Normally, I love helping my kids. I help them cook, clean, learn new skills, and have fun with them. The one time I won’t help them is when they aren’t really asking for help, they are looking to get out of work.
Our kids are usually pretty good about doing their lessons; most of the time. However, every once in a while, these kiddos decide they just don’t want to do the work and would rather try to con mom into giving them the answer instead. It can be hard to determine whether they actually need help or are just being lazy. What’s a mom to do?
Look and Observe – While this might seem like a silly answer, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to remind the others to stop handing out answers before actually looking at the work in front of the person asking. If we just ‘hand out’ answers without looking at the work first, how are we to know if the child actually needs help or not?
It’s New – Once I look at the work, I need to determine whether or not this is a new skill. If so, of course they are going to want help. Sometimes they need the help and sometimes they are merely intimidated by the newness and want me to tackle it for them. I will walk them through the problem and guide them to finding the answer for themselves. More than likely, they’ll also see additional practice in this area over the next few weeks, just to make sure we master this skill set.
It’s Been a While – Especially after several weeks off (during holiday months), coming back to book work can be a challenge. While these skills may have been taught in the past, it’s been a while and my kids could use a little help with review. I won’t give them the answers, but I will walk them through the process and guide them to the answer. Additional work over the course of the week might also be an option.
It’s a Lot – Yeah, they know how to do the work; trust me. However, the problems staring them in the face are daunting. The thought of having to work through ten long division problems just isn’t appealing (and why would it be). When this concern hits us, I weigh the skill being taught. If this is a skill they’ve done many times, I will usually reduce the amount to be done and watch as they work through the rest. If it’s new, I sit next to them and we walk through all of them with lots of encouragement from mom.
They’re Being Lazy – It happens, even with my kids. The kids have decided they don’t want to do their lessons and figure if they nag mom enough she’ll give in and, in frustration, pick up the pencil to show them how easy it is to work the problem. (It’s been known to happen. Sad, I know.) Sure, I could let it slide and let them do the work another day or pick up the pencil and do the work for them, as mentioned, but what would this teach them? Our kids need to learn that not all work is easy. There are going to be days when we don’t want to finish the work, but that is part of maturing. At that point, the lesson is no longer about the work in front of them, but about teaching them diligence and good work ethic. I will encourage them, but finish the work they will and without me writing the answers in for them!
I Help – Let’s face it, at times we all need help. If the help needed isn’t a matter of shirking responsibility, mommy is more than willing to help. All they have to do is ask!
As parents we want to help our children. Sometimes helping our children means teaching them to help themselves, gaining independence and confidence. I will help our children, if I can, but I won’t do their work for them.
Time to Chime In: How do you determine the difference between your kids needing help and them trying to shirk responsibility?