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I'm Pam, and I'm glad you're here. I hope my thoughts on family, faith, and the flux of life help you laugh, fire you up or just make you think.

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turn pouting into possibility with one magic word

Do you wrestle with these conversation killers?

Girl
“I can’t do it.”

“I’m no good at this.” 

“No one wants to play with me.”

or from yourself:

“I’m not one of those big-time bloggers.”

or

“I haven’t written a real book.”

So often we parents argue, countering, “Yes, you can!”, generating a back-and-forth argument, and causing our partner (adversary?) to dig in her heels.  The “I can’t” person gets defensive, adding strength to the argument just to convince the other person she’s right.  It doesn’t seem to help at all, does it?  In fact, we sometimes end up more convinced the original statement is right — or perhaps understated — and further from encouragement. 

Instead, empathize and just add the magic word:

“You can’t do it. . . . YET.”

“Okay, you’re not good at this. . . YET.”

“Today, no one can play with you . . . YET.”

And tell yourself:

“I’m not one of those big-time bloggers. . . YET.”

“I haven’t written a real book. . . YET.”

See the difference?  Three little letters validate the sentiment, open up the conversation, shift emphasis toward the goal, and create a sense of possibility. 

I’m trying to work it in more often.  I’m not quite there yet.  But I can feel it coming.

Visit We are THAT Family  for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas.

Creative Commons License photo credit: nyki_mi

adapted from the archives

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10 comments to turn pouting into possibility with one magic word

  • oooh..love it! So easy, and so great! Thanks!

  • My children seem to always use the “I can’t . . .” phrase. This is so going to work for us! thanks!

  • I like this! A lot! I am going to try this on my very dramatic, very exaggeratory 5 year old!

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Stop by and visit me over at Free 2 Be Frugal sometime.

  • This is a wonderful idea. Thanks for sharing!

  • pam

    Thanks so much, friends! I find I need to tell myself this one all the time.

  • YET. LOL….so simple…and YET, I think it will work. Just hope I can remember to say it. LOL

  • Hi Pam – your column reminds me of a children’s sermon I heard YEARS and YEARS ago when I was around 8 or 9. (Amazing what we remember, isn’t it?) Anyhow – the sermon was based on something called ILAC which stands for “I Am Lovable and Capable”. The action for the parents was to write down those letters on a piece of construction paper for each child and put it on the fridge. Each “I can’t do that” or other discouraging remark meant tearing a piece off of the ILAC sign. At the end of the week, I remember sitting down with my parents and talking about how much I’d torn from the sign. The end result was me being able to feel more confident about the things I did and wanted to do and try. The goal of the project, of course, was to make it through the week without tearing anything off that sign. If I remember correctly, I never had a no tear week. Looking back on it as an adult, it was an amazing experiment for me. Maybe I should make a sign again – just as a simple reminder! :)

  • I LOVE this! SO much better than what I usually say, which is either “if it was easy, everyone would do it” or “if it was easy, it would be boring.”

    Thanks for this one!!! I’m thinking I’ll be using it during piano practice tomorrow. Ya know, I could benefit from saying it to myself as well!

  • I haven’t tried this…YET!

  • I do love this post! “Yet” models for kids a healthy mix of optimism, patience, and reality. This is great!

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