Is It OK to Talk to a Teacher About Personal Problems?
Is it OK to talk to your teacher about personal problems? For instance, my
brother's cancer or just general stressful things that are going on in my life? Sometimes
I really want to talk to someone outside of my family about this stuff. My school
doesn't have a counselor, but there are a couple of teachers that I really like and
trust. If I did talk to them, would they think it was weird or unusual? Would they
think it was strange that I was talking to them instead of my parents? – Gabe*
A teacher you like and trust can be just the right person to turn to when
you have a personal problem or situation you want to discuss. This is especially
true if your school doesn't have a counselor. But even if you do have a counselor,
you might find you click better with a teacher. Or you might want to talk to a teacher
as well as a counselor.
It's natural to want someone to know what's going on in your life when things are
stressful. When there's a lot going on at home, plenty of people want to talk
to someone outside the family. Having another adult to share with like this
can make a big difference in how you feel and how you're able to cope.
Letting a teacher know what's happening in your life gives you relief from the
stress of carrying it alone. A teacher can be a sounding board, someone to just listen
— and telling someone about your situation, thoughts, and feelings can sometimes
help you better understand yourself.
A teacher might be able to help you think of things you can do to make your situation
better. If stress is interfering with concentrating on your schoolwork, a teacher
can give you practical advice on things like managing assignments.
A teacher won't think it's strange that you want to talk. In fact, most teachers
would take it as a compliment that you value their support.
How can you approach a teacher to talk? Pick a time before or after class. Say,
"I've got a situation I'm dealing with and I'd really like to talk to you about it.
Is there a good time we could talk?" Most teachers would be happy to meet at lunchtime
or during a free period.
The conversation doesn't have to be long. If you want, you can plan ahead so
you know what you want to say. For example, think about what you want to get
out of the conversation and then let the teacher know. For example:
"I'm having a problem and I need someone to listen as I
think it through." "I need your advice on something." "Can you help me figure out ideas to cope?" "Can you keep this confidential?"
You can end the conversation by saying something like, "Well, I just want to thank
you for listening. It helps."
Here's another reason why it helps to approach a supportive teacher: Reaching
out to the adults in our lives can actually help us be more resilient (better
able to deal with stress and better able to recover quickly from the difficult times).
So talking to teachers is a smart idea for lots of reasons!