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July 14, 2024

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Trust Not a Horse’s Heel nor a Dog’s Tooth – Deciphering the Meaning and Origins of the English Proverb

The English proverb “Trust not a horse’s heel nor a dog’s tooth” is a centuries-old piece of wisdom that serves…

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Parenting is a challenging but rewarding journey, and every parent’s primary goal is to see their child succeed in life. While providing guidance, support, and assistance is essential, there’s a fine line between being a supportive parent and being overly helpful. In many cases, parents who are too helpful may unintentionally hinder their child’s development of essential life skills. This article explores the potential drawbacks of excessive parental assistance and offers tips on how to strike a balance between support and independence.

  1. Lack of Independence

One of the most significant consequences of overbearing helpfulness is that it can stifle a child’s ability to become independent. When parents are constantly there to solve problems, make decisions, and handle challenges on their child’s behalf, it leaves little room for the child to learn how to do these things themselves. Independence is a crucial skill for success in adulthood, and it’s developed through trial and error, not by having problems solved for you.

  1. Reduced Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving is an essential skill that children need to develop as they grow. Over-helpful parents may inadvertently prevent their children from honing this skill. When parents always provide quick solutions, children miss the opportunity to think critically, make decisions, and learn from their mistakes. Encouraging children to tackle problems on their own fosters resilience and resourcefulness.

  1. Low Self-Esteem

Constant parental intervention can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem. When parents are overly helpful, children may start to doubt their own abilities and feel incapable of handling tasks independently. This lack of self-confidence can carry over into adulthood, affecting their ability to face challenges and make decisions with conviction.

  1. Impaired Decision-Making Skills

The ability to make decisions is vital for personal growth and success. Parents who make every decision for their child can impede their development of sound decision-making skills. Children need opportunities to make choices, even if those choices sometimes result in mistakes or failures. These experiences teach them responsibility and help them develop good judgment.

  1. Strained Parent-Child Relationships

Ironically, excessive helpfulness can strain parent-child relationships. Children may become frustrated or resentful if they feel that their parents do not trust their abilities or constantly interfere in their lives. This can lead to conflicts and strained communication between parents and their children.

Finding the Right Balance

While it’s important for parents to be supportive and protective, they also need to allow their children to grow and develop their own skills. Here are some strategies for finding the right balance:

  1. Encourage Independence: Provide opportunities for your child to make age-appropriate decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
  2. Foster Problem-Solving: When your child faces a challenge, encourage them to brainstorm solutions and guide them through the process rather than providing an immediate answer.
  3. Promote Self-Esteem: Praise your child’s efforts and accomplishments, even if they make mistakes. Let them know that it’s okay to fail sometimes and that mistakes are opportunities to learn.
  4. Communicate Openly: Maintain open and honest communication with your child. Let them know that you trust their abilities and are there to support them when needed.
  5. Be Patient: Allow your child to learn at their own pace and be patient with their development. Remember that mistakes are part of the learning process.


Parenting is a delicate balancing act, and while it’s natural to want to protect and help our children, it’s equally important to give them the space they need to develop essential life skills. Overbearing helpfulness can hinder a child’s ability to become independent, make decisions, and solve problems on their own. By finding the right balance between support and independence, parents can empower their children to become capable, confident, and resilient individuals ready to face the challenges of adulthood.


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