Don’t tell me to try harder!

When I was a kid, my report cards often had comments like “Peter would do better if he applied himself”.  This always made me want to apply my fist to the teacher’s face!  (I never actually hit a teacher, I made their lives miserable other ways).  It’s the same message as “try harder”.


You have no way of knowing how hard anyone is trying.  You can certainly see the appearance of trying, but trying is an internal thing.  And trying is harder when you are tired, frustrated, angry, etc.  And you can’t really tell when someone else is those things, either because, as with trying, appearances can be deceiving.

Rather, assume that everyone (including you and your child!) are trying as hard as they can.  It’s probably true and it makes everything better to assume it’s true.