Use This 6-Word Phrase the Next Time Your Kid Says, ‘I Can’t Do It!”

As parents, it’s quite something to see the pressure our kids put on themselves, even at a young age. My son is four and working hard to master his kid-sized scissors. He is eager to learn, but also gets incredibly frustrated when he can’t grip them quite the right way or accidentally snips a part of the paper he didn’t intend to. That’s when his world stops: “I can’t do it!” he’ll wail.

But how we respond in these moments can have a critical impact. I’ll admit my tendency is to step in and say: ‘Fine, I’ll do it for you’ or ‘Give me the scissors and watch mama.’

Still, Dr. Becky Kennedy, a psychologist and parenting expert, suggests offering a different response to children experiencing feelings of defeat: “Try again when you feel ready.”

After all, frustration is natural and it’s our job as parents to normalize it. But we don’t want to remove the feeling, which is exactly what happens if I step in and expedite the task. Instead, we want to help our child learn to tolerate frustration while simultaneously demonstrating our belief in their ability to learn and achieve.

According to Kennedy, it can help to use a calmer moment to teach kids that frustration happens to everyone and it’s an important emotion to manage…after you take a beat. By saying “try again when you feel ready,” you make it clear that you not only believe in them, but you have the patience to sit back as they learn.

The 4-Word Phrase Every Parent Needs to Hear

Rachel Bowie

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...
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