Why Do We Help?
It’s almost our job. Help. It’s a natural part of living in a family, of life in community, or classroom life — we depend on and assist one another.
Adult-to-child, helping is one of the ways we express love and support for this small human, learning everything and growing daily. In infancy, they depend on this help for nearly everything, and as they reach school-age, our help is incrementally less necessary.
As a child grows, the help becomes less overt — less dressing and feeding — and more supportive — a hug or a listening ear. It never ends, though. Even as adults, we often look to parents and elders for advice, help, support.
But why do we help? We thought we’d explore a few of the reasons we help young children in this post and in the podcast that follows. Scroll to the bottom if you’re interested in listening!
The help we provide to young children could generally fall under three umbrellas — out of love, out of habit, out of necessity.
Those teensy shoes, that scraped knee, those tears, we help tie and kiss and wipe away out of love. No one can make it better like a parent can. It is an act of love to cut up food into tiny bite size pieces, or to tie shoes a hundred times. The help we provide is an expression of the outpouring of love we feel for our little ones.
“No one can make it better like a parent can.”
In the same way we put on tiny socks and buttoned tiny coats and pulled on tiny mittens out of love, it becomes a habit. We find ourselves helping, doing things for a child who has grown into being so capable of these activities herself, merely out of our own muscle memory.
It’s become second nature to bend down and tie shoes for a child, we need that casual reminder from her, “I can do it myself.”
And with that reminder, comes the spotlight on how much she has grown. That, in fact, the help we’re providing, isn’t quite so helpful. These are the moments we’re reminded to sit on our hands, to bite our tongues, to watch and wait and encourage silently.
Another way help naturally emerges is from necessity. I know you can put your own shoes on but we’re in a rush. Just too tired to button your own coat and frustration is just on the edge of that button. You’ve spilled a couple gallons of water and the look in your eyes tells me you feel this is insurmountable.
In any one of these situations, the help is what is required. For the child, for development, for relationship-building, for the path to success.
Written by:Charlotte Wood