I can't do it.

What do you do when your child turns to you and says "I can't do it"?

The first time I remember my son saying it to me he had not long turned two. I asked him to try to put his trousers on by himself. He looked me straight in the eye and said "I can't do it Mummy". It was one of those moments when you realise you are a very important person. What you do and the manner you bring your children up in has such a huge impact on them.

I told him that he could do it. That he could do anything he wanted to do (as long as it wasn't bad), but that sometimes things take time. I realised afterwards that this wasn't necessarily the best plan. Since then, I have changed tack. Whenever he says that he can't do something, I tell him to try again. "Just try again one more time, and I will help you if you still can't do it". The look of triumph on his face when he manages to do it is absolutely fantastic.

He's been really struggling with getting his socks and his coat on (not at the same time) and trying again, one more time, has been really working. Obviously some of the time I have to help him out, that's fine, and not met with any negativity from me. I love to see how independent my little boy is getting. He'll be three in March and he dresses himself completely and is brilliant at putting on his shoes. It's doesn't half speed up our mornings now that he can get his own clothes on!

The latest thing he wants to do by himself is drive our car. I've told him he can. When he's 17. They'd better not change the age for driving, he's counting down the days!

8 comments

  1. I'm very impressed that your son can dress himself! My son is just three and has just about managed to do his bottom half, but he can't do tops yet. He recently started saying "I'm not very good at that" when I asked him to do things, and I've no idea where he got that from. Now I'm extra careful what I say, so that he doesn't pick things up like that from me. Like you, I want him to at least try to do things, even if he needs a little help!

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    1. I'm impressed that he can get his coat and shoes on! He's so proud of himself every morning when he gets himself ready.

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  2. Missy could dress herself before she was 3 quite well and even now, they are ace at getting ready tho she can be Dolly Daydream and wander off in her head. People used to think it's amazing but when there are more than one child, they have to grow up quick or wait a long time.

    I am forever telling mine when they say they can't do it that until they try, and keep trying, they won't be able to improve!

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    1. It's true that when there's more than one there is far more emphasis on being independent! And it's so true, they won't be able to improve unless they stick at things!

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  3. My son can get his pants and trousers on (providing I help him start so that the label is at the back), but it does take ages. I often reply (when he says ‘I can't’) with try again, I bet you can and then when he achieves his result, ask him 'did you really do that all by yourself – he is so proud of himself when he has done it and often shouts ‘DONE IT’'. You forget how quickly they become independent; this little life that you had to do everything for only a little while ago now needs you less and less. My daughter dresses herself and this can sometimes make me roar with laughter - shorts and tee shirt when it is -15° outside, spotty tights, stripy shorts and a floral top - we have tried to teach her a few 'fashion' basics, but she, like us wants to wear 20% of her wardrobe 80% of the time. She would of course wear her princess dress at all times if allowed, even in the bath!

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    1. My son always chooses his jogging bottoms and hoody over jeans and a jumper! It is amazing how quickly they grow up!

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  4. Good tactic! It's amazing how a slight change in how you encourage them makes a big difference.

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    1. Yes, and making sure that you don't make a fuss if they can't do it is so helpful too!

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