“Yes, you can.”

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I love to give permission for my kids to do things they enjoy, particularly in the summertime. The season goes by so quickly in Minnesota, it’s tempting to pack as much activity in as possible. “Yes, you can,” is heard a lot at our home. I suppose you could call me an enabler.

upset boy against a wallBut I prefer being another kind of enabler—one that says “Yes, you can!” when they feel uncertain about their abilities. One of the greatest challenges they’ll face is their own self-diminishment. Taking thoughts captive and replacing untruth with truth is one of the hardest skills to master. As their dad, I want to help them recognize early the symptoms of stinkin’ thinkin’ (as Zig Ziglar calls it) and encourage them to say to themselves, “Yes. I can.”

These suggestions may help you become that kind of enabler as well:

  • Be a detective. It’s likely your kids are harboring self-defeat in some form. Like a detective, look for evidence of stinkin’ thinking. But tread lightly. You don’t want to push the culprit back into hiding.
  • Inquire about new experiences. Has your child picked up a new friend recently or started a new activity? The start of any new endeavor is often filled with self-doubt. Ask about their new experiences and listen carefully to their responses.
  • Explore abandoned experiences. Has your child recently abandoned a sport, hobby, or other social activity? Not every activity is meant to last forever, but sudden loss of interest may be a clue that your child has hit the internal wall of self-doubt.
  • Encourage replacement challenges. Find challenges that stretch and don’t break. If possible join them in it and encourage them along the way.
  • Pray for break-through moments. Sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of detective work to discover self-defeating thinking in our kids. Saying, “you shouldn’t think that way” is usually not effective. That’s when it’s best to pray for a break-through moment. These are times when a shared experience becomes a teachable moment. A shared experience affords the opportunity to talk about the experience together and share how you worked through your own self-doubt.

What suggestions have you found helpful for enabling a “Yes, I can” belief in your children?

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2 Responses to ““Yes, you can.””

  1. David Copeland Says:

    Most of all I think it just as much involves being there looking for the moment. The more I am with more my son, the more opportunity I have to enable. At the same time, “Yes I can” means sending him off on some task or trip with confidence he will succeed without me. Letting go is as much an enabling behavior now that he is getting older (11). Thank you for the nice post.

  2. Leary Gates Says:

    Thanks David! I agree. More time=more opportunity to encourage to take those first steps to independence. Eleven is a fun age!

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