Turning “Can’t” into “CAN”
I’ve decided I don’t like the word “can’t”. It sounds so defeating – “I can’t do it.” “My son can’t do that.” Sometimes parents will talk about their children in terms of “can’ts” – “That’s too hard – he can’t do it.” “I tried to show him but he can’t understand.” When I hear those kinds of things I quickly reframe the discussion to how we can structure things so the child “CAN” do whatever it is we are talking about. In my opinion there are very few can’ts – it’s about thinking through how to help our children be successful with the things we want to help them learn to do.
If someone told me today that I was going to run a marathon next week I would laugh and say, “I can’t do that!” It would be true because I do not run on a regular basis and would be physically unable to run a marathon without training for it. However, if someone told me that I needed to run a marathon a year from now it would be doable. I could start running a little bit each day, build up my strength and endurance, and be ready for the marathon in a year’s time. It’s not that I “can’t” run a marathon, it’s just that I need time to prepare and get ready for it.
This is the same thing I want parents to think about in relation to their children. Instead of saying that your child can’t do something, spend time figuring out how you need to break it down and provide guidance so they CAN learn to do it. What are the components and how many should we tackle at once? Are there other things that could be learned first that would build up to this? What is the best way to help my child understand – tell him, show him, do it with him? Reframe your own thinking! No more “can’ts” – just “how CAN we do this?”
This week I’d like you to think about something you have put in the “can’t” category for your child. Spend some time thinking about how you can turn this into a “CAN” and start working on it. Remember to start slow, build competence, and before you know it you’ll wonder how you ever thought this was something your child would never be able to do.
Until next week,