person makes you feel. It is natural to be nervous, but having uncomfortable feelings doesn’t need to stop you. You can put your feelings into words as part of the conversation.

“Mom, I need to talk to you, but I’m afraid you will be mad.”

“Coach, I need to talk to you about something, but it’s kind of embarrassing.”

4. Practice the Words

Starting the conversation usually goes better if you practice what you want to say. Practice out loud. Hearing yourself say the first few sentences can build your confidence and make it easier to start the conversation. It’s OK to write down what you want to say so you will remember.

If you just can’t talk about yourself directly you could ask for advice about a friend. Once you get the words out it might be easier to admit it’s really about you.

“My friend is having such a hard time with her boyfriend and I need to give her some advice.”

5. Plan the Timing

Timing can make all the difference. It’s best to pick a time when the person is not distracted or busy with something else – such as making dinner, teaching a class, in the middle of practicing, or rushing off somewhere. Taking a walk or driving in the car can be good opportunities to talk.

Revised: Wed, 11/27/2019 - 08:35

How to Talk to an Adult