Has it ever happened that while your little girl struggles to tie her laces, you quickly do it for her, because it’s faster and easier? Or when your son yawns because the homework is boring, you volunteer to finish it for him. If you are helping your child through every difficulty she faces, you might be setting up a trap for you both. A trap which is called ‘learned helplessness’.
As parents, it hurts to see our child struggling with small things like making a bed, completing a project or arranging a cupboard. So, instead, we offer to do it for them. Although it saves us time today, we enter a viscous cycle of a provider and a recipient, which will leave us burnt out and bitter in the future.
The over supporting parents
The root of the problem lies with the parents who are too supportive of their children. These parents, while struggling with the anxiety of seeing their child’s failure, choose to provide help at every instance. As a result of this, the child never gets the chance to test the waters and discover his abilities. He is too comfortable to laze around while Mummy does the job.
Years later, the same child transforms into an adult who does not stick to a job, may get involved with drugs or alcohol and ends up in a relationship where he asks too much of his partner.
The underachieving children
Sadly, when caring parents take the challenges out of their child’s life, they also remove the chances to learn from mistakes.
If the scattered clothes in her room disappear while she is playing and her homework gets done while she sleeps, will she not depend on this luxury completely? This habit soon turns to over dependence on the parent and the child becomes underachieving.
She takes the world for granted because everything gets done without her even raising a finger. Later, when the time comes to leave the house and get a job, she becomes too scared to move out, while her well meaning parents are now too exhausted to take care of her.
The cycle, which parents start unknowingly, leads them into trouble years later. Therefore, it is necessary that you identify the signs early.
Signs that your child is depending too much on you:
- If your child ‘tends’ to be forgetful and careless with things that require effort, like completing an assignment at school, remembering to take books for her math class, etc.
- If she loves to sleep in when a work needs to be done, assuming her normal sleeping pattern is not disturbed.
- If he has excuses ready whenever you raise the topic of a pending work.
- If she fights, shouts or engages in resistant behavior when asked to finish an incomplete task.
An action plan to stop the cycle:
If your child is exhibiting these signs, chances are that you are being an intruder in his normal growth and development. Here are some steps that you should take in the direction:
- Stop immediately Let him clean his room, complete the assignment and arrange his books on his own.
- Be prepared for a revolt: Your child may whine, cry, threaten, make you feel guilty and do anything in his power to make you change your mind. Do not give in.
- Explain why you are doing this: Tell her that you want her to grow up as a responsible adult and not as someone who is scared of everything.
- Resist the sugar coated talk: Your child may also do the opposite. He may make you feel needed and wanted by using words like, “you do it so much better than I do” or “I depend on you, please don’t leave me hanging in the middle.”
I know a parent, especially a mother, feels elated when she supports her child. To see her child in a difficult situation, or worse, struggling, is a sight she would want to avoid at all cost. But, keep in mind that every help offered robs her of a chance to grow up, a chance that every child deserves to turn into a responsible and fully functioning adult.
What are some things you might be doing now or have done in the passed that perhaps your littles ones could be learning to do for themselves? Do you have any tips or tricks to convince them to do these things? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below