Help! (a.k.a. Do It For Me)

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.

Workbook Fun

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?



10 thoughts on “Help! (a.k.a. Do It For Me)

  1. These tips are so great. I think all kids have those moments. One thing I have to look out for is helping with the same type of problem (long division, for instance) over and over until the Littles get used to me going through it on the board and forget to learn to do it themselves. When I notice this happening, I have to make myself stop, watch them work through the problem with occasional “What comes next?” prompts. Sometimes it’s hard to draw that line between teacher and mama. As Mama, we want to stop them from having any sort of trouble, but as Teacher we have to harden our hearts a bit to do what’s best for them. Great advice!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely very hard to determine at times! I don’t want my kids to give up because something was too hard for them but yet I do want them to reach that feeling of accomplishment when they are able to tackle something. My kids don’t like to be challenged too much so it’s a fine line. If it is too hard,they do tend to give up. I find just giving them a little nudge helps get them past that daunting and overwhelmed feeling.I have noticed though that if it is something they are truly interested in, they will try harder with or without my help. Sometimes, they don’t have a choice but to wait for my help because my hands are tied elsewhere 🙂 Which comes convenient for the impatient and determined child 😉 Great post!

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  3. I wish there were a subtle way to ask my sister to read this, but from her bad habits of doing everything for my nephew, I learned to not do it all for my son, whom at the time was only 6 (now he is 15 and high honors). I knew that my son may struggle with school work (we didn’t homeschool) but also, I knew with help that he was capable of completing it.
    Book reports down to every day school work, my sister did it all. Now, my nephew is incapable of any school work. He was diagnosed as mentally challenged, two years ago. I honestly believe that if she had challenged him and helped, but not done the work, he may still be able to do more for himself. He was never incapable when he was younger, he just knew how to manipulate the situation to make his Mom do the work for him.
    Always follow the child’s cues to see if they are being lazy or do need just a nudge to get going.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve identified one of the biggest struggles of teaching (besides bureaucratic paperwork). In the classroom, often I let the children struggle their way to an answer (after preparing the way with the tools they’d need). I was OFTEN, daily met with resistance by parents who said, “My child said you wouldn’t help her.” Yep. My years as a teacher definitely help me as a homeschool mom!

    Liked by 1 person

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