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STOP DOING THAT FOR YOUR KIDS: I wrote this a few years ago, but I was reading it today and wanted to share it again.   It is always a good reminder.   ENJOY… 

stop doing that for your kids
We want to do so much for our kids, but today I want to tell you to STOP doing that for your kids because you are doing more harm than good… honestly!

No matter how many children we have: one or ten, we need to know when we are doing too much for them.  We need to empower our kids to be independent when they can be, so they will grow up to be responsible adults.

Yes, I do things for them.♥  I’m happy to, in fact.  I get their shoes when they are running late, I make their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks every day.  I do things just because I love them and I want them to know that.   I want them to know that I am their mom and for that reason alone, I will always be there to help them and do kind things for them.   However… I also want them to know how to be responsible for themselves.

It is a fine line and it is a HARD line to walk.  When do you do it for them and when do you stop doing that for your kids?

A few weeks ago, our son had some friends over… less than a handful of his closest friends.   We went out to eat and then we came back home and had their snack at our house (it was a little birthday gift for our son).   That night, my eyes were opened. The kids ate dinner and had a ball!   They came home and ate their snack like they had never eaten dinner (haha!)

Then it happened.

You see, one of his friends that came that night comes from a  different background than our kids.   He comes from a house with MANY children and a single mom raising them all on her own.   This friend doesn’t have all of the luxuries that our kids are used to.

His mom worked many jobs and when she is home, she is taking care of more than ten children on her own.  She doesn’t have the time to cater to their every need, honestly.  She isn’t able to clean up after them or fold all of their clothes.   She isn’t able to give him everything that he asks for (monetary & attention), because she is providing for many other children and working several jobs when she is not at home.

Something happened that made me open my eyes.

I said “Hey, guys, when you are done with your snacks, just leave your plates on the table and I’ll get it.  You can go play before you have to go home.” Now, I have taught our kids to clean up after themselves, but if they forget, I remind them.

If they forget, I even (shhh….) clean up after them, at times.   If they forget, I help. So, back to the story… I had just finished giving these directions, about leaving their plates on the table, when five kids (including my own children) finished eating, got up and ran back outside.   They happily left their plates, forks, cups, and napkins for me to clean up.

Don’t get me wrong- I love these kids because they are all very sweet.  They are kind, considerate kids and they were doing what I asked. They all did this, except one… The one little boy that I mentioned earlier. He brought his plate over to the sink and he said to me “Miss Becky?  Ma’am?   I am used to washing my own things.”

He then walked over to the sink to wash his plate.  I stopped him and took over, but in that moment I thought about my own kids and I realized…

I told myself…

When you take over for our kids, because they are young and it is EASIER…
you are doing more harm than good.

When you clean up their rooms for them because they are young and it is EASIER…  you are doing more harm than good. 

When you let their manners slip this one time, because they are young and it is EASIER…  you are doing more harm than good.  

When you make their beds for them, because they are young and it is EASIER…  you are doing more harm than good.

When you let them get away with “Just ok” work, instead of what we know they are capable of, because they are young and it is EASIER…  you are doing more harm than good.  

Think about the future: 

  • Do we want them to rely on their college roommates to wash their plates?
  • Do we want our sons to become husbands that rely on their wives to clean for them?
  • Do we want them to lose their jobs because they are used to someone helping them all of the time, reminding them of their responsibilities, following behind them to tell them what to do next?
  • What happens when our children, that didn’t do their best on homework when they were young, become adults that don’t do their best work for their jobs?

We teach our children to do chores.  They unload the dishwasher every day.  They clear their plates after dinner and put them in the dishwasher.   They make their beds (well, some of our kids do) in the morning, normally after I have reminded them.   They put away their clothes, after I wash them, fold them and take them to their rooms. They have real chores, from the chore basket.

I can’t say that they don’t do them, because they do…. However, there are many times when I just do these things for them, because they are young and it is EASIER to just do it for them…  but now I realize that and I am  doing more harm than good.

Are you? I also have a post about Raising Responsible Adults (I often re-read my own posts as little reminders to myself)…  I read it tonight.

Here is a sneak peek: THE ONE RULE FOR RAISING YOUR CHILD TO BE A RESPONSIBLE ADULT IS TO REMEMBER TO  let them make mistakes now to prevent them later.   Feel empathy for them, not anger.  Teach them by showing them through their mistakes.

An example of this:  If your kids leave their toys around (and they are old enough to know that they need to be put away), tell them that the next time they leave them out, you will have to take them for a day.   Here’s the kicker… YOU ACTUALLY NEED TO DO THIS!   Read more of that post here.

What do you think?  Do you do find yourself doing things for your kids, like I was, because they are young and it is easier?  

PS- More posts you might like are below (Just click on the picture below to be taken to the post)

This list will give your family a place to start together… 
daily cleaning list print here


A boy pulling a large garbage can on a sidewalk with text beside him.

lay with me

unspoil my child

And last – my favorite list of freebies 🙂 
A close up of a colorful drawing of a person holding a long list.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. I don’t know if it’s because I’m pregnant but I actually cried when I read that sweet boy cleaning his own plate. All that you’ve said is SO TRUE here and I even find with a 3 year old and 2 year old (1 year old isn’t helpful unfortunately 😉 that they can do far more than I expect. This was a great reminder that having them do things for themselves isn’t child cruelty, it’s actually helpful for them as people! Preach it, girl!

  2. Great post. I am especially guilty of “it’s easier to do it myself.” I really need to stop! Thanks for the reminder.

  3. What a boy! Love that story. I also love your phrase, “they are young, and it is easier” because it is so true. It is easier and quicker if I do it. I am more efficient, but it doesn’t teach them the skills that they need. They can do it! Let them. Great post. Thank you.

  4. Wow, I bet that mama was proud! We’ve always taught our kids to help out from a young age, but I doubt any of my kids would wash dishes at someone else’s house, lol

  5. Great post! I agree 100%! My son is only 3 so he isn’t super helpful and doesn’t have chores he must do, but he is learning to be helpful and when he gets older he will be responsible for taking care of himself and his things.

  6. I am SOOO guilty of this… I have to remind my son to clean up after himself ALL the time. i really need to stop, great post… I needed this wakeup call! 😉

  7. Enjoyed your article … Very timely for me. I am very efficient and I think at times I extend my efficiency too far, preventing my child from figuring it out on her own. A coworker described a 20-something year old acquaintance as “his mother still does all his thinking for him”. major wake up call!

  8. my son is 4. we don’t have any other kids yet. so i have PLENTY of time to help him. i put his shoes and socks on. help him get dressed. wipe his bum. buckle his seat belt. carry him when he is tired of walking. i’m so guilty of this. so many of his friends and his friends younger siblings can do this stuff. i need to stop. but it’s not like i’m helping a bunch of other children. he’s gotten so whiny and doesn’t TRY to do things. that’s what bugs me most. he just gives up without even starting to try. i’ll start implementing this stuff TODAY. thanks!

    1. Aww- good luck!! I know that it is hard to not do it for them when you know that you CAN. I struggle with it, too. 🙂

  9. By the time I was 8 I was clearing the Table. Doing my own laundry plus yard work and my room. My Mom had 2 jobs plus 4 boys to feed. I learned a lot.

  10. I got a wake up call when I sent my child to a Montessori Preschool. Because of how I was raised, I would have never thought about how much my child was capable of at an early age. Now she’s almost 7, and she can put together a meal by herself and help around the house more that I would have at her age.

  11. I am glad I came across this post. I am a mother of four the eldest being 8 and youngest 18 month. Trust me when I say they all have chores from cleaning their rooms to their plates nd taking garbage bags.

    My first born even has a way of asking if she can give her youngest brother a bath of course under my supervison. My second born is a bit lazy but I have my ways to ask him to do things. An my third one is a clean freak he likes everything clean and mind you his just 4 years as for my 18 month I have started training him to pick up his toys and even his dirty milk bottles and send them to the kitchen.

    And right now am gonna start potty training by following your ideas.

    So thanks for sharing such great ideas. Your doing a wonderful jobs.

    A big hug to u.

  12. I am the eldest of 12 and we are also used to cook, clean up and do our own laundry. Now I am married and living in a foreign country (where my husband is from) and we are blessed with a beautiful daughter who is 16 months old now. I train her to put away her own toys and clothes/shoes, we have fun doing this, and then one day this happened in front of my MIL. My husband is the only son of two siblings, and my MIL still cleans up after the other child who is 20 years old now. You should’ve seen the look on my MIL. Thanks for this post – it is very profound and a great reminder.

    1. that’s so great that you are teaching her so young… it is a wonderful thing to know how to take care of yourself & your things! 🙂 Great job!

  13. I just had to say Thank you for a fantastic article. My kids do lots of chores and dont do lots of chores but i am so grateful that someone is actually supporting kids. Kids are as capable as you will let them be.

  14. I completely agree with this article. I run a martial arts school, and one time I was saying to the kids in class “Remember one of the requirements for earning your next belt level is to keep your room clean” One of the children raised their hand and said” My maid cleans my room for me”. I was left speechless.

    In another incident, I asked a 12 year old student to mail something for me. She did not know where to write the senders, receivers address, and stamp on the envelope.

    Since then I constantly quiz the kids on what they are able to do. You would be really surprised at how many 11, 12 , and 13 year olds cannot cook scrabbled eggs. Their parents are so afraid of letting them touch the stove that they prevent them from learning basic life skills. Another one is laundry. How many kids can operate a washer and dryer?

    I find it a tragedy that Home Economics is not longer taught in schools. The majority of American parents are so focused on Academic skill that they are raising kids that will be helpless as adults.

    1. 🙂 My husband was doing laundry when he was about 10, so I want our kids to learn it, too… it makes for a great spouse when they can help out! 😉