Thursday, February 13, 2014

I Could Do That For You, But I Won't

I say something similar to that to my students nearly every day. Especially the younger ones. Why? Because most of them would rather sit right there and let me, or someone else, do it for them. I can't imagine from where this willingness to let others do for them stems.

Oh, wait. Yes I can. Mostly, it stems from home. And I get it. It is, often, easier to just do things for your kids. It saves time and frustration for the parent. I understand being a parent. I understand being tired. When the lovelies were growing up I had a conversation with someone about surgeries. I told them the main reason I feared being put to sleep was that I might never wake up because I was so tired. So I do understand.

But doing everything for a child does nothing good for the child. Not that I can see anyway.

Here's the amazing thing: once the students in my classes (k-5) understand that I am not going to do it for them and that the reasons that I'm not going to do it for them, the students, wait for it themselves. Wow.

My fear is, if we don't start making the kids do things for themselves and use those wonderful brains of theirs, we're really going to be in for it when they grow up. Some people might believe that this all changes when these kids become adults, but it doesn't. At least, not for most of them.

When a child needs help, help them. When a child is asking because he/she wants you to do it for them so they don't have to exert the energy or do the thinking, don't. It's that simple. And, YES. It's quite easy to tell the difference.

I had someone not too long ago tell me that a student couldn't do something. I was told the student wasn't capable (not the exact words). However, once I sat beside her and asked her questions that prompted her to think about what to do, she WAS able to do it. And she is able to do her work by herself all the time now. Imagine that. Sometimes, for all of us, it's a matter of slowing down and thinking for a minute.

I've seen, over the years, the occasional teacher who will just do something for a student based on mom or dad saying their child is 'slow.' I know that there are special needs children out there. But, when someone isn't a special needs child, let's let them do their own thinking and their own work. Otherwise, they are not going to learn it. AND, they might just grow up with some resentments when they figure out why they can't do anything. I've even seen the student sitting next to that child reach over and do it for them.

So we talk a lot about using our own brains in my class. We talk about how our brains need exercise just like our bodies do. We talk about how when we do the work for our friends, that our brains will get tired and our friends' brains will get lazy.

I've experienced this in my own life. When I was growing up I was told that there were certain activities/chores/etc.that I couldn't do (and playing linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys was only one of the many). A lot of these things were activities and such that other people did just fine on a daily basis. Even after I got married I would hear things like, "Let him do that. You shouldn't have to do that." What? I STILL can't cut the grass. Sheesh.

Now, that's not to say that there aren't things I don't (or won't) do but that's because I don't want to. Not because I'm unable. And yes, I did get over it. But that's because I have a rebellious spirit and have always (ALWAYS) done exactly what people told me not to or that I couldn't do. And the things that I was told I couldn't do were probably based on an old fashioned gender issue.

Today, kids are not being told anything. All they have to do is sit there and wait and, eventually, someone will come and do it for them. Heck, that person might even decide the kid is 'slow' when, in fact, the kid is way smarter than the person doing the job for him or her. I mean, who's sitting there not having to do anything and who's doing the work?

Have y'all seen this happening in your neck of the woods?


  1. I am so very glad to see this post. I agree 100%. It concerns me greatly. From what I have witnessed firsthand in parenting, it boils down to being afraid to be 'the bad guy' - to make children do what it is that they should be doing on their own. So not only do we have a whole host of children grown into adults that not only expect to not have to do anything but to not have to follow directives. I would not want to have to be a manager in a store or other business and deal with this kind of mentality.

    Great post.

  2. So far, at the age of five, Mia is VERY independent and WANTS to do it all for herself, once she is's hoping it continues...:)JP

  3. I have definitely noticed this a lot. Some kids are just so used to pretending that they're incapable, manipulating someone else to do things for them. And it usually works (unless they're around me). And if indulged enough, they *will* become incapable. Really a shame. How can kids feel any self esteem if they're never encouraged to do hard things for themselves.

  4. CLR- Thanks!It saddens me, for the children and our future, that some parents are raising their little ones in this way. I have no idea how to make them see that they are doing more harm than good.

    JP- Oh yes! I can see it in her face! :)

    Judy- Yes! That's what I'm talking about. It's such a shame. All I can do is make sure they don't get away with that in my class as well as encourage them that they CAN do it.

  5. I think we are already well into a generation of people who are happy to sit back and let someone else "do it" for them. That's why so many are on welfare. We have raised a generation of adults who think they are "entitled" to the latest and greatest and are happy to take, take, take. Whew. Soap box. We have dumbed down America, so 'kids' can feel good about themselves. Everyone gets a trophy, whether they scored or not.

    I was blessed to have parents who gave me chores to do at home, and who wouldn't let me take the car out by myself until I could change a tire, check the oil, and knew what to do in an emergency. No cell phones back then. We put a dime in our shoe so we could make a phone call if we were stranded without a wallet. I started life on my own knowing how to cook, clean and do laundry. But I'm also in my 60s. It is different now, and that is so sad.

  6. You really think about things. I always read you and sit back and think and decide I wish you had written this when I was in the midst of raising kids.
    I do think I did too much for them when they were at home.
    I see those mistakes but I am glad they have enough sense to figure things out.
    You really need to write a book on parenting. You really are a great thinker.

  7. Terri- "...dumbed down America." You're quite right about that! It is different now. And I get that. But I don't think that raising lazy kids is a good thing regardless.

    Kim- Hahahahha! You're so funny. Write a book on parenting. What I have are opinions and I don't mind spouting them. LOL Thanks!

  8. I read parts of this to my husband just now. What a difference in the past few years. I don't think I would have the patience to be a teacher now! KUDOS to you my friend!


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