“Why don’t you try it?” Those five little words can make the difference in whether your children grow up timid or assertive, stifled or successful. The parent who harps on, “Don’t try that, you’ll get hurt! You’ll be laughed at! You’ll just be disappointed!” is sowing the seeds of either a future limited by anxiety and hesitation, or (if the child is strong-willed) a family relationship torn by conflict.
And remember, “try it” does not mean “make one halfhearted effort and give up if there are no immediate results.” Thomas Edison (who went through thousands of prototypes creating his great inventions) reportedly said there’s no such thing as failure until you give up, no matter how many approaches you find that don’t work. Edison knew the power of trying and continuing to try—as did J. K. Rowling, Abraham Lincoln, and hundreds of other famous names who would still be unknown had they discouraged easily. Don’t encourage your children to fear setbacks: encourage them to emulate people worth emulating.
If you still have doubts about something your child shows interest in, consider the following questions before automatically objecting “Don’t try it”:
“Try” can mean either “dip your toe in the water” or “keep at it until you win the Olympic gold.” What’s important is that it does not mean, “Always play it as safe as possible.” That’s the road to mediocrity and discontent.