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How many times have you thought, said, or felt this phrase? It is an expression of frustration that plagues many when learning new tasks. For many children, it can turn into a mantra. How do you help?

A parent’s natural reaction is to say, “Yes you can.” We know that with a little time and practice, those multiplication tables will be learned. However, children live in the present when speaking about their learning. At that moment, they are right. They do not know how to do it. Telling them that they can feels like a lie and causes arguments. How amazing is it that adding 3 little letters can change all of this? The magic letters are Y-E-T.


How different does that feel? It lets your child know that they are in the middle of a process. Those 3 small letters allow them to have their moment of frustration and then move on.

Here’s how this was used with my child:

Child : I hate circles!

Me: You hate circles? That’s a very strong feeling for a shape. (joking helps sometimes)

Child: No. I hate finding the circumference of a circle. I can’t do it!

Me: I remember doing that it school. It took me some time to figure it out.

Child: I’m just so frustrated!

Me: I hear you. You feel so frustrated that you can’t do it yet. (parenting ninja yet insertion)

Child: It’s going to take forever to learn it!

Me: Forever?

Child: (rolls eyes) Ok, an hour then.

Me: Why don’t you take 5 and then come back to it.

Child: Fine.

After 5 minutes, he calmed, went back to it and finished. It took him 15 minutes. There was no argument. He just moved on down the road.

Yet implies success. It lets children and adults know that although they feel frustrated now, it is a temporary bump on the road to success.

I challenge you to add yet next time you or your children feel overwhelmed by learning a new task. You might be surprised how quickly the frustration will dissipate.

Up next in our series on Growth Mindset is “Asking Growth Questions”.