Ask the Experts—Encouraging a “Can-Do” Attitude - MetroFamily Magazine
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Ask the Experts—Encouraging a “Can-Do” Attitude

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This month’s question:

"My son is so hard on himself when he makes mistakes. When he missed a play in a game, he wanted to quit the team. How can we encourage him to persevere?"

Kevin Tutty, LCSW:

"Motivational speeches can sometimes fall flat when kids fail at a task. This is one of the things that make competitive sports build so much character in our younger ones. You might be able to think about a time when you failed and were able to persevere through adversity. I like to use an example from my own life in which I was unable to persist when faced with a challenge and a time when I pushed through to the end. I know I have a much better feeling looking back on the times when I finished a difficult challenge than when I didn’t complete a task. Drawing on these experiences in your own life will help your son understand that it’s better for his character to push through difficult times, as well as show that we all have difficult times in our lives. It’s not a failure to fall—only if we don't get up and try again!"

Kevin Tutty, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice. Contact him at 405-431-6225.

Devonne Carter, LCSW:

"Show your child how to persevere. Talk to him about a task that is difficult for you, and allow him to watch you conquer the difficulty. Talk about how good it feels to overcome a challenge. Our self-esteem grows when we are able to learn something new, especially if it’s something we thought we would never figure out. The same thing happens for our children. When your child fails, remind him that we learn by failing. Continue to help him stick with the task. If you need to, help him visualize the big picture by telling him stories that relate back to successfully completing his task. Don’t do it for him—but do be his biggest cheerleader!"

Devonne Carter, LCSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Edmond. Contact her at 405-326-3923 or

Tamara Walker, RN:

"No one is perfect and that’s okay! Learning that failure is a stepping stone to success is a valuable life lesson. What he perceives as failures, such as a missed play, are the very things that can teach him how to improve his skills and increase his knowledge of the game—or any other endeavor. When we are able to view mistake and failures as learning opportunities and teachable moments, we are much more likely to succeed in the future."

"Seek out books, articles or videos about great athletes who play the same sport as your son. You’re sure to find stories of perseverance and dedication, athletes who didn’t give up when they missed a play or lost a game. For every successful goal made or home run hit, there are almost always many more misses in between. Even the best athletes don’t play perfectly. The very best NBA players, like OKC Thunder’s Kevin Durant, still miss 10 percent of their free throws. When we let go of perfectionism, which brings us down, then we can focus on enjoying the game and progressing towards success."

Tamara Walker RN is a talk show host and speaker in Edmond. Contact her at

Our readers respond:

  • “If he quits, then he can not learn from the mistake he made. If you’re not making mistakes, you are not learning.”
  • “Ensure him we all make mistakes, then relate to him on a mistake you made recently so he can see it happens and it’s okay.”
  • “Talk to him about the idea that perfection is unattainable, and about all we can do it our personal best in any situation. Assure him that your love and approval are not consistent upon him being the very best—but merely by being the best he can be. Remind him that the fun of life is in the journey—and encourage him to focus on the moment and enjoy every aspect of his life, no matter how imperfect.”

Thanks to Anita B., Trina M., and Caroline E. for your feedback!

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