I’ve added some new decor to my kitchen counter. Resting next to our Days to Go and Days Done Jars is the new addition to our collection. This one is reserved for Can’t Never Cash.
The Young One’s first grade teacher gave me the idea when my daughter came home from school after the first day. Mrs. M had banned the word “easy” from her classroom, I learned. Her philosophy is that what is easy for one child is not necessarily easy for another and using that word during a classroom exercise might make a child believe herself to be less intelligent or athletic than her peers.
I like the idea. We should not set up our children, or our friends (in the case of the Young One and her classmates), for failure because of our own concept of what is challenging and what is not. It defeats them before they have even started.
Which is why I have declared a ban on the words, “Can’t” and “Never” in my home and around my child. I cringe every time I hear them coming from the Young One’s mouth. I have tried to instill in her the belief that she can do anything if she just sets her mind to it, and I have been successful. My daughter believes she can do anything…right up to the point where things get difficult, and then “Can’t” and “Never” creep in and steal all her confidence.
I am happy to say my daughter reads above her grade level, but the minute she sees a new word, she struggles with the letter combination, throws the book down and declares, “I’m never gonna be able to read!”
I long for her to practice independence, but when the loops on her shoes aren’t perfect or the zipper catches on her jacket or the picture she’s drawing doesn’t look like what she sees in her mind, she stomps her feet and cries, “I can’t do it,” with a desperation that breaks my heart.
Those words sound particularly grating when uttered by another adult in reference to my child’s ability and are decidedly evil when said directly to her. Recent examples include, “You can’t carry that bag. It’s too heavy.” “Football is for boys. You’ll never play that.”
“Can’t” and “Never” are absolutes. They leave no room for possibility and are roadblocks to achievement. Once uttered, they make you stop. They make you question your abilities, and they make you doubt.
Their negativity goes against everything I try to teach my daughter. Just because a bag of canned goods is heavy today, doesn’t mean it will be heavy forever. Her arms will grow and her muscles will strengthen, but she won’t know how strong they have become if someone else’s “Can’t” makes her afraid to try.
I want my daughter to believe in herself even when the task gets hard. I want her to push away the obstacles with a mantra of, “I can do this!” I want her to ask for help when she needs it but not give in and have someone else do it for her. In hard situations, I want her to be able to look back on her past experiences and remember times when she overcame the odds. I want that memory of her achievement to power her through the rough patch.
So, today if you come to my house, and you dare to speak the words “Can’t” or “Never”, be prepared to pay the price. Just drop your spare change or your bills into the glass jar marked “Can’t $ Never $”.
There is a price to pay for negativity. I prefer that it be a few pennies in a jar for an accidental slip up instead of the robbing of the confidence from my child.