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Sunday, January 25, 2015

The I Can't/Won't Child

One of E's most frustrating personality traits that has come out more and more in the last year or so is an attitude of "I CAN'T" or he WON'T even try.

It comes out the most during new physical activities like skating and swimming lessons.

I get that not everyone wants to try everything, and he's never been the type to jump right into new situations and activities. I don't want to force him to do anything,  but what thing I find particularly frustrating are

1) he gets so excited about new activities beforehand and then breaks down in tears at the first sign of not being able to do it perfectly right off the bat,

2) claiming he can't do something even though he doesn't try (or, even more frustrating, when he CAN do it), and

3) breaking down into tears because he tries to do something new, does it, and then I  (gasp!) cheer him on.

It pushes me to the breaking point every times this happens. It is beyond frustrating to me. Why can't he just TRY? Who cares if he can't do it perfectly right away? Why does everything have to end in tears? Why can't he just have fun trying (sometimes he doesn't and sometimes he loves it and can't wait to go to the next lesson, but it's a crapshoot what his attitude will be like the next time)?

Both DH and I are totally flummoxed by this and don't know what to do. We don't want him to give up on things so easily, but we don't want to force him into things either.

What worries me is that he'll become so afraid to try new things that a) we're going to start thinking twice about signing him up for classes/lessons or buying him new things (like a bike) because we don't want him to give up and essentially waste the time and money, and b) I don't want this attitude to keep him away from so many cool things in life.

Any thoughts or advice from parents who have been there, done that, with this kind of attitude?