There’s so many things we want our kids to do. To succeed at. To respond to. And so many things we expect them to do.
And when they don’t, we can’t stop ourselves from saying it.
“”Why can’t you just…?!”
Why can’t you just do your homework and get it over with?!
Why can’t you just finish what’s on your plate?!
Why can’t you just put your shoes where they belong so you can find them in the morning?!
Why can’t you just listen to the teacher and do what you’re supposed to?!
Why can’t you just do what the other kids in your class do and follow the rules?!
Everyone else does it, why can’t you. I have no problem doing this, why can’t you.
Why can’t you just ….
It happens in school. Frustrated and impatient teachers look at their students and say, “Why can’t you just…?!”
Irate principals reach out to parents and exclaim, “Why can’t your child just ….?!”
It happens in any and every close relationship; this line sneaks in…
Between spouses; Why can’t you just …?!
These four words are a red flag. The brightest of reds you can find.
They are a reason to freeze you in your tracks and think.
Think of things you might want to do but can’t just do them. You also just can’t. It takes time, work and patience to achieve change.
Because we are not machines. We are not robots or computers. We can’t “just.” There’s a mind and heart involved too. And when we start the “why can’t you just” rant, we are bulldozing right through the heart and mind of the other person, as if it doesn’t exist.
Why can’t you just?!
Because I can’t. I can’t just.
I can discuss, think, practice, brainstorm and many other things in order to find solutions and make changes. But I can’t just. And neither can you. It just doesn’t work like that. And it’s a feature, not a bug. We are designed as humans to be so different than each other. To think differently from one another, have different interests, have different personalities. What comes easy for you doesn’t come easy for me, and what comes easy for me doesn’t come easy for you. And there’s a beauty to it!
So look out for the next time those words start slipping out and stop the bulldozer before it attacks … are we trying to build or break?
As the new school year starts, I turn to you, the teachers and principals who will spend so many hours with each of my children every day and on behalf of parents everywhere, I beg:
See each child for who they are, and not for what they’re not. See their talents and strengths, and not just where they fall short. No child wakes up in the morning and says today I want to fail and make my teacher kick me out of class. Every single child wants to succeed. And they will, if they can. And if they are not succeeding, it is you and I, the adults in their life, who need to step up and help them. And the mindset of “Why can’t you just” won’t lead them to success. Be patient and believe in them.
Take a moment to remember that we are talking to little humans, not machines. And I can guarantee you, the results will probably be a lot better too.