For the Parents Parenting Guide

Turning every I can’t into I can

Turning-every-“I-cant”-into-“I-can”

Every day your child faces new obstacles in the harsh world outside. His skills are tested and often he cannot get over many obstacles. So, it is very usual to hear “it cannot be done” statement from your children. You will hear your child complaining about small things such as “I can’t get up in the morning”, “I can’t complete my homework”, “I can’t exercise”, “I can’t eat healthy food”, or “I can’t pay attention in the class”. Mind you these are just some of the many “can’ts” you would hear from the child every day. As a parent, it is very easy for you to feel frustrated. You may seem lost in the quest for the answer “How can I turn all these can’ts into cans?”

Researchers believe that we, the human beings, are blessed with an indomitable inner strength that helps us survive in the most challenging circumstances. Our body and mind can be molded to adjust with any condition when it is counseled in the right way. When given a chance to fight or lay flat, humans inevitably choose to fight the odds. You should take strength from these facts while turning your child into a positive minded person. It is your responsibility as a parent, to guide him, till all the can’ts turn into “I can”. Here are some ideas that will help you in the quest.

Tip #1: Remind them of similar instances

A bit of motivation is always essential for the child to make the transition from his negative mindset to a positive one. When your child is overwhelmed and feels that a task at hand cannot be accomplished, you have to motivate him. Remind him of past instances when he had accomplished a task that on the onset seemed very difficult. You may remind the child of an instance when he had completed all the tasks in a long to-do list, or of occasions when he had put aside all the toys to complete his homework. Once the child starts believing that the task at hand is not out of his capability, he will try and achieve it.

Tip #2: Motivate them to take the next step

Researchers believe that the positive mindset of parents can easily turn a child into achieving things he deemed unachievable. Motivational discussions with the child should reflect how tasks that apparently seem difficult become easy once the child makes an effort. You may use real life examples to put the point across. Motivational interviews (which by the way is what Psychologists call this process) works best with children when you tell them that a part of the difficult task has already been completed and turning back now would be a waste of all the earlier effort. Let us give you an example, your child does not want to go to school, after getting dressed and journeying downstairs. In such a situation you should tell him how he has taken so many steps in completing this difficult task such as waking up in the morning, getting dressed and then coming downstairs on time, all he needs to do now is to board the bus and the task is complete. You will find that the child when motivated will quickly agree to board the school bus!

Tip #3: Turn into their Cheerleader

Think of positive slogans and use them when the child says “I can’t”. You need to be their motivational cheerleader who always reminds him of the inner strength. The practice can turn with the simple slogan “I know you can”, “Come on you can do it”, “Try a bit more and you will succeed” and then turn into other slogans. Children need to be reminded of things they can achieve constantly and your slogans will serve that purpose aptly. Suppose your child does not like his healthy lunch, so why not stick a motivational message on his box asking him to eat the lunch and show it others!

Tip #4: Divide a task into small steps

There are many tasks that seem overwhelming at first sight, but when broken down they can be achieved. Help the child in breaking down his difficult-to-achieve tasks into small steps. By completing small steps, the child can finally complete the end task. And you can just sit back and tell him “I told you so”. Suppose you want the child to throw the garbage outside. You could break the process down into steps such as: take the waste basket out from underneath the sink, remove the plastic bag from the basket, tie the knot in the plastic, take the knotted bag outside, and finally throw the bag into the garbage bin. You should reveal each step after the earlier one is complete. Such practice helps the child in solving problems and simplifying situations.

Tip #5: Set an end goal

Children come under pressure when their parents have high expectations from them. They feel any task they take up should end in success. And under the pressure of expectations, they often use the safe way out by saying “I can’t”. So, the best way to encourage your kid is to set your expectations low. You have to get the message across: no matter what the result is, your effort was appreciated. To get this message across set some rewards for the kid when he completes a difficult task (rewards could be extra playing time, reading out an extra story, favourite choice of food during dinner, etc.). If the child fails, after making an honest effort, still give him the reward. This will free the child from the burdens of expectations and then he can approach any work more confidently.

Tip #6: Change the Teachers or Coaches if needed

Children are like clay, they can be molded by the people around them. This is why you want to assure that the coaches and teachers who guide him have a positive attitude towards life too. If your child is putting in his best efforts and yet being demoralized repeatedly by the teacher or coach, then it is time to change such people. You might find that such a change does a world of good to his mindset.

Helping your child in seeing the bright side of things is the best gift you can ever give!

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