Help your child stop saying “I can’t” with these easy tips from Zoie Hoffman, founder of the Hoffman Tutoring Group.
It’s a scene (that seems) as old as human civilization. A child sitting at the table looking up at their parent insisting they can’t do the task at hand. Does this scene seem familiar to you?
It’s not uncommon for children and adults to bust out that four letter word whenever they’re frustrated and feeling defeated.
So, if we all say it, why is it so bad?
Helping Your Child Stop Saying “I Can’t” During Homework Time
When students say “I can’t” it can become a form of self-fulfilling prophecy. A student who believes they can’t grasp a certain math concept or master their spelling list will more than likely find that to be true.
Students also sometimes use “I can’t” as a way of relieving the pressure.
If they say they can’t do it, they don’t have to deal with the emotions of trying and failing. I don’t blame them. Those feelings can be brutal. But, learning isn’t possible without some struggle.
We want our kids to cut this word so they can have a healthier view of their learning and the struggle that comes along with it. This is a little more complex than just saying you can do something and then being able to.
As many of us know, it takes us all different amounts of time to accomplish the same tasks or milestones. I know that I can run a marathon. That doesn’t mean I would be ready to run the Boston this season.
Kids Learn at Different Paces
Each child may not reach each milestone or master each concept exactly when the school expects them to. But each child can understand the power of putting in the work and increasing understanding and ability at their own pace.
Often students get caught up in the mindset that if they can’t do something now they won’t ever be able to do it.
Helping your child step away from saying “I can’t” when they’re struggling, and helping them pick more productive language, can help them step out of this limited mindset into a more growth centered one.
Don’t know where to start? When your child says they can’t, start by helping them re-phrase to say something a little more empowering and specific to their struggle. You can even model this switch for them when you’re being challenged.
Stop saying “I can’t” by swapping in these phrases:
- I need help with this
- I need more practice
- I can’t do this yet…
- This is challenging me
- I’m having a hard time with this concept
- My brain needs a break
- I’m working hard to understand
- Can you please help me?
- I’m feeling frustrated
- I think I’m missing something
- I need more time to master this
- I know I can do it with more practice
- I’m feeling discouraged
Connect with Teachers, Tutors, and Coaches for Extra Help
If you’re hearing “I can’t” and similar phrases from your child often enough that it’s worrying you, be sure to reach out to their teacher, counselor, or an education consultant to discuss your concerns.
This can sometimes be a sign of bigger academic issues that need to be addressed in order to help your child see more academic success and feel less discouraged.
When that four letter word isn’t a part of your family’s everyday vocabulary, you free everyone up to struggle, learn, and reach their full potential. As you make the shift, you may find that you’re able to have great conversations about ability, personal best, and setting and achieving goals.
Less limiting language means more room to grow!
Zoie is the founder and lead tutor at Hoffman Tutoring Group, an online tutoring company that serves students in K-8th grade. Her passion for personalized learning stems from her own experience as a struggling elementary school student. She dedicates her time to ensuring students get the education and mindset building they need to meet their academic goals by matching them with qualified tutors who plan sessions specifically for each child’s needs, personality, and learning style.