Self Esteem Boosters for Tots Who Say "I Can't!"

Cynthia Dermody
boost toddler's self esteem

Photo by BrettMommy08

One minute your toddler will act like he can take on the world -- paint a Rembrandt, score the winning goal in his brother's soccer game, or help Daddy repair the car with the (yikes) hammer.

Don't be surprised if one day he does a total switcharoo and says, "I can't do it!" for just about everything, either because he really believes it or he just doesn't want to.

"I don't know what to do!," says JanuaryBaby06, whose 3 1/2 year old is going through this phase.

"We make an extra effort to not say things like that in front of him," she says. "I try to say 'Oh, baby, you can do it' or 'There isn't anything you can't do' or 'Reach for the moon and it's yours!' We cheer when he does something good and let him know how proud we are. I just don't want him to have low self-esteem or a really hard time with school work. What can I do?"

This seems to be the age. Other moms of 3 and 4 year olds in Stay At Home Moms say they are dealing with this, too. Here are some confidence and behavior-changing tactics that seem to be working for them:

-- When my son gets frustrated with something, I tell him to slow down, yes, you can do it, and I walk him through what ever it is step-by-step. He seems to be calmer about it once I talk him through it.

-- I finally got so tired of it that I told my daughter "can't" is a bad word. She got in trouble every time she used it. I know it sounds cruel, but she used it for everything she didn't want to do, including eating and brushing teeth.

-- You have to be kind of cold. My son has autism and I stay strong on everything because with him a bit of wiggle room means I lose control over him. If your son asks to do something and then says he can't do it, don't feel bad. Just say, "That's your choice if YOU don't want to do it." Make sure he knows its not you that's making the choice. Then, the next time that it comes around, ask him "Are you going to do it?" -- Amy385

What do you say when your toddler claims "I can't do it!" when you know he really can or at least needs to try?

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