Happy Spring!!

Meet and Beat Can't-Do Crabbie!


Can't-Do Crabbie

"Anything New Is Not For You!"

Before talking about what I have learned to be key factors in beating Can’t Do, I want to share a story with you.

A few years back I was having my group sign autograph puppies I had bought for our end of year celebration. Each child wrote their name on each of the other children’s dogs. I gave each child a piece of paper so that they could practice signing their name before moving onto the puppies. One little girl who had been writing her name perfectly all year, could not for the life of her write it without writing some of the letters backwards. Finally, after she tried so many times, I said, “Let’s wait and try again after your Power-Up.” (We call naps Power-Ups.) Honestly, I was baffled, and I just needed a break. She was one who typically did not take a full nap. I reminded her to close her eyes and not wiggle so that she could rest up and maybe that would help her be able to think better and maybe she would be able to correctly sign her name when she got up. I stressed the maybe because it seemed like a long shot given how many times she had not been able to do it and knowing that she was only going to be resting for twenty minutes. It was shocking, and sooo exciting for both of us when she got up from her Power-Up and could write her name perfectly! After this experience I began to notice that this was not an anomaly. As it turned out, I noticed that many other kids struggled with printing or following simple directions when they were tired. If I had them try again after a Power-Up, it was easy!

Since beating Can’t-Do is key to learning, as a teacher, I absolutely LOVE watching kids learn new things, overcome obstacles and hearing them say, “I did it!”


The first thing I always do when talking about beating Can’t-Do is read The Little Engine that Could. This story is something they all relate to. Beyond reading it, we talk about how saying, “I think I can,” applies to things they try to do that may seem hard. Then, when I hear someone say, “I can’t do this,” I remind them of the little engine and suggest they say, “I think I can.” Before I know it, I hear kids quietly saying to themselves as they struggle to get their shoes on, “I think I can, I think I can.”

A CrabbieMaster friend kneeling to tie his shoe.

My goal here is to share with you some of what I know to be true from my years of helping kids beat Can’t-Do. There are some basic principles I hold to. Some of them are interrelated, as you will see. Each child is a little different, so I adapt how I approach each situation in real time.

Kay standing afraid by side of pool with Can't-Do pointing at her.

Kay sitting on grass with her knee scratched up after falling off the bike laying beside her.

Having a positive mindset is important for the adult.

Beating Can’t-Do requires the child to have a positive mindset. The first step toward this is having their adult believe the child ‘can do it!’

It is vital to recognize that Can’t-Do is a secondary Crabbie.

This is probably the most important factor. If kids are struggling with one or more of the primary Crabbies, beating Can’t-Do is so much more difficult. As a reminder, the primary Crabbies are:

Image of Too-Tired   Image of Hungry   Image of Junk-Food   Image of Achy

If you know that one of the Primary Crabbies is in play, address this with your child.

If you know going in that your child is hungry, it is advisable to get them a little something to eat before tackling any task.

If they are tired and it is possible to wait on the task and give them a little Power-Up, that is your best option. (20 minutes of lying down with closed eyes often does the trick.)

If they are tired or are not feeling well and they struggle with doing something, it is important to point out that the reason it is so hard is because they are tired or not feeling well. Assure them that it will be easier the next time they try because Too-Tired or Achy will not be around.

If a child gets frustrated and has a meltdown, try not to feed into the emotion by either getting annoyed, or by feeling sorry for them and giving in by not expecting them to try.

Honestly, I don’t see much of this because when I do, I put a quick stop by saying, kindly and confidently, “I know this is hard for you. You are crying/having a meltdown because you think it is too hard. Sif you can stop crying and I can help you.” For me, because I don’t have a history doing anything else, that usually works. If you have done it differently in the past, you may have to wait it out, or walk away. The point is, you want them to settle down so you can help them have some success. For example, some kids ‘think’ they cannot put their own shirts on. Once they listen to me and I show them what they need to do, they do it. Sometimes I break it down for them by putting their head in and then they put their own arms in. Then the next time, when they ask for help, I say, “Remember how I put your head in the big hole for you. You can do it yourself this time.” And They Do It. If it becomes apparent that they are not going to quit crying about it, you may have to give in this time. Then, later when they are calm, go get the shirt and say, “I want to try something. Let me show you how to put your own shirt on.”

Set your child up for success so that you have a culture that values them doing what they can do for themselves and for the group.

If I have a child who struggles with doing things for themselves, I give them simple tasks to do and then I make a huge deal of how great it was. In my environment, a key go to task for this is asking them to line the kids shoes up under the hooks so that they are out of the way when we walk in the entry way.

A CrabbieMaster friend going across the monkey bars.

Make sure the child feels successful before they quit the task.

We touched on this above. If you have experience with your child that tells you there will be a struggle, go into the ‘session’ expecting less and celebrate a small step. Then, over time, they will be able to handle a little more. Your goal is to get to the point that they do not get frustrated because they trust that you will not ask them to do something that they cannot do.

The results we get when we beat Can’t-Do pretty much defines what it means to be a CrabbieMaster:

  • Beating Can’t-Do builds problem-solving skills.
  • Beating Can’t-Do builds perseverance.
  • Beating Can’t-Do builds confidence.
  • Beating Can’t-Do builds teamwork.

Kay jumps high up and into the pool right in front of Can't-Do!

There is nothing quite as exciting to a child, and to a parent or teacher,

as the feeling we have when we work together and beat the Can’t-Do Crabbie.

Here’s to a great day!

Becky  :)