There are various reactions when I say to people our kids aren’t allowed to ‘try’ things. They are usually negative, except for the occasional person who looks at me and just smiles.
The explosive negative reactions sometimes die down – after I’ve endured another lecture. I tend to walk away or change the subject after those reactions. At other times people are genuinely curious and I’m then happy to explain.
Our Kids Do or They Don’t.
Mr Three wants to climb the fence. He does or he doesn’t. He began when he was very small by climbing up one plank. By the time he was two he could climb to the top of the fence. From then on he had about six months when he wobbled as he lifted his leg to get over the top. So he didn’t climb for a while. But, he was soon back at it. He’s competently climbed over the fence for almost a year now. He didn’t climb over and then he did. No trying involved.
Our middle son was pretty much the same when he learned to ride his bike without training wheels. He asked Craig to remove the trainers when he was about two and a half. He couldn’t ride the bike. He couldn’t ride the bike. He couldn’t ride the bike. Just after he turned three and a half, he went outside one day while I was busy and rode his bike. He didn’t and then he did.
The header photo is of our 10 year-old, who one day decided to cut the bottom off a 2litre milk bottle and use it to blow a really big bubble. He didn’t manage and then he did.
Both the older boys are expected to be kind, work hard and have fun. There is no need to try. They are kind to other people and animals or they aren’t. They either do their best work or they don’t. They use their manners or they don’t. They have a great time and know when to stop at the natural end of the joke or they don’t.
They also know they can choose to do or not to do, but they don’t get to choose the consequences.
They are kind to people = People are more often than not kind to them.
They are mean to people = No one wants to play with them or have anything to do with them.
They work hard at school = They achieve as well as they can.
They don’t work hard at school = The rest of their schooling isn’t going to be as easy as it could be.
They use their manners = They get more adult input and conversation.
They don’t use their manners = They are ignored and dismissed by adults.
They have fun = They get the endorphin (etc) rush.
They don’t know where the natural end to the fun is = They get a shot of cortisol as someone expresses their discontent or the cat scratches them.
TRYING is not an option. TRYING means they aren’t doing. TRYING makes them victims. TRYING teaches them that they have no control in their lives. That is why TRYING is banned in our house.