Life Skills for Teens: How do I get my daughter to ask for what she needs?

How do you help your daughter have the courage to ask for help when she needs it? Well, that's 

our question for today on Tips on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and 

family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families to live happier lives. 

I lead two organizations, Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 three organization Child 

and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump 

onto Facebook Live. Answer your parenting questions. Let's answer today's: "My daughter 

is really struggling in math right now. She has a really great teacher who has told the class 

on numerous occasions that he's available after school to review stuff, and he encourages 

them to ask questions. She won't do it, though. When we ask her why, she says she's afraid or she 

just shrugs. This happens in other situations too. How do we get her over her fear of asking for 

things when she needs them?" I think a lot of families can relate  


to this one. There's a few different ways I want to handle this. Number one is it really also depends 

on how old she is. Is she eleven? Is she 17? The younger she is, she may need her handheld with this 

more. She may need you kind of scheduling it with her teacher. Again, you want her to have the 

self advocacy and the independence do on her own. She may not have that maturity yet, and maybe 

at 17, she still doesn't have that for a number of reasons. And if she's willing to let you help 

her, then I encourage you to help her set the stage. It's not the only thing we can do, but it's 

one thing. also, I think, especially as she gets older, how important is this math class to her? 

Is she really willing to accept the consequences for the poor grade in math? Whatever that's 

A, C and F, whatever you think that is and how that will impact her college or whatever that is, 

if she has a very clear understanding of I don't care about math. I don't want math. I don't need 

math. I'm going to go to community  


college anyway. I hate this class. I just want to get out of it. Is it worth the struggle and the 

fight? I don't know. Obviously, we don't want our kids to avoid struggle. We don't want them 

to avoid adversity. Adversity is a part of life. We want our kids to approach adversity with 

calmness, with strength, with rational thought. We'd like adults to do that as well. We don't 

always do it, but we want to train that ability. Longer term thinking on this, I think it's important 

to help your child develop that sense of self worth and self confidence and empowerment through 

a couple of things. Number one, your praise, and I'm not talking about the praise of good girl 

and pat her on the head. That's not what I'm talking about. Not even talking about acknowledging 

achievements. She got first prize, third prize, or she got an A. It's not about the achievement. 

We can't control achievement. And that's really hard for people to wrap their head around because 

we just focus so much on achievement and  


success. And that's not what we control. We control our effort, we control our attitude, we 

control our determination. Those are things that we can control. And the more you focus on that, 

we start planning to see that that's what they do. For example, your daughter gets an A on a test. 

Instead of saying, hey, congratulations on the A, you say, wow, I can really tell you've been 

studying, you've been really applying yourself. You've been studying a lot harder lately, 

I can tell. I see that in the work you're doing. She can control whether she's studying or not. 

She can control whether she's practicing, giving her all at practice for band or softball or 

whatever it may be. She can control putting effort towards asking for help. But when we focus 

so much on the end result, the achievement, there can be so much weight on that because she's 

measuring herself against everyone else. And no matter what she does possibly in her mind, 

it's not good enough. So since I'll never be at the top, I'm  


not trying at all. And I see a lot of kids get stuck on this because they have this impression that 

they need to be the elite, the best. If they're not number one, then it's all worth for not and 

they should just give up and stop. And that's why I really want you to focus more on not the achievement, 

but the effort and the attitude. Again, you go to her game or her performance, instead of saying 

you did great, talk more about I loved watching you play, I loved watching you perform, I loved 

seeing you have fun. Those are things she can control. Another thing kind of piggyback on that 

is make sure that she has avenues that she enjoys, that she can feel fulfillment, achievement, 

theater, band, sports, robotics. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it is something 

preferably that is somewhat social where she gets enjoyment and creative or physical emotional 

fulfillment out of again, it's a big question and there's not a simple answer for this. Generally 

speaking, kids do as they  


mature, they get a little older and they get a little more seasoned, they get a little more experience 

and they are able to advocate for themselves. But a lot of times kids just need a little help along 

the way. And the way we help is by giving them, giving them our love, our acceptance and recognizing 

their efforts and their attitude over achievements. That's our question for today. Thank 

you very much for sending us your question. If you'd like to have a question answered by me, Kentuzant 

here on Tips on teens. Email us at tips on or you can direct message 

us right here on Facebook. We love your questions. Thank you so much from Teen Therapy Center 

and Child Teen Counseling. This is Kent Toussaint, and I'll see you next week. Bye. 


If your kid is struggling to self advocate, don’t despair! Self advocacy is one of those life skills for teens that most parents become concerned with at some point. Don’t worry though! As your kid matures and gets more experience, self advocacy is likely to come. But sometimes they need help on the way. The way we do that is through love and acceptance and recognizing their attitude and effort over performance.


One way we can do this is by building our kid’s confidence through praise. But we’re not talking about “goldstar-pat-on-the-back-great job” kind of praise. We’re talking about praising their effort and attitude over the result. This means to focus on praising the things your kid has control over, like their attitude and their effort. Example: instead of saying “great job on that history test,” you say, “wow, you studied so much for that,” etc.


We don’t want kids to avoid adversity. In developing life skills for teens, there’s a way to help your kid face challenges with strength and rationality, and we approach the topic in this Tips on Teens

“My daughter is really struggling in Math right now. She has a really great teacher who has told the class on numerous occasions that he’s available after school to review stuff, and he encourages them to ask questions. She won’t do it though! When we ask her why she says she’s afraid or she just shrugs. This happens in other situations too. How do we get her over her fear of asking for things when she needs them?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.