A teenage boy sitting on the path up against a wall talking to his friend who is kneeling by his side.

A good friend can make all the difference.

Listening is helping

You may be nervous or uncertain about supporting a friend who is going through a hard time in case you say the wrong thing. It is natural to feel like this – and it is ok to not know how to ‘fix’ something that is on your friend’s mind. Just being there for them can be really helpful. Listening is helping and can have a big impact.

Top Tips for Listening

There are lots of simple ways to practice being a good listener.

Ask open questions – Try and ask open questions instead of asking questions that only need a yes or no answer. Questions using ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’ and ‘why’ can help with this.

Reflecting – Sometimes by just repeating back a word or phrase someone has said can encourage them to expand and open up about their thoughts and feelings.

Clarifying – Sometimes a friend can gloss over an important point when they are talking. Saying something simple like ‘tell me more about that’ can help explain the point for you – and for them also.

Summarising – Summarise what the person has said and say it back to them. This helps show the person that you have been listening to them and understand their feelings.

Words of encouragement – Even simply saying ‘go on’ or ‘I see’ can help the person continue talking and tell their story. Being aware of your body language and things like making eye contact and smiling can help your friend feel more comfortable.

Reacting – It can be important to show you’ve understood the situation your friend is going through. If they are having a tough time, simply acknowledging that – ‘you’ve had an awful time’ – can help to show empathy and kindness.

Empathy – Put yourself in your friend’s shoes and imagine how you would feel in their situation.


All of these listening skills help show empathy and kindness and can help you to listen without judgment while respecting and understanding the other person’s point of view.

Mind yourself, too

You might feel drained or exhausted after providing support to a friend if they are going through a really tough time. It is important to mind yourself and take care of your own mental wellbeing too. Make time for yourself to do the things that make you feel good.

Support is here for both of you

Remember Childline is always here to listen and support you. We are here for you 24 hours a day, every day, on the phone, online and by text. You can talk with Childline about anything on your mind.

You can always let your friend know that they can contact Childline too.

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