Now that school is underway, you’re likely to hear a few phrases from your kids.

I can’t.

I’m bored.

I don’t have any friends.

As a former third grade teacher and a mom, I’ve heard these many times. So, I’m going to give you some answers to give your kids when you hear them say the following about school or schoolwork.

I can’t.

This usually happens around homework time. So, hang this little diddy on the fridge for future reference.

When you say that “you can’t,” you’re right.

You can’t.

Not now.

But “you will.”

“You will” if “you try.”

You’re going to fail.

Big time.

Flat on your face fail.

But that is the first step to “I can.”

I know it seems odd, but that’s the way it works.

Because “I’ll try” means “I’m not going to do this right the first time” and “I’m going to need to do it again and again.”

“I’ll try” always comes before “I can.”

But not if you stop at “I can’t.”

So, the next time you feel yourself saying “I can’t,” say “I’ll try” instead. Pretty soon you’ll be saying, “I can.”

This is boring.

Now this can come in all forms. School is boring. Homework is boring. The teacher is boring. Math is boring. Whatever it might be.

As a teacher, I always had the following quote written at the top of my dry erase board:

“In order to find something interesting, you must first be interested.” I’m not sure who the author of this quote is, but I’m pretty sure they’re a genius.

Every year I would teach it to my kids and let them know my job was to teach, but their job was to be interested in learning it. Of course, teachers need to do their best to present material in an exciting and engaging manner, but children have a responsibility, too. They have to enter in with a good attitude. A curious mind. Ready to be interested in learning something new.

When your child tells you that school is boring, tell them it’s their job to be interested. If it’s a particular subject matter, have them come up with two or three questions they want answered. Asking questions is a first step to being curious and “being interested.”

I don’t have any friends.

My three-year-old said this to me at the park this summer. Her older brother runs off making friends with the first person or stick he sees, and she’s playing tag-a-long. She hasn’t quite figured out how to make others do what she wants. That’s pretty much what “friend” means to her at the moment. But, for our school age children, this is a problem as well.

Some kids are better at making friends than others. I think it’s always good to remind them that in order to have a friend, you have to be a friend, but that doesn’t necessary mean people are going to want to play with you.

We always say “find your tribe” to adults, and I think it’s the same for kids, too. Talk with your kid about hanging out with people who have similar interests. Talk to your kid about engaging other kids who don’t seem to have many friends at recess. There’s always a few kids in every class that have trouble creating a friend group. But, that’s not a bad thing. They just may be more of a one-on-one friend person. Help your child pinpoint who in their class could benefit from having a friend and be their friend. As a teacher, I would always pair up kids on the playground that seemed to just wander around not knowing quite how to join the crowd. They always ended up playing well together.

And here’s one phrase that our kids should constantly be hearing from us…

It’s okay. 

It’s okay if you try and try and still can’t do something. Because there are plenty of things you can do. 

It’s okay if you truly find something boring. Because there are plenty of things to be excited about and one boring thing isn’t going to kill you.

It’s okay if you don’t have “any” friends. Because you will. In different seasons. At different times. We develop awesome friendships that grow and change and fade and make new friends throughout our lives. 

Letting our kids know that “this too shall pass” and to keep moving forward with a good attitude, will help them see the bigger picture. 

Sherry White

Sherry White writes about the messiness of life, parenting, and faith at her blog The Messy Christian. She tries to add her own brand of humor and insight into everyday issues we all face, reminding us that even though we find ourselves in countless messes, God’s grace lights the way. She would be thrilled if you follower her on Facebook and Instagram.