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to think 'you can do anything if you try' is not a helpful message?

(84 Posts)
ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:01:37

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

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:03:33

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?

thebody Mon 13-May-13 18:04:20

I agree. I am beyond crap at maths.

The message is better ''we are all excellent at something but we can try anything'

Goldchilled7up Mon 13-May-13 18:05:06

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' smile

FattyMcChubster Mon 13-May-13 18:05:56

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.

exoticfruits Mon 13-May-13 18:07:00

A better one is not to say 'I can't' BUT 'I will try'.

insancerre Mon 13-May-13 18:07:09

But if you never tried you would never achieve anything.
The emphasis is on the trying, not on the achieving.

thebody Mon 13-May-13 18:07:53

Or ' what a man can do is ok, what a woman can do is awesome'

Nagoo Mon 13-May-13 18:10:16

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.

hopkinette Mon 13-May-13 18:10:21

what a man can do is ok, what a woman can do is awesome

What does this mean?

Goldchilled7up Mon 13-May-13 18:10:33

@the body, yes maybe It can be changed to 'what a man can do another women can do better' grinwink

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:12:02

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.

Nagoo Mon 13-May-13 18:13:18

I remember my friends DC flapping, Her dad tried to lift her up, and she said 'I CAN DO IT BY MYSELF!' grin

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:13:32

I was very careful to add without mechanical aids Nagoo. smile 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>

EggsMichelle Mon 13-May-13 18:14:58

All I read was your title had already I thought "well I can't sprout wings and fly no matter how hard I try!"

Nagoo Mon 13-May-13 18:17:21

I know what you were saying chased smile I just think that there are ways of achieving whatever you want, if you accept that you might have to modify the goal, IYSWIM smile

ChasedByBees Mon 13-May-13 18:22:57

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:

But I don't know why that meme about achieving anything persists.

Trill Mon 13-May-13 18:24:12


"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.

quesadilla Mon 13-May-13 18:26:16

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.

whatnowpolonius Mon 13-May-13 18:31:39

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

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 13-May-13 18:32:02

I think you need to gradually introduce realism into the situation as your children grow, but always with hope and positivity smile
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.

JugglingFromHereToThere Mon 13-May-13 18:33:00

Or posifrickentivity as I think it is on one thread grin

neolara Mon 13-May-13 18:33:58

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.

VerySmallSqueak Mon 13-May-13 18:37:59

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.

cory Mon 13-May-13 18:51:23

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.

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