My daughter (then 4 yrs) and son (then 2 yrs) and I were getting off the elevator at a train station, when we saw a lady slumped on the bridge. As we maneuvered the stroller out the elevator the few people passing between us and the woman asked "are you OK?", to which she replied in an extremely weak voice "yes thank you" even though she clearly wasn't.
My suspicion was that she was embarrassed about her situation or didn't know what help she needed, hence her decline of any offers, despite desperately looking like she needed some help. But what is help? We gently approached her and said "we are in no rush today. We are just going to wait over there. Please let us know if you need anything but you are not inconveniencing us at all".
I then said to my children that I didn't think the people who were trying to helpful by asking if she was OK, were actually being helpful, so we were going to incept them and explain that we were helping the woman before they could talk to her. The few minutes that this gave the woman to centre herself resulted in her calling me over to tell me what was going on for her. Whilst I sat with her, my 4 year old daughter continued the task of politely intercepting passers by, saying "my mummy is handling the situation. they don't need any help thank you". (She is very confident and self assured).
I was in awe at how she handled the situation .... so polite, yet firm. Fortunately for all passers by, they heeded her advice as I would pity them for the situation they would have found themselves in, had they gone against her!
Soon the woman asked for a bag as she thought she was going to be sick. My daughter took the task to hand and started asking people passing if they had a plastic grocery bag they could give us.
After the woman was sick in the plastic grocery bag that my daughter had recruited for us she felt better enough to call her husband and arrange for him to come collect her. We stayed with her until he arrived. Me sat next to her and my daughter doing the most helpful task, of incepting anyone trying to be helpful.
After we had a great conversation about the difference between someone trying to be helpful, and the help that someone actually needs, as often they can be different.