There is pressure for our kids to do everything on their own. Admittedly they can get away with doing less if a parent is not looking over their shoulder. More often though, they are under the mistaken impression that asking for help is in some way like cheating. The following conversation may or may not have happened in my household recently and the all characters are probably fictional, maybe.
8th Grade Son: So if colleges look at my grades for all four years of high school it is going to start soon!
Father: Yes it is, that is why your mother and I are always hassling you about good study habits.
8th Grade Son: I have good habits...
Father: Sure, like getting your work done without procrastinating, and asking for help when you need it.
8th Grade Son: Help with what?
Father: Well, that essay you had to write the other day for example, you could have asked me to check it for you.
8th Grade Son: Yeah, but I did it myself, I didn't need your help.
Father: But maybe if you asked me to read it over after you were finished I might have had some suggestions to make it better.
8th Grade Son: But we are supposed to do it ourselves and you will not be there when I am older so I won't be able to ask you then. [Good point!]
Father: True, but we could review it together and you could learn whatever I have to teach you and then later you might be better able to do it on your own. And, I am sure your teacher would want you to ask for help, as long as I don't write it for you.
8th Grade Son: Hmmmm.
I am sharing the above dialogue because 8th Grade Son has a valid point. If he asks for help all the time then what is he going to do when there is nobody around and he truly needs to finish his work on his own. Where is the balance between building independent skills and confidence in our kid's abilities and asking for help?
Our kids were not born this way. As toddlers they do not hesitate to ask us to do anything at anytime. I would imagine that it is part of that whole independence thing that comes with puberty and adolescence where asking for help becomes harder. We may not always be able to provide the support they need (like with the increasingly difficult math problems coming home these days...) but we can create an environment where they feel comfortable asking. Like the study habits mentioned in the dialogue above, the habit of asking for help when needed is an important one for our kids to develop for their careers.