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How to Encourage a "Can Do" Attitude?

468 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  ChasingPeace
Hi, how do you all help encourage your children to have a "Can Do" attitude? My almost 4 yo says "I can't" to things all the time, even simple things that I know he is capable of if he tried. A lot of the time I think it is more of an "I don't want to."

I encourage him when he does try to do things, even if he didn't do it perfectly. I am happy and let him know when I notice him doing things well. Am I doing something wrong?

What can I do to help him believe in himself more and to actually try to do things he thinks he can't?
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Good question! My almost 5 year old dd definately has some confidence issues. She says I can't a lot or, if she tries something once and isn't immediately successful, she gives up.

It is such a balance between offering encouragement and not belittling their apprehensiveness if that makes sense. Like if she said "i'm too scared to try such and such", rather than just saying you can do it, I try to say something like I understand that it is scary to try something new but...

I know what you mean about saying that she can't but you know that she has done it before. My dd is that way about riding her bike.

I can't wait to read how others handle this.

Originally Posted by heldt123
What can I do to help him believe in himself more and to actually try to do things he thinks he can't?
In the moment, I generally help her. I try to help rather than do--meaning, show her how to do it for herself....aid her doing it for herself. And then say, "You did it!"

I try to talk about these "issues" with dd in calmer times. When she is not struggling, and we are just chatting. We can then talk about the difference between "I can't" and "I don't want to" (which is perfectly valid). And also talk about things that are easy the first time, vs things that require more practice, etc. I sometimes tell stories about things that I have had to try over and over to get right--or things I was afraid to try at first-- but were worth the effort....or talk about things she achieved in the past thru trying.
My son acts the same way sometimes, and one thing I noticed is that encouragement really helps, and reminding him that it takes practice to get better at doing certain things, and then I remind him of many things that he is now good at because he has practiced doing it. He will still cry, but he listens. Eventually he'll do it and then grudgingly smile! He then won't want me to comment about it again, but that's another story....
My ds is a lot younger than yours, so I'm not sure how applicable this will be, but when he gets frustrated, I tell him "you can do it!" If he still won't do it, I'll ask "do you want me to show you how to do it?" If he says yes, I show him, then say "now you try." If he says no, I ask "do you want to do it together" or "do you want Mommy to help you do it?" Then I tell him "now you try." I always try to end with something like "Mommy is so proud of you for trying! The important thing is that you tried, you'll get it with practice."

I also think it's really important not to be too eager to help. When we're playing together, often ds will ask me to do something for him before he even tries. I refuse and only intervene if he becomes pretty frustrated.

A good book for fostering confidence in younger kids (if you ignore the non-AP stuff which is admittedly a LOT):
Your Self-Confident Baby: How to Encourage Your Child's Natural Abilities from the Very Start by Magda Gerber and Allison Johnson
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