Someone shared a video story on Facebook that I'll link in case any one wants to watch but I'll sum up.
A guy is picking up 12 80 pound bags of concrete at the same time that someone else is returning the same. They load 11 easy to reach bags from one truck to the other. The last bag is up near the front of the truck bed and as the recipient offers to go get it the other man tells his 9 or 10 year old son to go get it. The bag is way too heavy for the kid and he says he can't do it and the first man offers to help again, but the father insists. The kid uses all his strength, prying his body up against the truck and pushing with his legs but it only moves a couple inches. The kid gets mad and cries that he can't do it, but his father persists. Anyway, it takes the kid like 10 minutes to move the bag, crying and protesting all the way but he is finally able to do it. He's so happy with himself and his dad and him high five and hug. The first man was really moved by the message about how when life looks impossible if you have the grit and determination to be able to scratch and claw and persist how it is possible to overcome challenges you never thought possible. Not only that, but the sense of confidence and mastery that can come with that. I found myself in agreement with him.
As I thought about it a bit though I thought if that is all the kid is taught he may not ever feel comfortable asking for help when actually needed. Often times we aren't up to a challenge or it would simply be better to have others help, we don't know everything.
And then I thought about it from the opposite side. Imagine a kid being taught to ask for help or cooperate with a task even though they were shy or wanted to do it themselves. What valuable lessons are being taught there about the ability to be vulnerable or the rewards of feeling connected to others. And also what potential downsides are there if that is all a child is taught? Learned helplessness a feeling of dependence?
So in the end I wind up seeking balance between the two. And appreciating the need for wisdom in being able to discern when one or the other approach may be most beneficial.
I also assume beyond what we teach children, people come out already fairly preprogrammed. So I think there is an important lesson about recognizing our own predilections. When they are strengths, when they are weaknesses and learning how to appreciate and incorporate the yin to our yang, the yang to our yin.