All I’m asking is for you to try

Lately there’s been much talk about job uncertainty in the future economy. Experts are predicting that with the age of digitisations, robots and AI will soon take over our jobs and it’s a scary prospect for us and our children. From time to time, this grim reminder pops up on the news and the smart nation ad where it states that 5 millions jobs will disappear in the year 2020. *Gulp*

I’ll be lying if I said that I not in the least bit worried about the inevitable as the world changes.

But I know that I’m also not helpless about it as there are opportunities for me to unlearn and relearn to keep myself relevant in the ever changing workplace that calls for people who are adaptable, nimble and are lifelong learners. In short, a person who never says die but I’m willing to try.

Try something different, try something new and try something you’ve never done before.

And as a parent, this is an important mindset that I want my daughter to be equipped with.

Growth Mindset reminders

At the start of the year, I pinned up motivational quotes and visual reminders of what it means to have a growth mindset for Sophie on her notice board. I’m big on inspirational quotes and I believe that positive reinforcement helps to shape our thinking and behaviour. At 8 years old, I want her to learn to take personal responsibility of her own learning and to have a positive attitude towards learning.

Since she was so hot about the song, Try Everything, by Shakira from the movie Zootopia, I printed the lyrics and she made it her theme song for the year. Sounds promising doesn’t it?

After all, a self motivated child is every parent’s answered prayer because God knows the frustrations that comes with trying to motivate a child with pep talks, rewards and even punishment when all else fails.

But less than 2 months in the year, Sophie threw in the towel and got tired of trying. It’s fine by me if she can’t do something that she’s not learnt yet. But it’s her nonchalant attitude when she simply goes, “I don’t know”, without even trying and expecting to be fed the answers that got me so riled up. So much for teaching her about having a growth mindset and where’s that try everything attitude that she promised.

I ranted about it on Facebook and said that all I’m asking for her is to try. Turned out I was not alone as many parents had similar struggles with their kids.

So as a parent, what are we to do?

The first thing is not to throw our hands up in the air and give up on our kids. It can be tempting but it’s not the best way to model the kind of behavior we are trying to correct here. And remember to do it with encouragement and love.

It can be tricky to find the balance between stretching our kids abilities and pushing them and only you know the kind of prompting that your kids respond best to.


Life doesn’t require that we be the best.  Only that we try our best.


I had a few pep talks with Sophie about it during our heart to heart talk before bedtime and I assured her that there’s no shame in getting the wrong answers. After all, what matter most is that she gave it her best shot.

When we walk through her mistakes, I would point out the efforts that she’s taken to help her see that progress can be recognized in different ways. We also talked about having a right attitude toward learning, one that has a spirit of excellence which pleases God and we even commit it to God in prayer.

The improvement in her attitude has been very encouraging and I thank God for answered prayers. And I can that when she feels secure to try even if it means getting the first attempt wrong , she’s now one step to discovering the right answer. Between grades and character, we all know which matters more and as parents how we mould them in their youth will shape who they are in future. Let’s raise kids who are determined and not beaten easily even if they fail.

Lunch box notes from mummy

What are some of your frustrations when your kids are unmotivated to try and how do you encourage them? I would love to hear from you too


If you enjoyed this post, you may like what I wrote about Raising Young Thinkers and What my child will remember about me.



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Comments: 10

  1. Angie.S March 6, 2017 at 11:52 am Reply

    What a timely and powerful post Susan. Thanks for reminding us how to use simpler phrases and encouragement notes to motivate our kids to adopt a growth and positive mindset! I want to put some of these into practice too.

    • Susan March 6, 2017 at 8:14 pm Reply

      I’ve emailed the printable posters to you and hope they encourage D to have a positive mindset too.

  2. Christy @ March 6, 2017 at 12:38 pm Reply

    I love your encouraging lunch notes. So much effort to get your girl to change her mindset and I am sure it will pay off in the long run! We do heart to heart talks when all else fails and I think so far, such talks work well for us, especially in girls as they are more attuned to mature conversation. Jia you!

    • Susan March 6, 2017 at 8:17 pm Reply

      Yes, it’s slowly but surely working. Thank God that she’s sensible and more receptive to try after a few pep talks. I realised that part of the problem was because she didn’t want to get the answers wrong, that’s why she didn’t want to attempt new challenges. Glad I could address them and set her mind at ease that what matters is that we try our best.

  3. Karen March 6, 2017 at 9:59 pm Reply

    Your post give me ideas that i should paste it to remind my kids. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Alicia Tan March 13, 2017 at 11:20 am Reply

    I think that it is a stage many children go through; something which I have personally experienced and also heard from friends who have experienced it (and some, are still trying to manage that).

    I love the way you are pointing out her effort when you look through the mistakes with Sophie; I need to be more intentional in that as I am more of a task oriented person by nature – just get the task over and done with and we address the rest later. But I sometimes forget that my kid is not even 9 yet! :/

  5. Angie Yeow March 23, 2017 at 7:46 pm Reply

    It is always encouraging to see how you motivate your girl and I’m all for motivational stick on visuals! It takes a lot of conscientious effort to do the lunchbox stick ons! I did it on and off in the past. Perhaps I should re intro this sticky notes for my boys! I also love the growth mindset attitude. Thanks for sharing!

  6. […] All I’m asking is for you to try […]

  7. […] don’t expect overnight changes. I’m a believe that we need to equip our kids with a Growth Mindset and let them know that they can and they will improve with time and we should also encourage them […]

  8. […] All I’m asking is for you to try […]

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