"He needs help in climbing every step of the ladder." Is this a proper sentence?
The intent is to convey someone's ability to solve a Mathematical/Software Problem. So if one is assisted at multiple steps to solve a problem but still struggles to move ahead to the next step.

Example: I provide a person A approach to solving a problem and break it down into multiple sub-problems to solve to make it easier for person A. But person A asks me how to solve a sub-problem and gets stuck. I help him and he gets stuck at other sub-problem...

I thought of the sentence "He needs help in climbing every step of the ladder." to convey this figuratively. Not sure if this is correct or if there is a better way to convey this

Some other words that come to my mind are: spoon feeding

  • 1
    He needs hand-holding is probably better for your context - it just implies he isn't quite competent enough to do whatever it is without assistance (often, just for the first time, after which he'll do it on his own). If you say he needs spoon-feeding that's a far more negative statement (you're comparing him to a baby, so there's not much of an implication that he'll be able to do it on his own after being shown how once). Mar 21, 2023 at 18:31
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    I would understand the meaning behind the phrase. It's very easy to understand, it may not be the most English idiom, but does it have to be? As long as it is grammatical and meaningful, it's totally fine. Saying that, I do quite like "hand-holding" you could say "He needs to be hand-held every step of the way”.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 22, 2023 at 11:48

2 Answers 2


What you came up with is correct grammatically and easily understood. The following sentence uses a similar metaphor but would be more common, I think:

He needs help every step of the way.

"Spoon feeding" implies excessive help, but it does not necessarily convey the idea that the help occurs throughout the entire process.


Having a hard time / Having a rough time: To experience difficulty doing something.


  • John is having a hard time optimizing the application.
  • Alex is having a rough time coming up with a solution to the problems she is facing.

If you are looking for something less formal, you could also possibly consider "babysitting".

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