my daughter (8) thinks being kind is doing everything for her - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 11-03-2011, 07:20 PM - Thread Starter
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ok ladies, help me with this one.  I'm working on "honor" and "respect" in our family.  Saying things like, "In our family, we help each other out".... and "In our family, we talk to each other with kindness" it in a book somewhere.  ANyways, we had an incident when her sister's arms were full and sister could not open the door.  So I said to dd1, please go open the door for your sister.   She shoots back, "She can do it herself."  So I give her a talking to about helping our family etc.

So fast forward 10 minutes and she is sitting on the couch.  "Mom, could you get me some kefir", which I don't mind getting her a snack once in a while, but she really would have me do EVERYTHING for her if I would.  SO then she says, "MOm, would you put my clothes away for me?"  And then uses, "In our family, we help each other."

SO how do I explain that helping each other does not mean DOING EVERYTHING for each other.  I'm frustrated. 

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#2 of 4 Old 11-03-2011, 09:02 PM
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My son wants me to do everything for him too. (He is 8.) But I don't, and often find myself explaining that when he was little and we HAD to do everything for him, then we did, but now he's 8 and can do so much more.


Also, sometimes I say "My doing that for you actually wouldn't be helping you; it would help to hold you back." We often talk about how sometimes when I say I won't help him with something, it's because I know he can do it and he needs to feel the satisfaction of solving or doing the difficult thing himself. But that if he truly NEEDS my help of course I will. As an example, after half a second of trying, "Mom can you help me open this candy? I can't get it open." No, I am not going to open his Halloween candy for him; for heavens sake. But I will tell him that it looks like a "pull the sides apart" bag, or it looks like one that you need to rip with your teeth, and if he's tried all sorts of things and can't do it, I will help, but usually by then he's done it himself. Especially with an only child it's easy to do too much for our kids and then they end up feeling that they don't have the competence to do things for themselves.


I got off track there for a minute. But what I mean is, I don't run and do everything for him, but occasionally I *DO* do something for him that I know he has the capacity for. Such as "Mom, can you get me a drink?" Sometimes I say "sure" because I want to show him kindness, and it doesn't involve me preventing him from growing in competence or anything. I'm happy to get him things from time to time. Other times, if I'm busy, I'll say No, sorry, I'm busy, you'll have to get it yourself.


Here's another thought. I have a feeling that kids are used to us parents asking for their "help" when we really don't need it. You know, when we're trying to "teach them to be responsible." Forced help. Help with a hidden agenda. Insincere, I think. They know we don't need their help and that we are trying to get them to do something for some other reason. So they do it back.


I have had this experience with my son. When I'm asking for "your-just-a-kid-and-I-need-to-teach-you-to-be-helpful" kinds of help, I get all sorts of resistance and whining. But when I seriously DO need help, and ask him honestly, he rushes to help. He's not a jerk about it. Like if I'm struggling with groceries and need the door held, or my arms are full and I drop something and need it picked up.


I think kids have real good b.s. detectors and can detect manipulation and hypocrisy a mile away. The only problem is, the way they tend to SHOW us that they've caught on to our tactics is usually not with a clear, rational tends to manifest itself as "bad behavior" and we often don't connect the dots.


Just my opinion, anyway.

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#3 of 4 Old 11-03-2011, 09:03 PM
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I would tell her that you are helping her by teaching her how to do take pride in her belongings and putting work before play.  Or something playful about how she is learning to do her own laundry so her friends don't laugh when they see you folding her underpants.  You could also say that she is right and that she is helping you not get to worn out from doing things for others that they can do for themselves to make dinner. 


If playful doesn't work then I suggest asking her why she thinks you asked her to help out when her sisters hands were full and to brainstorm times when help is truly needed versus times when help is desired but might be a burden on others.  At eight she is more than old enough to understand this issue with very little guidance if she truly doesn't already.  She may just be playing at humor that is going above your head.  My dd is also eight and she definitely gets the distinctions around this topic but she also says things like that to playfully get help (probably because I tend to do a lot of playful things as a parent. 

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#4 of 4 Old 11-04-2011, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for your responses.  I'll work on these conversations.  It is really hard for me bc she seems really self-absorbed and oblivious to other's needs. 

When we went to bed last night, I asked her if there was anything she wanted to change about the day, and I half expected her to say something along the lines of helping her sister or the other time she got in trouble and she said, 'You would get me a hamster."  The whole thing seemed to go right over her head.  I am trying to teach her empathy.  Her teacher says she is a sweetheart in class and very helpful, so I'm not sure what the disconnect at home is. 

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