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What is with the word "I can't" and what do I do to get rid of it?

How do I erase this word from her frequently used vocabulary? Her excuse for everything is "I can't." "I can't walk the dog, he's too big""I can't pass my test or study because it's too hard" "I can't clean up after myself, because I forget" "I can't, I can't I can't" "I can't, why try" I am at a loss. I've only been around her for about a year and now its just us, but I don't know how much positive I can offer someone refusing to take any. All the negative has filled her head and heart. How do I clear it out? I've tried positive encouragement, compliments, praises, and even instead of being strict, on schedule and by the book I've even relaxed on the grounding and chores. And it seems like all of it is just being taken advantage of. There has to be something I haven't tried. Please help.

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Asked by TemosWife at 8:27 PM on Apr. 3, 2009 in Tweens (9-12)

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Answers (10)
  • I dont know, I think it is just a preteen thing though, I know I did it. Just keep reminding her that even if she thinks she cant you want her to try, make it a rule around the house if you have to, but she does need to at least try. Sounds like some of it you are describing is more stuff she doesnt WANT to do, than she cant. Stay consistant with her, she will get the hint eventually.

    Answer by AK_aries at 8:29 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • I never herd those words(I can't) come out of my kids mouth..They did what I told they to or else.

    Answer by louise2 at 8:35 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • Discipline her. It's NOT child abuse unless you go overboard.

    Answer by twocutetwins09 at 8:38 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • Tell her she is sending a negative message to herself & how can you do well if you keep giving yourself these negative messages.

    Keep up the positive encouragement. 


    Answer by Anonymous at 8:38 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • It's not that she can't, it's that she won't. Tell her she just needs to try. You can't tell someone to be positive but you can give her opportunities to learn what she is capable of.

    Answer by RhondaVeggie at 10:20 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • You tell her " You can and you will.....or else...". Try to take back control of the situation and make it clear that as long as she lives under your roof she will do as she is told. How you discipline is up to you but she must understand that her attitude is unacceptable and unworthy of a girl of her maturity.
    It will work. My daughters would not dare to behave in such a manner.

    Answer by janet116 at 10:25 PM on Apr. 3, 2009

  • For me there is a big difference between I can't walk the dog and I can't work in school. If the dog is too big or she doesn't want to... I'd let that go. For school, humm, that's a different story. First, talk to teachers and counselors about her abiltiy - should she be able to do her work? Is there a problem? In our case, we are re-evaluating for dyslexia but we know she is smart.

    Assuming she should be able to do the work, take it slow, and focus on 1 or 2 weaker subjects and coach her or try to get some tutoring. I have told my DD that it is normal she doesn't understand the lesson 30 seconds after the teacher gives it - it's progressive - you read it, listen, review, then we can review it at home and she will get it eventually.

    In my case my DD is smart, and sometimes as they go up in grades, some kids are used to having it very easy in primary and don't know how to face 'learning' when it gets harder.

    Answer by PhillyinFrance at 4:22 AM on Apr. 4, 2009

  • I have been through the "I Can't" phase with the older kids and here is how I handled it. This works well and our 9 year old almost never says "I Can't"

    First we sat down & discussed what each child is capable doing physically, emotionally & mentally. A 9 year old is not likely to be mentally capible for calculus, physically capible of walking an elephant or emotionally balanced for a job! (Be realistic) Now from knowing that we talk about the difference between can't & won't. We then told the kids that they can only say "I choose to or choose not to" do something.

    When they slipped up we did not yell we just reminded them that they are at choice & are they choosing to or choosing not to. This takes dicipline from the partents to follow through! Make sure you are not saying "I Can't" with your family as well.
    I can, I choose are powerful statements that stengthen our self esteem. "I Can't lowers self value!
    Good Luck

    Answer by LegacyKimberley at 1:48 PM on Apr. 4, 2009

  • I always told my sons that they had misunderstood me. I didn't ask them if they had the ability to do something. By asking them, I obviously knew they could. And, even though my request had been asked and ended with "please", I was just being pleasant and trying to teach manners by example. So, to clear things up, go and do, no excuses and no delay. Misunderstanding cleared up!

    Answer by jesse123456 at 7:20 PM on Apr. 4, 2009

  • Tell her if she "can't" clean up, study, walk the dog etc... Then you "can't" give her her allowance, buy that new cd, let her on the computer etc... And let that be the end all of the conversation. If she doesn't walk the dog then she doesn't play her video game. She will learn if she wants to do any of the things she likes to do she will have to earn them.


    Answer by MomOfJandM at 11:27 PM on Apr. 4, 2009

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