TIP #9: When Well-Intentioned Help Isn’t Helpful

TIP #9 When Help Isn't Helpful

As parents or teachers, we’ve all done it, and probably more than once. We’ve allowed our well-intentioned ‘help’ to get in the way of a child’s learning. Sometimes well-intentioned help isn’t helpful.

It can be almost painful to watch a child struggle with a task or project when we know how easy it would be to just quickly ‘do it for them’.

But we need to tread carefully here. Our well-intentioned help may come from a desire to speed up the process, avoid a potential mess, or protect the child from feeling the discomfort of a mistake. But we can end up doing more harm than good if we’re not careful.

Years later, I still remember a former art teacher of mine stopping at my desk, looking at my painting, and asking, “Do you mind?”, as she took the brush from my hand to ‘fix’ an area I had been struggling with. Even after finishing that painting, I never again felt like it was really my own.

We never know what kids will remember after they leave our class. But if we focus on encouraging them, equipping them, and believing in them, those memories will serve them well.

For more ways to help your students succeed, check out my blog post titled, How to Draw Out the Very Best Artwork from Your Students.

an inspiring quote:

“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”  ~ Maria Montessori 

Physician, educator, and innovator, Maria Montessori knew a thing or two about how to help kids learn! I agree wholeheartedly with not doing for kids what they can do for themselves, but I would take it a step further.

The confidence and self-esteem that kids feel when they work hard and persist to master a new skill are priceless. Of course, this is not to suggest we should never step in and help. However, we should carefully consider if it’s really in the child’s best interest before we do.

a question worth considering:

When has someone offered well-intentioned ‘help’ to you that wasn’t helpful?