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when helping hurts


Stashed in: #kindness, Children, Awesome, Compassion, education, Psychology!, Parents, Parenting

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That illustration is excellent.

Lesson: Resist the urge to help unless the person truly needs it.

Calibrate the help to complement not substitute the recipient's effort.

See a paper published in February in the American Sociological Review. The study, led by the sociologist Laura T. Hamilton of the University of California, Merced, finds that the more money parents spend on their child’s college education, the worse grades the child earns.

separate study, published the same month in the Journal of Child and Family Studies and led by the psychologist Holly H. Shiffrin at the University of Mary Washington, finds that the more parents are involved in schoolwork and selection of college majors — that is, the more helicopter parenting they do — the less satisfied college students feel with their lives.

Why would parents help produce these negative outcomes? It seems that certain forms of help can dilute recipients’ sense of accountability for their own success. The college student might think: If Mom and Dad are always around to solve my problems, why spend three straight nights in the library during finals rather than hanging out with my friends?

By the way, this is true not just for parents helping children but for anyone helping anyone.