Child Themes Helper

The Child Themes Helper makes it easy to copy files from any folder in the parent theme to the identical folder in the child theme. The user only needs to click on the parent file that they want to copy. They will be prompted to verify the file they wish to copy. Also, if the file already exists in the child theme and if it is not identical to the one being copied, they will be prompted to verify that they want to overwrite the file. Then the Child Themes Helper plugin will copy their selected file from the parent theme to the child theme and duplicate the folder path  and if it already exists in the child theme and is not identical to the file in the parent theme, they will be prompted to overwrite the file. 

Before we get into the details of the all of the Child Themes Helper functionality, let’s define some terms that will be used to describe the functionality of this plugin.


According to the WordPress Codex, a theme is “a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”

Child Theme

Back to the WordPress Codex:  “A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme or the template theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.

Parent Theme

The parent theme is the WordPress name given to the theme from which you derive a child theme.

Template Theme

The Template Theme and the Parent Theme are the same thing. Most users refer to the template theme as the parent theme. But the WordPress codex refers to the parent theme as the template theme.


The Child Themes Helper plugin uses vertical panes to display the files associated with each theme. The child theme’s files are listed in the left-hand pane and the parent theme’s files are listed in the right-hand pane. The terms used in this write-up are the child theme pane, and the parent theme pane or the template theme pane.

Child Themes Helper Functionality

The Child Themes Helper has 3 areas of functionality.

  1. The primary purpose is to copy files from the parent theme to the child theme while duplicating the parent theme’s folder path.

As a website developer, there are many free and not-free themes readily available that you can use with your WordPress website. Unfortunately, nearly every WordPress web or website developer (hereinafter: “developer”) wants their own unique website. In other words, they want to use a canned-off-the-shelf theme, but have it look unique to their website. WordPress makes this easy.

The developer has two primary choices for customizing their website.

  1. Modify the free or not-free downloaded theme so it looks like you want your website to look.
  2. Create a child theme with the original theme as it’s parent.

Many beginners choose the first choice. But that is a bad choice. When the original theme developer updates the theme and pushes it to the WordPress directory, the developer’s website will see that there is an update to the theme and notify the developer. And when the developer updates the theme, all of their changes will be lost. Poof. If there isn’t a backup, then the changes will be lost.

WordPress recommends the second choice. Create a child theme and make your changes there.

Using a child theme, you are free to use as little of the parent theme or as much of the parent theme as you want. But since your theme modifications are in a child theme, when the parent theme updates, your website is largely unchanged.

© 2018, Paul Swarthout. All rights reserved.