Are You Raising an “I Can’t” or an “I’ll Try” Exceptional Kid?

Parents of exceptional children often have the mindset that their kidlet either can or cannot do something. For some reason, whether academic or social, parents have this predetermined idea that their child’s fate has already been set. Either way, parents who show their child direction ahead of time,usually see differences in attitudes once he or she enters the teenage years.

Oftentimes, we struggle with the term “disability” or what’s “wrong’ with our child. But how about what’s “right” with our child? The early years are important because it sets the tone for the adolescent years. This includes determination as well as motivation. When our children are young, they are our biggest fans; they believe us. Parents have this leverage so we should use it to our advantage.

Feel the vibes

I think it goes without saying that positive energy can move mountains. That being said, kids pick up on our own emotions. Our attitudes decide our children’s attitudes. The “I can’t” students are the ones that hear their parents say it; or worse yet, refer to the child that way. Parents should take those two words out of their vocabulary. Even if your kidlet “can’t” do something, albeit, with a successful outcome, they can sure try.

Keep in mind, that exceptional children are successful at their own level. For the “typical” person, whatever measure that might be, achievement might be at a higher scale. Success for one is still success, but to another it might be failure.

A mirror image

One of my favorite theorists of all time, Charles Horton Cooley, identified a reason why we react to others the way we do. The “looking-glass self” states that “we develop a self-image that reflects how others respond to us.” According to this concept, we internalize others’ reactions of us and whether these ideas are true or not, we believe it and form our personalities based on others’ perceptions. So, when we say the words, “he can’t” or “she can’t” out loud, our children internalize the very idea that–in fact, they “can’t.”

A more powerful statement, “he can” or “she can” has the power to shape attitudes at a very early age.

The sky is the limit

As parents, we really have no idea what our child’s limitations are. We only know what we see. Providing unique ways to challenge and push the limit enhances skills.

Parents should understand that sometimes our children’s best might be someone else’s “good enough.”

It’s all in the delivery folks. If we encourage the effort for children with a disability, whose skills are already limited, success will ultimately follow.



Ritzer, George. 2013. Essentials of Sociology. Sage Pub. Thousand Oaks, Ca. p. 159.

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