Okay, I know that is not a word. I do. But in my 20th year of teaching, I think I have reached my limit on the word can’t. Seriously. People use that word entirely too much, especially about their kids.
If I had listened to all of the can’ts about my own son, he would never have played sports or been in any group, he would never have friends, he would hardly be functional in school, and he would never show affection. Quite the opposite is true: he has played soccer and football, has run track and cross country, was a member of the band, and is a black belt in martial arts; he has a nice little group of friends who are ones I do not have to worry about; he has pretty decent grades, does crossfit and lifts pretty well, is on the school broadcast team, and at 15 years old, he still hugs me in public. I never told him that he could not do something – simply to do his best at what he did. Is he perfect? Absolutely not. Does he struggle with organization? Sure, what high school sophomore does not? But he does his best, and that is all I can ask.
For years, I have heard parents say, even in front of their children, that the child cannot do this or that, was not born to do that, is not wired to do that, is too disorganized to do that, and so forth. They are sending the very clear message to the child that they do not think him or her capable of accomplishing that goal. It makes me frustrated and sad. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy, and children will believe what their parents tell them, because parents are the ones who are supposed to love them the most. So they would know, right?
To those parents, I offer the following:
Your child can do amazing things, and he or she may not do it perfectly the first time – or ever – but it can be done. And your child may have to reach the goal differently than other students. So what? They will make progress. Why sell these awesome people short?
So let’s stop talking in terms of what your child can’t do, and start looking at the skills and talents that they do have and put those to good use. And let’s allow them the opportunity to do things, instead of relegating them to the world of can’t.
I promise, they will surprise you.