Nov. 28, 2022

Ask Margaret: Should I Help My Kids with Things I Know They Can Do Themselves?

Do you worry that your kids are headed towards learned helplessness if you do too many things for them on the regular? Margaret explains you can reciprocate the help your kids give you around the house without letting them off the hook too easily.

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Does your kid ask you to make their breakfast or do their laundry despite the fact that they know how to do these things? Where's the line between lending them a hand and waiting on them hand and foot?

Listener Lindsay asks:

"Talk to me about how you field requests from your kids to “help them” with things they’re old enough to do themselves. Like my 12 year old’s constant requests to make her breakfast, or my 6 year old who will often ask me to go fetch things for her that she forgot elsewhere in the house. I will often decline and tell them that they can do these things themselves… but then I wonder — couldn’t they say the same thing to me when I ask them for help? They’re always very willing to help me when I ask, and I know they are probably looking at these requests of me in the same light. How do I reciprocate their willingness to help me without teaching them learned helplessness? "

There's no hard-and-fast rule for how much your kids should be doing around the house. As long as you contextualize the scenarios where you help for your kids, there's no harm in sometimes doing things for them if they're bogged down with homework or having a rough day.


Children's Hospital of Philadelphia blog: "Chores and Kids: How Much Should You Expect?"

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