dealing with the "I can'ts" - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > dealing with the "I can'ts"
Missgrl's Avatar Missgrl 06:46 PM 11-24-2001
I can't stand when my almost 4 year old ds says "I can't." Which is often!!!! He says he can't even before he tries to do it! And depending on his mood he'll either do it successfully or give up easily and say "see, I told you I can't do it." How do ya'll deal with this?

jtsmom's Avatar jtsmom 07:55 PM 11-24-2001
my ds is 3 1/2 and says this sometimes. I usually kind of chide him a little and say :" oh, sure you can, you are the smartest boy I know," If he needs explaination, I give it, or I'll say, "maybe if you separate the edge pieces of the puzzle, it would be easier" I will also help with a small aspect of the project if he really needs help, of course, if it is something too difficult, I will help him, but encourage him to do as much as he can. Sometimes I pretend to help, but don't, ex; sit next to him while he builds a big tower, then when it's done, I say "see, you didn't need any help, you did it all by yourself!! YOu are so smart/ strong/brave"

marymary's Avatar marymary 08:19 PM 11-24-2001
hiya! my 5 yr old +3 days ds 'can't' put his trousers on (he can) but he went to a party today where he knew nobody but the host
(5) and asked me to come back later. This is fantastic because he's very shy. I think they need to touch base by saying 'I can't' they're reaffirming your love and commitment. It's nice to decide for yourself what you are and aren't capable of. xMM
lisamarie's Avatar lisamarie 02:20 AM 11-25-2001
I have a 5 year old as well and that phrase is in his vocabulary! In fact, my dh an I were just talking about it tonight. I have found that in my son's case, he will say that he can't until he feels completely confident enough to achieve what he is trying to do. Example: He was afraid to get his face wet in the pool or bath for the longest time, even though he was taking swimming lessons, etc. Then we went on vacation last June and BOOM, he decided on HIS terms to do it. By the time we went to Kauai in August, he could snorkle in the ocean!!! Now he can swim underwater and that's even w/out a mask. My dh just needs to feel confident.

but, sometimes he just makes that comment when he is tired too.


talapas's Avatar talapas 04:02 PM 11-25-2001
I thought I was the only one with a kid who says this all the time. I just say keep trying, but you've given me pause to think about why she's doing it, and next time I will go and give "assists" in strategic places.
Thanks Ladies & gents!
peacemama's Avatar peacemama 06:33 PM 12-04-2001
My daughter, almost 3, has begun to do this too. What seems to work well with her is if I give her verbal help. I'll verbally break down the task into manageable parts, for example, if she's putting on her pants, I'll say, "Okay, first sit hold the pants by the waist with the tag in back...put in one the other..." You get the idea. Often after talking through the first couple of steps I'll say, "Do you still need my help or can you finish all by yourself?" And I'll go with whatever she says. I figure I'm not only helping her self-confidence, but teaching her the very valuable skill of breaking a chore into a series of smaller, more manageable tasks. Hope this helps!
Chelsea's Avatar Chelsea 02:38 AM 12-22-2001
We have been getting into a lot of I can't's recently. I have been following the advice from the book Redirecting Childrens Behaivor. It suggests that when the child says I can't to something that you know they can do, you say in a very pleasant voice something along the lines of, "Do it anyways, love" This seems to be working well for us. I also try to give lots of complements about his abilities when talking to others while in earshot of him. The book also talks about break tasks down into managable pieces. Anyways, it is a very useful book...

- Chelsea
Valerie.Qc's Avatar Valerie.Qc 06:40 PM 12-29-2001
Also have a "I can't" at home! Sometimes a "I'm not good enough"...

DS is 4 and, since september, he is playing violin. When we are at his teacher's house, he is doing well and is so concentrated... but at home, it's always difficult to have him practicing... He would say it's too hard, he can't do it alone (he want me to hold his hand) We asked him if he wants to quit, not going to the lessons anymore: we had a big NO as an answer! He wants to go every saturday morning... He even ask if we could go there more often so he can practice with his teacher instead of me!!! What do I do wrong???

geekmom's Avatar geekmom 07:27 PM 01-13-2002
What I've found works sometimes when I know that he can do what he says he "can't" I tell him "okay, I'll be right in to help" then I take my sweet time. He is basically then stuck with his pants half on or whatever waiting for me. If it's something he really can do then he will usually do it so he can play and if he really can't do it then there's no power struggle I just help him with whatever.

With my 4 y.o. I also discuss (often) the concept about more responsibility=more privileges. The more he can do, the more choices he gets to make, etc. It's still a tough concept for him, but I can see it sinking in.