Imagine that you’re in a public restroom, and when you’re done using the toilet, you realize there isn’t any toilet paper. From inside the stall, you can hear two people chatting and washing their hands at the sink.

Do you ask for help?

If not, you’re not alone. Asking for help, even in this simple, very human situation, can be hard.

One of the key factors in a strong, happy family is the parents’ ability to cope with stress. Stress, as we all know, is inevitable, and can be a result of something unexpected happening.

One of the best ways to cope in these situations is to ask for help.

Sometimes asking for help is tough. You may be worried you’ll hear a “no.” You may believe you shouldn’t have gotten yourself in the position of needing help in the first place. You may believe that dealing with a situation is your responsibility and you shouldn’t burden someone else.

Here’s the thing: everyone needs help, sometimes.

When life hits us with something unexpected and we don’t have what we need to deal with it (whether that’s time, money, energy, or other resources), our brains can become highjacked with the fight, flight, or freeze response. When this happens, we’re more likely to do things that affect us—and our children—negatively.

Humans are wired to be part of a community—and to rely on each other. So when you encounter something unexpected (your car breaks down, one of the kids needs to be picked up from practice early because she’s not feeling well, or you get stuck in a traffic jam on your way to pick up the kids from school), get clear on:

  • What you need (someone else to pick up your kid, to borrow a car, for your spouse to start dinner since you’re running late).
  • Where to find help (is there a friend, family member, or neighbor who can help?).
  • How to ask for help. You can make it easier for yourself to ask for help in the future by preparing a list of who to ask, and how you’ll ask them. State your need clearly and ask directly. That’ll avoid the other person having to guess for what you need or wonder if they should offer help.

Then, ask. And if you encounter obstacles, keep asking.

People love helping, too; studies have shown that being kind and helpful is a mood booster to both parties.

A community is a group of people who help one another to thrive. When you can recognize the need for help—and advocate for it—you’re better able to cope with stress, as you build the social connections of a strong community.

Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit