to think 'you can do anything if you try' is not a helpful message?(84 Posts)
I've just watched something on ceebeebies where the moral of the story was 'you can do anything if you try'.
Well no, I can't fly without mechanical aids, I can't invent a new col
Ah frick, I pressed send.
I can't invent a new colour (and I tried for ages very hard as a child. I got lots of brown) and I couldn't win X factor (not that I'd want to but millions of kids try very very hard to do that.
Would I be crushing my DCs hope to say there are some things you can't do no matter how hard you try?
I agree. I am beyond crap at maths.
The message is better ''we are all excellent at something but we can try anything'
Within reason I agree, and children should believe in aiming high. A good motto can be 'what a man can do another man can do'
No, it's realistic. My brother has A disability and it was heartbreaking telling him there were job he could never do but we did it in a sensitive manner and he was ok about it.
A better one is not to say 'I can't' BUT 'I will try'.
But if you never tried you would never achieve anything.
The emphasis is on the trying, not on the achieving.
Or ' what a man can do is ok, what a woman can do is awesome'
But you can fly with mechanical aids. So the aim was to fly, and people found a way to do it. It's good to be ambitious.
what a man can do is ok, what a woman can do is awesome
What does this mean?
@the body, yes maybe It can be changed to 'what a man can do another women can do better'
Insancerre - I don't think it's about suppressing an attempt at trying, but it's about accepting that you might fail. I think if you believe 'you can do anything if you try' then if you find you can't, it's because you've not tried hard enough or there's just something wrong with you. I can't break the laws of physics for example and
I finally accept that.
I remember my friends DC flapping, Her dad tried to lift her up, and she said 'I CAN DO IT BY MYSELF!'
I was very careful to add without mechanical aids Nagoo. And it would be so much fun to be able to zoom around like superman or swim through the air. <getting away from my original point somewhat>
All I read was your title had already I thought "well I can't sprout wings and fly no matter how hard I try!"
I know what you were saying chased I just think that there are ways of achieving whatever you want, if you accept that you might have to modify the goal, IYSWIM
Yes I was wondering about modifying the goal.
I do think praising effort is really important and this article really struck a chord with me: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9862693/Praise-childrens-effort-not-their-intelligence.html
But I don't know why that meme about achieving anything persists.
"Don't give up" is a silly message.
"Don't give up too soon " is better, but requires help on how to tell if it is too soon or not.
It depends what you mean... I think a culture of encouraging children to aim high and not to ever write something off as not for people like us is important. Any parent who teaches their kids a certain profession is off limits for our sort wants shooting, for example.
On the other hand some parents go too far to the other extreme. There does need to be a dose of realism about what's achievable within a given set of circumstances.
I also agree. Trying is good, and you don't get good things without trying. But sometimes you can't get good things even if you really try.
It winds me up that this seems to have been hijacked by the current government to penalise people who need help: 'You're not really trying.' The whole strivers vs skivers thing really boils my piss. The fact is, sometimes shit just happens regardless of how virtuous you are or how hard you've 'tried'.
Equally there are lots of very successful/rich people who really don't work that hard. Compare a director of a global multinational who lives in a nice house, 20 min commute to work, someone brings them nice food when they want it, they write emails all day. Yes, sometimes hours are long but ime that is exaggerated. Compare that to someone who cleans the office, who may have to commute 2 hours to get there because London rent is so ridiculous, may work 2 jobs because 1 doesn't pay a living wage etc. They are fucking trying, and they still don't have what the other chap has for doing, tbh, about half the work.
Got a bit sidetracked there, sorry
I think you need to gradually introduce realism into the situation as your children grow, but always with hope and positivity
I think "you can do anything you want to do" is rather lazy thinking really, though it might initially sound good.
I'd rather tell my DCs they are wonderful etc. etc. and I'll always love them.
Or posifrickentivity as I think it is on one thread
Well I think there is something about learning from mistakes. E.g. Child does really badly in spelling test. Instead of just accepting that child is crap at spelling, maybe there is something about recognising there are lots of genuine alternative reasons why they may have done badly. Such as..... teachers haven't found the right way to teach spelling to that child yet (e.g. not enough emphasis on phonics), too little time practising spelling, child is distressed by something so can't concentrate, child gets anxious around tests etc. Lots of different reasons which suggest alternative strategies that child can try. I'm not saying everyone can become the "Yussain Bolt" of spelling, but who really knows what anyone can achieve if they seriously put their mind to it.
I think it's a shit message.
It's a load of bollocks.
I think it's more important to say that you should approach everything in life with the determination to do what you set out to do,and the humour to laugh about it if you don't succeed.
Some goals are unattainable.
But at times the journey counts.
Very much agree with this, Juggling: "I think "you can do anything you want to do" is rather lazy thinking really, though it might initially sound good".
My db spent a great part of his childhood practising the violin with the hope of becoming a soloist. He had a famous maestro, who was an excellent teacher, and a concert violin built by a famous intstrument maker, he practised many hours a day. After his first year at conservatory he was told that there was an inherent stiffness in his fingers which meant he would simply not be able to reach the heights he had hoped for. What somebody should have done would have been to have talked through the possible outcomes and the need for a plan B. Instead he was brought abruptly to earth at the age of 19 and had to start a whole new life. He didn't touch a violin for 10 years afterwards.
If I had set my heart on becoming a ballet dancer there is no way I would have had the physical build.
I see it from time to time at my university: students who work desperately hard and simply do not have the intellectual capacity. It is very sad, it feels so unfair when others don't have to work at all and understand things straightaway.
You can often do lots more than you think you can if you try.
No, we cannot all be good at everything, but that's no reason to not give it your best shot. I'll never be great at maths, but I worked very hard at it so that at least I'm not bamboozled by basic arithmetic, fractions etc.
I'm one of those that applies themselves to a task, and consequently succeed more often than not and surprising myself in the process.
If you fail at something, try and try again or practice makes perfect would be better lessons to teach.
Disclaimer I hate the words perfect and fail but I cant think of any proverb/quote to explain just because you can't do it at first, it doesn't mean you'll never be able to do it and the more you practice, the better you'll get.
I think that many children will understand the sayings as there were times that they couldn't walk/ride a bike or whatever but they can do it easily now because they were brave and went for it and practiced the skill.
And you invent new colours all the time if you worked at Farrow and Ball
If you are realistic you can reach any realistic aim you set yourself. For example my DS loves history and wants to go to a top uni - he will not get innto oxford to read history but might if he combines it with classics and has an offer to do so; he has an offer to read history at Durham but needs more points for that than for the combined degree at oxford due to the competition over history. Ultimately he wants to be a war correspondent and has joined to TA towards achieving that aim. Not what his father and I would have chosen for him but we cannot criticise his tenacity and the way he has researched achieving his aims.
I think you shoud aim for the stars but be happy if you stop at a lingering cloud because just beyond it will be a rainbow of hope and cheerfulness.
I think "you can always get better at things" is a good thing to teach, "you can always achieve the level you want" not so much. I could get better at ballet dancing if I tried. I could never be a ballerina. Ds has got a lot better at football. But with his loose joints and flat feet he could never be a professional footballer. I think we need to recapture the sense that it is still worth doing things at an amateur level, even if they don't bring us fame and glory.
Hah. Years ago I had this very argument with a friend.
I said some people would never be physically able to run a marathon or climb Mt Everest. He said if they set their sights on running to the end of the road, and achieved that instead, it would be like the same thing.
Amusingly, I then became seriously ill while another friend was indeed scaling Everest. We compared notes afterwards, and walking to the end of the road was harder for me than his (with oxygen) climb.
But I can definitively state: it ain't the same thing. View's nowhere near as good.
Yeah, you can do anything if you want to enough.
I spent hours jumping off things, flapping my arms (and sometimes a blanket) as a child convinced I would fly if only I tried hard enough.
Luckily I never wanted to or tried to swim the Atlantic.
I like that, marriedinwhite.
Dd wants to go into acting. We have had many discussions about the possibilities, the ind of thing your might be aiming for and what a suitable Plan B might be.
If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again.
With the emphasis on trying different approaches until you find one that works.
I think knowing when to give up is just as an important message, which we seem to ignore. Giving up can be a very good thing, the right thing, the thing that means you still have your health, your life, your well being.
I wish I'd known that giving up isnt the same as failing.
Most people have some talent or aptitude for something - a thing that they can do better than most with little effort. They will also have things that they find harder to do than other people. They will be better at whatever it is if they work at it. Success in any arena needs grit and hard work as well as luck and aptitude.
Life is not fair. In fact it quite often sucks.
No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings -William Blake
Success is 99 percent failure - Soichiro Honda
Works for me.
I think this phrase is loads better than the loathsome : "You can do anything: you've just got to BELIEVE." Lazy sods...
I think it's a brilliant message and you often hear successful people say that they were repeatedly told it by a parent or teacher. I think children pretty much work out for themselves that it doesn't apply to flying.
Our phrase is if you don't shoot you don't score.
So of course some things are impossible - that's a silly reason to discount the idea of effort.
I so,so agree that this message is not helpful. I teach in further education and I am absolutely fed up with students who have absorbed this belief. I can't tell you how many students won't accept that they haven't succeeded at something.
Parents and teachers seem to think that telling young people that wanting something or believing in yourself is enough. Add that to the X Factor mentality that if you give 110% you will be rewarded. There's also an element of a belief in 'because I'm worth it, I deserve it'
I went to a really crap school with very low aspirations,I know that's not good either. The trouble is the bolstering of self esteem that seems to go on nowadays has reached unrealistic levels.
You need very hard work,resilience and persistence to succeed. Plus perhaps some innate talent,an understanding of when to give up. And,finally,some humility. If you don't succeed at something maybe it's because it's not the right thing for you. We don't have the right to succeed at everything just because we want to.
chandellina Mon 13-May-13 20:23:33
"I think it's a brilliant message and you often hear successful people say that they were repeatedly told it by a parent or teacher. I think children pretty much work out for themselves that it doesn't apply to flying."
For every successful person who took on board this message, I reckon you could find auite a few failures, a few suicides and a number of people with seriously damaged health on the way.
What about young gymnasts who damage their bodies because they cannot accept their physical limitations?
Or university students who drive themselves into a breakdown because they cannot accept that getting top marks in their chosen degree is actually too difficult for them?
Or the X factor competitors with no talent who genuinely believe that practice and belief in oneself means you will succeed.
These are not unrealistic aims in the same sense as wanting to fly without wings. Clearly, some people can be world class gymnasts or graduate with top marks or become famous singers. But it may still be a totally unrealistic aim for one particular individual.
My brother worked extremely hard on his violin. He was not untalented. He had excellent tuition and belief in himself. But at the end of the day he didn't have the kind of talent it takes to become successful. He recognised that and decided to work in another field where he has achieved success. I have seen others who have not been able to change course collapse completely.
Some brilliant alternative, and more appropriate, messages here.
Love "If you don't shoot, you don't score," and, "Success is 99% failure."
This is an excellent video about the dark side of positive thinking.
The inverse is true though - you can't do anything if you don't try. I'm not sure how to phrase it more positively without implying that trying is enough (it's not).
Focussing on effort is important, because very little gets handed out for free, but without an outcome there isn't a lot of point... As Yoda said, "Do, or do not. There is no try."
I fell over in the street without trying just the other day. So that blows your theory right out of the water!
Hmm, I understand it's logically true (like flying without aids) but human endeavour is quite extraordinary and while some people are very talented, nobody achienves without huge effort, so I think encouraging striving is to be encouraged. Small example - I remember watching lee Mead in the "Joseph" thing and realising very early on that he would win because he simply wanted it more than the others and worked harder as a result.
Aim for the sky, and you get to the top of the tree. Aim for the top of the tree and you stay on the ground.
Applying any of these catchy little wise sayings without considering context or critical thought is unhelpful. Most of them have an equally 'true' but opposite counter-proverb.
many hands make light work
too many cooks spoil the broth
you get the idea.
Except for 'moderation in all things', including using motivational pep talk catchphrases.
I did my BA as a mature student, we have mature students in our workplace on placement. The main reason why many have waited until they are older to aim for HE, is because they were not given the confidence to do that whilst growing up. There was a ethos of "its not for the likes of you" in my school, in a deprived area, when it came to anything worthwhile, education, housing etc. So I think that we should wait to add realism to the message that we give to children. We have to ask ourselves why there is more self doubt and low self esteem/confidence about, than the opposite.
My point is that, that message is perfectly valid for the age range that enjoy CBB's.
Aim for the sky, and you get to the top of the tree. Aim for the top of the tree and you stay on the ground.
Ooh no I don't like that saying either. If I want to achieve something, I break it down into manageable steps and come up with a project plan of how I'm going to get there. This saying sounds to me... well, trite. It sounds like something you'd see on Facebook in a flowery font.
You can do anything if you try = if you don't try hard enough you will fail = it's my fault I have failed = keep trying at expense of health and happiness...
I am that person who married an abusive wanker, & ruined my health (two parallel evils, not one causing the other)...
All the time I was getting ill my ears were filled with 'you're just making a fuss, stop whining and try harder', off colleagues, family & friends. I made myself permanently and severely disabled as a consequence. I wish I had not internalised this ridiculous message and will not be teaching it to my son.
Also... I do think a universal characteristic of women who've been in abusive relationships, is their capacity to endure, to keep trying in the face of adversity.
One of the hardest things is to break is that pattern of enduring and trying and taking on the blame and responsibility ... not a good result of the 'try and you will achive' mantra
Surely anyone who has been in an abusive relationship, not just women.
If at first you don't succeed try, try again, then give up.
YANBU. A lot of those feel-good quotes are total rubbish if you stop and think about them!
YANBU! It's absolute bollocks and is preparation for the even bigger lie "If you can dream it, you can be it."
Dangerous, life-defeating shite, all of it.
Any behavioural psychologist will tell you that "Trying", as an objective, is self-defeating. Trying carries failure within it - you either do it, or you "try". Make the effort instead.
There's nothing wrong with aiming high, playing to your strengths, finding out how much you can do (it will be more than you thought, as long as you didn't buy this
superhuman positivity rubbish), and enjoying the effort. All of which people have done, very successfully, for thousands of years.
You'll be amazed at what you can do when you give it a go!
Just do your best, that's great!
Have a go, see if you want to learn how to do it better
Just don't fucking "try", OK?
I do think a universal characteristic of women who've been in abusive relationships, is their capacity to endure, to keep trying in the face of adversity.
Oh, YYY, Double
It feels as though we set crazy goals and then fail to meet the standard required
better to try to teach to be happy in yourself and in enjoying life no matter what you do
Another saying of course is 'setting yourself up for failure'
Loads can be achieved but it's all to do with realistic expectations and determination and drive and hard work.
And there is nothing wrong with failure if from the outset you allow that option and decide whatever the outcome you are going to learn something along the way.
I think it is quite possible to instill confidence in young children without going the whole "you can do absolutely anything" hog.
Teaching them to concentrate on trying hard for its own sake, because it is good and fun to try your absolute best at something you want to do, teaching them how to handle failure, teaching them to compete against themselves. Their confidence will grow as they see themselves improving.
"No point in trying" is a deadening message. But so is "if you try hard enough, you simply have to succeed". There are plenty of messages in between.
Enjoyed watching your video link Waffly - very interesting and really watchable with the accompanying cartoon visuals.
Agree. I've always thought this a foolish expression that has very little to do with reality.
Aim for the sky, and you get to the top of the tree. Aim for the top of the tree and you stay on the ground.
Surely that's saying "you will always see yourself as a failure"? Or "You will never achieve as good as your aim"?
Probably a better one for children would be "if at first you don't suceed, try and try again". Encouraging them to get up and give it another go if they didn't manage the first time.
Although the CBeeBies message I got very irritated about was Bob the builder: Spud does something having been told explicitly not to. Causes extra work for everyone else. Says "Aw sorry" and everyone says "that's okay" So it's okay to be deliberately naughty as long as you say "sorry" at the end.
Anyone who takes life advice from CBeebies is destined for trouble.
I don't agree with the premise of this thread.
There's nothing wrong with telling children that hard work pays off.
I very much doubt that many children are taken in by the idea that one can do literally anything if one tries hard enough. I remember someone making the same comment at me when I was about 8, and saying at no matter how hard I flapped my arms I wasn't going to fly.
What we should be telling children is that steady work means they will be just fine: if they want to be really good at something, hard work is required, and if they enjoy doing that thing, so much the better. We should also be telling them that it's OK if they don't have some great hidden talent. Most of us don't, after all.
In the meantime my DD1 tells me her teacher says "everyone's talented at something", and interpreting that as meaning she doesn't have to work to develop her talents.
I agree with Birds and Expat.
Adults should not take life advice from CBeebies. but there is nothing wrong with young children learning to aspire - after all someone has to be the next Jessica Ennis and why shouldn't a 3 yo dream it will be them?
as you get older it should be modified to add realism. I always think someone has got to get through this bad situation/win this thing and it could be you. if you act in a particular way, you can increase your chance of it being you. and it you don't try, chances are, it wont be you.
I think it's an important lesson that even the hardest work and effort doesn't always lead to success or good luck. Often it can pay off, but not always.
I don't agree with the right-wing ideology that "hard working people" always get what they deserve and anyone who has experienced setbacks or failures isn't "hard working" enough. Life just isn't that simple.
Society is over competitive and celebrity obsessed though don't you think Faster?
I don't especially want my DC's to aspire to be the next Jessica Ennis - I'd rather they just say "I can't decide which athletics event I like best Mum, they're all great" - I think that would be a better indicator that they had the right attitudes and skills mix to have some potential for success in that arena.
In any case my aspirations for them are more that they will be able to live happy and fulfilled lives. A degree of success in achieving their chosen aims and ambitions may be an element in this.
I guess the conservative philosophy is based on the idea that we could all "get on" if we "worked hard"
Illustrated by the idea that our DCs taking SATS this week should all reach the expected level 4, regardless of underlying ability and inherent individual differences.
As you say Decoy the diversity of people's skills, experiences, and circumstances makes it all a bit more complicated than that !
I wish I'd known that giving up isnt the same as failing.
And also, actually hard work doesn't always pay off. I read a lot of jobs and careers advice columns where people are absolutely convinced that they landed a particular job/career because they worked hard. What about all the people who worked hard, but didn't get the job that they got instead? What about people who are good at stuff that happens to be very competitive? Do those who don't get jobs/promotions all work less hard than all the people who do get jobs/promotions in less competitive sectors? Of course not. It makes no sense. But everyone is working off a sample of one and believes that correlation equals causation.
It is possible to really, really want a thing and work very, very hard at it and still have it not happen. That's ok, though. You are still the same person you were before. You are not diminished.
It has taken me the whole of the length of my childhood again to work this out, basically because of damaging messages like the one in the OP.
I had this exact conversation with my almost 14 year just last night. He told me I could do anything I wanted if I tried hard enough, I mentioned how I will never be able to fly and he said "yeah, it is a really silly thing to say now I think about it"
Someone once said to me that "effort can be a reward in itself". I think that's a really useful message (NOT for women in abusive relationships, obviously). I am one of the most hopelessly unathletic people you could ever dream of meeting. No matter how hard I would try I could never win a set of tennis or shoot a ball into a goal. However, through diligent effort I could enjoy the effect of becoming a little bit less awful each time, of knowing that I had got a bit sweaty, worked off some calories and stretched my muscles (which is, after all, the basic purpose of school sports). Equally, I could be top of the class in pretty much anything academic with no work but if I put in the effort, achieving that little bit more, understanding it a bit more deeply, not having the stress of flying by the seat of my pants I could find it a lot more satisfying.
Most things in life we won't 100% succeed at. Provided they were useful, realistic things to do in the first place we won't have failed by wasting our time if we can take something away from it and if we have provided something useful to someone else.
I suspect its a messaged aimed at the DC round here who by 3 are already well used to being told what they can't aspire to .
It does have some truth - as long as you allow for lateral thinking.
Instead of saying I can't grow wings so lets give up the whole flying thing - people thought well I can't grow wings how else can I experience flying - which give us stories, myths people created to all the technology that allows people now to experience flying in many differing ways.
The hard thing is knowing or accepting the point where it would be more productive to go and do something else.
juggling - i agree with some of what you say - i was seeing JE as sportswoman not celebrity. inspiring sport in general rather than heptathlon specifically.
there is good competition and bad completion. Good competition = doing your best, seeking self improvement, learning. bad competition = hating others beating you etc.
i think we have too much bad competition and too little good. and just because you try, it does not mean you will always succeed but you will get used to overcoming failure.
I think it's probably easier to make sense of for children of you can show them something concrete; dd was struggling with something a while back (can't remember what), and I was able to remind her that she firstly hadn't been able to ride a bike, then not a bike with gears, the not one-handed, all of which she can do now, so she has demonstrable achievements through trying hard. So "look at what you achieve when you try, even though some days you thought you'd never manage" is better, if not so pithy, for us.
Yeah, but when you teach your child to ride her bike, you spend nearly all of the time going "Whoo-hoo, you're doing it! Clever girl!" If you started off by telling her to "try" and do hands-free wheelies, you'd be facing a long and miserable experience.
... sorry, missed off the bit that should have said you teach children to ride their bikes by promoting the joy inherent in making the effort - not starting from the premise they can do 'anything' if they 'try'.
'what a man can do is ok, what a woman can do is awesome'
'what a man can do another women can do better'
Hope that neither of you have sons
No, I meant I use the bike example to show her what she has achieved through trying, and help her to motivate herself through something tricky.
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