Hopeful vs. Hopeless: Empowering Young People by Restoring Hope

“It’s hopeless!”

This is a statement that Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors often hear from the 5,000 young people that reach out to us every week.

Young people today face many pressures. They are under pressure to succeed in school and the workforce, to compete in sports and other extra-curricular activities, and to meet parental and societal expectations.

Often, those pressures can exceed a young person’s ability to cope and, as a result, have a negative effect on their mental health.


“For young people, especially teenagers, goals and problems can seem too big, and solutions seem too far out of reach,” says Alain Johnson, Clinical Director, Kids Help Phone. “Teens tend to see things as black and white – everything can be great until a problem arises, and then their world can feel like it’s crashing down.”
Young people who reach out to Kids Help Phone when they are feeling this way may say that their situation is hopeless, but by reaching out, they are actually showing that they have hope: hope that there is help for the situation they are struggling with.

What does that help look like?

Solving problems and reaching goals happen in layers – there are small steps that need to be taken to get there. When young people contact Kids Help Phone, counsellors help them identify the steps they need to take to get to where they want to be. This leads to young people to feel empowered and their hope becomes restored.

How can parents help their kids be more hopeful?

Everyone struggles, and everyone needs help sometimes. Reaching out to others for support is an important part of coping with life’s many situations. Reminding kids – and ourselves – that it’s okay to ask for that support is also an important step.

Here are some tips to help foster hope in young people:

  • Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, a sign of hope. Reminding a young person of that and letting them know that you are there for them no matter what can help them to build trust, self-esteem, and resiliency.
  • Trusted adults – parents, teachers, and coaches to name a few – can all help to empower young people and give them hope. If a young person comes to you with a problem, remind them that asking for help is a sign of strength.
  • Parents often think that they have to the perfect answer at their fingertips, but sometimes hope can be enough. It can diffuse a situation that seems overwhelming, sometimes better than having a ready solution.
  • Listen without interrupting. This can help a young person to feel understood and reinforce the sense that they are not alone in whatever they may be coping with.
  • Recognize and build on the skills, capabilities and resources that young people already possess.
  • Be hopeful for the young people in your lives. When you believe in young people, it helps them to believe in themselves. An adult’s own outlook influences the youth around them.
  • Encourage independence. When young people are able to take an active role in making decisions that affect them, they learn that they have some control over their environment. In this way, having choices – and the opportunity to try, fail, and try again teaches kids, teens and young adults how to be hopeful.
  • Focus on strengths and skills. When a child is struggling, pointing out the things they are doing well can help them to become hopeful that they will be able to deal successfully with future challenges.
  • Help young people connect with appropriate supports and resources, including, but not limited to, a mental health professional when appropriate.

Remember, if you know a young person who needs help, or if you’d like to stay current with some of the issues young people today are facing, Kids Help Phone is only a click away.

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2 Responses to Hopeful vs. Hopeless: Empowering Young People by Restoring Hope

  1. Soozle says:

    Such a valuable resource for our communities! I think everybody goes through a period in their life where they are struggling with SOMETHING – relationships, self-image, home, work life, etc.. It’s not always easy to talk to a loved one or friend due to embarrassment – that’s why I feel a resource like this is SO important for young people to have – somewhere to reach out to and someone to talk to when maybe there is no one else they can!

  2. Annie1 says:

    Thank you for this most important post! My children have used the phone line in the past and I am so grateful it was there for them.

    RAFFLECOPTER NAME is Anne Taylor

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