“Can Do” Guy

Everybody loves Sam.


He has a magnetic personality. He is very expressive. He is the best story teller.

Every teacher he has tells us, “I love Sam”. They compliment him on his leadership skills, but remind him he needs to be careful with where he leads his friends:) He has a bit of a devilish side.

Being the baby of 5 kids in BOTH his homes (he has two step brothers at his Mom’s home too) he has grown up quickly. He can be extremely independent, but at the same time can sometimes get people to do a lot of stuff for him because of his cuteness and his “baby in the family” position.

The other morning we were getting ready to leave for school. I was packing up my stuff to head off to work after I walked Sam and Josh to school, and I told Sam to put his shoes on.

He went over to put them on, noticed that they had a double knot (which they always do) and immediately asked me to untie it for him. Busy doing my own thing, I glanced at the knot, then said to him “You are 8 buddy, I think you can undo this knot.”

He did.

He put his shoes on.

When he was almost done tying them, I said to him:

“I want you to try to be a “can do” guy”.

He looked at me quizzically.

“When you come across something you think you may not be able to do, I want you to try it. I want you to throw yourself into the task. I want you to give it your all. I want you to tell yourself over and over again, “I can do this” and then, I want you to do it. If after you have given it your best shot, and you still can’t do it, then I want you to ask for help. Deal?”


As we walked to school we talked about how everyone has things they are scared of doing, or think they can’t do, don’t want to do, or maybe just don’t feel like even trying. I shared with him how many times I have to talk my way through something, telling myself “I can do it.”

And off to school he went.


Then next morning, we were getting ready for school again.

Sam was putting on his shoes, again.

“Leah?” (One of Sam’s famous traits is he says your name before almost every sentence he says. It is too darn cute) He continued, “You know you were right. I tried that thing and it works.”

“What thing?”

“That “can do thing“. I tried it yesterday. It really works. Every time I felt like I couldn’t do something, I told myself “I can do this” and it worked! I could do it!”

He was so proud. He shared with me the things that he had been able to do. I shared with him how I had used “I can do” the day before too.

As much as he is the baby in the family and there are lots of helping hands around, and as much as sometimes it is easier and faster to just do things for him, I don’t want him to fall into the “learned helplessness” trap. I want my kids to feel empowered, to feel they can tackle challenges, and to gain self esteem and confidence from knowing that they can do hard things.

Sam told me he was going to be a “Can do” guy:)


(Just as a side note, while Sam and I needed to have this “Can do” talk, some of my other guys need to have the “It’s ok to ask for help” talk. Every child is so different. Some need to be pushed. Some need to be pulled. And  all will likely need one talk or another at different stages in their life. I need  those talks every once in a while too.)




“Can Do” Guy — 29 Comments

  1. Great post!!! Do you think being the youngest plays a role in those who need the “can do” talk and those who need the “it’s OK to ask for help” talk?
    I’m an oldest child and hate to ask for help but I know my sister (the baby) probably needed more of the can do talks.
    Kim recently posted…Some Thoughts Are Better Left UnsaidMy Profile

    • Hmm- interesting point! Need to think more about that! I actually see that there is a difference between my biological kids and my step kids which make me also wonder how much is genetics, and how much is really early upbringing too.

  2. You’re right, Leah – different kids need different talks. My youngest is more likely to ask for help than my oldest. He is also the kid who, like Sam, starts most sentences with the name of the person he is talking to – it is adorable.
    Dana recently posted…The spirit singsMy Profile

  3. I want to be a “can do” girl. Every now and then I try it full speed ahead for maybe a week or even a month at a time. Each time, I’m stunned by how much I can do that I didn’t know I could do.
    Then exhaustion, and confidence issues and the like plague me and I become a “can’t do” girl for awhile.
    It comes back around, though.
    Go Sam!
    Tamara recently posted…Life. You’re Doing It Right. (Sometimes)My Profile

    • Me too! I find I go in cycles and every once in a while have to have a little talk with myself (“I can do” talk or a “It’s ok to ask for help” talk)

  4. Oh Leah- this is just so precious!! I just love that Sam took to heart your words and advice and look how it transformed him!! You must be a proud mama!! And you’re so right- every child is different and each stage is different. But you nailed this one my dear!! XO
    Chris Carter recently posted…Devotional Diary: PeaceMy Profile

    • It’s often hard to figure out who needs what talk, and when! And to have this talk to inspire confidence as opposed to make it look like I don’t want to help!

    • Oh, yeah! I know what you mean! But, beware, sometimes having “can do” talks with your step kids can be interpreted by *others* as you are not willing to help the child and are too hard on them.

  5. What a handsome young man! I can see how he can charm others to do things for him. I love the “can do” talk. It’s something I think we all need to hear every once in awhile. It’s great that he has embraced it wholeheartedly. And you’re right – sometimes we need both the “can do” speech and the “it’s okay to ask for help” talk. 🙂
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted…How To Protect Your Blog Against A Brute Force AttackMy Profile

    • What we tell ourselves really does shape our thoughts, words and actions. Like that famous quote – “Watch your words” by Margaret Thatcher.

    • I have some “get frustrated easily” kids too. I find it so hard to watch as I know they are making it ten times harder on themselves by inviting frustration in!

  6. Can you come to my house and have that talk with my kids? You are an amazing mom, Leah. The gift you gave to him is one I really need to give to my kids. Thank you for this reminder and I hope you don’t care that I am going to use your words (exactly) when I talk to my kids. 🙂
    AnnMarie recently posted…Family Pictures 2013My Profile

    • Thanks Ann Marie! I think you are an awesome Mom too and am so glad we found each other!! I have used your exact words before (I read my kids your letter about technology!)

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