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Monday, July 28, 2014

Insights: Put An End To “Can’t Do” Attitudes

Over the last year or so I have made an interesting observation, and with school being out, more kids coming to work with mom and dad, birthday parties for kids around us, and just a general increase in social events during the summer months I have been seeing this happen more and more…

Thankfully most of my friends and family have fairly healthy kids, but unfortunately a fair amount of them have “sick kids” too. And I have noticed a remarkable difference in the way these children are being raised; primarily in the vocabulary and attitude that these parents instill in their daily lives. Maybe I am more attuned to it now that my BFF has a sick kid herself, or maybe it has always been this way, I am not sure. But I have found that the parents of the sick kids generally have a much more positive, confidence building, “can do” attitude than the parents of the healthy kids!

And no, I am not saying that ALL parents of sick kids are only positive and ALL parents of healthy kids are always negative but more often than not, at least in recent months, this is what I have been seeing. The kids being sheltered with bubble wrap are perfectly healthy and the kids who explore their surroundings independently without it are not all that well. For example, those with sick kids have their children in swimming lessons at less than a year old, and those with healthy kids teach their children that the water is dangerous and stop them from coming in contact with a pool. Those with sick kids enroll their children in daycare part time and other activities to encourage socialization and learning, while parents of healthy kids say they are too young for that still and keep them locked up at home (unless pressed to go back to work of course, then full time daycare is OK). Basically, those with sick kids encourage their child to try new things and push their limits even if it means giving them some extra help to succeed and those with healthy kids repeat words like “no”, “he/she is too young” and “can’t” over and over again. I could go on and on forever with this, but I think you get my point…

Sick or healthy, I can see a clear difference just watching positively encouraged kids interact with discouraged kids. In some cases, these kids are worlds apart from one another; introverts vs. extroverts, ability to hold a junior conversation vs. not talking at all, a desire to explore something new vs. gluing themselves to mommy or daddy in fear and so on. I am no psychologist, but I am sure this translates into the rest of these kids lives to a degree as well.

What happened to positive affirmation? What happened to letting your child discover new things for themselves? Let’s be realistic here; no, they shouldn’t go out and drive your car by themselves but maybe they can try and climb the stairs on their own or splash around a kiddie pool for a while! Pop the bubble wrap! Sure your kid may trip and scrape their knee, eat a crayon, get water up their nose, or even get frustrated and give up on something too difficult for them but that’s OK! Let them try! Help them when they get discouraged, challenge their abilities, teach them new things and encourage them to learn. Let them figure out what they like and what they can and cannot do. Your children may even surprise you; they can do lots of things you never expected them to be capable of doing if only you would let them try!

As parents, you should be your child’s #1 source of encouragement, not their greatest discouragement. Besides, how do YOU feel when someone tells you that you CAN’T do something?