Healthy Dependence vs. Enabling

“When am I helping my child too much and when should I step back?
“Am I enabling my  child by providing help with homework or other responsibilities?”

Parents, as well as teachers, often struggle with this conflict.  Understanding that children will do well if they can and that all children possess the natural human drive for mastery will help to resolve this conflict.  My advice to parents?  If your child is struggling, chances are demands are exceeding the capacities he possesses right now.  Work with him to complete certain tasks, rather than doing the work for him.  We all learn new tasks by watching others or by collaborating with someone who has more skill.  Why should this process be any different for learning new academic concepts or completing tough assignments?

The truth is, when you don’t provide support for tasks that are over your child’s head, you run the risk of disabling him.  If you insist your child complete his work independently when he is not ready developmentally, how is he going to make sense of this struggle? Most children will assume that if they are experiencing difficulty, somthing must be wrong with them.  This is not the belief parents want their children to internalize about themselves.  This belief not only undermines a child’s confidence in his ability to learn, but it also contributes to feelings of frustration, anxiety and discouragement, which further interfere with learning.

Healthy dependence promotes independence in children.  If we teach our children how to approach difficult tasks and guide them through the learning process, ultimately they will acquire the necessary skills and be able to do their work on their own.

Have you found ways to decide when to let your child learn on  their own and when to help them?

 

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