If you do [whatever], it will only make it worse.
Have you ever heard that kind of caution? It makes you less willing to help if you think that what you would do might actually do more harm than good. That shouldn’t be an excuse for us to do nothing when someone needs help.
There are times when we try to help in ways that are not helpful. Generally, I think, a self-awareness of why we are trying to help is the place to start. In raising children, for instance, the goal should be to help the child develop into a mature, self-actuated adult. The parent may love to have a dependent infant, but the child needs to mature, often times through hurts and heartaches. So the parent knows that sometimes you shelter the child and sometimes you shove the child to go out into the world.
I have three general rules for helping:
Allow for challenges that help growth, but do not expect capabilities that do not exist.
Do not create dependency to satisfy your own desire to help.
Give freely, putting conditions only when needed by the person being helped.
These things can come from a good spirit within the giver and may find an echo in the spirit of the recipient.