We all want to help others in need, especially when the person in need is a child. But sometimes, the best way to help people is to stop helping them.
Of course, not helping someone is difficult. Teachers and parents, by nature, are helpers. They don’t want to see children struggle. However, rather than do the task for the other person, have the discipline to back off. A simple question like, “Well, what do you think about that?” or “What do you think we should do?” or “What would you like to see happen?” prompts the person to reflect, entices a solution to a challenge, and even encourages self-discipline.
If you think about it, this approach makes sense. It’s something that mentors and coaches do every day. If you’ve ever worked with a mentor or coach, he or she didn’t help by providing answers. Mentors and coaches help by engaging people to come up with their own solutions.
A solution is—more likely than not—within the ability of the person being assisted. The best way to empower someone may just be to refuse to be a co-dependent. In fact, at times, NOT helping can be the best form of discipline available.
While an answer by someone else may gain a temporary adaptive action or compliance, reflective questions are the source for commitment and long-term corrective action.