Your 12-year-old once again forgot her gym clothes, so you take them to school for her because you don’t
want her to have to miss out.
Your 6-year-old knows how to tie his shoes, but you do it for him anyway because it just won’t take as long.
Your 3-year-old bursts into tears every time you asked her to pick up her toys before bedtime, so you do it
for her because you don’t want to deal with it anymore.
Does any of this sound familiar?
If you’re a parent—sure!
After all, being a parent comes with that innate need to fix things for our children. We don’t want them
to be unhappy or feel left out. Seeing those big eyes fill with tears, those little hands struggle with tying a
knot, or the disappointed look on their faces when they feel socially isolated stabs us right to the heart.
The problem is, when we do too much for our children, we take away something crucial from them:
Instead of aiding them, we disable them. Instead of teaching them how to function, we teach them how
to be helpless.
Why Fixing Things for Your Child Is Counterproductive
The worst thing about always fixing things for your child—it becomes a never-ending cycle. You jump in,
time and again, and they come to rely on you. They never learn how to do things for themselves, and so,
you jump in to help them once again. It’s perpetual.
You’re over-functioning, and they’re under-functioning.
Aside from that you perhaps have a low tolerance for your child’s pain and you can’t bear watching them
struggle with problems, you may also feel more comfortable addressing other people’s issues than
grappling with your own. You’re “Mister/Misses Reliable”—you have it all together and are quick to take
action. That’s a good trait, right?
It is if you use it for your own life. But when you consistently handle other people’s responsibilities—
including your child’s (no matter how old they are)—it does more harm than good.
While you may be under the impression that you’re just a good parent and just helping out, you
unwittingly cause your child to take a passive role in their life.
Eventually, they expect you to fix their issues for them all the time, and you do. Until you start to feel
burnt out, perhaps wondering why your now-adult-child seems to have no clue how to handle life.
It won’t be easy, but before you get to that point, it’s important to honestly ask yourself, “Am I doing too
much for my child?”
How to Stop Fixing Things for Your Child
It might seem overwhelming to just stop jumping in and handling issues for your child. And you
certainly don’t want to go to the other extreme and be neglectful.
So, what can you do?
You can start with baby steps, being a responsible parent but not jumping to the rescue at the first sign
of “trouble.” Start with one thing and step back, allowing your child to struggle a bit with a situation.
For instance, if they come to you for help, instead of immediately taking action, just listen to them and
ask them what they think they could do. Even if it takes a little bit of time, lead them to a resolution by
asking questions instead of giving it to them.
It won’t be easy to stand back and let your child figure it out by themselves. You’ll still be there for them,
but you have to learn to soothe your inner need to fix things right then and to counter the temptation to
handle the matter for them.
The reward will be that you will see your child become a competent and confident individual.
If you would like to learn more about raising responsible children or being a positive and effective
parent, please contact us.