Its so frighteningly common to hear a child as young as 5 or 6 stating they have failed, when really they have only just begun the learning process of growing into an adult. That word, failure, can halt the progress of an individual in its tracks, to a point where they can become unwilling to try anything new.
Its to get you to help them, to step in and make it easy for them.
If you think about it, as a very young child we tie their shoes laces, cut up their food, buy their treats, put them to bed, magic the washing clean and dry, we do everything for them and they luxuriate in a five star hotel with love and protection thrown in as a free-be; quite a nice existence.
Then they get presented with something which lifts them out of this comfortable cocoon of wall-to-wall fun and we ask them to do something that is not generated from their fertile mind. Many respond by looking to the source of their luxury for them to take over and when we don't, they express the difficulty they are experiencing, that is, 'its hard'.
If we have been conditioned well enough by our children we automatically step in and help them. They continue to express difficulty and we do more and more of it, until they have stepped back far enough so as to allow us to do it. I often see this because it is at this point where a large grin comes onto the childs face, very similar to the one you see when they suddenly understand something.
What have we taught them? We have taught them, if they say its hard, we will step in and do it for them.Question: When do you think this falls down and fails to reward them in the way they want?
Answer: Its around the time when the, 'its hard' phrase, takes on a whole new meaning; I don't have the skills to know how to approach something that is hard [outside my current understanding] because until now, my mum or dad has done it for me.
Here are a few strategies to employ, I use them all in different situations and they work well.
The responses above give you an idea of how to use language to push the problem back in their direction but at the same time be helpful to them in giving clues. Then you can use the plan of supporting them in working out the problem as shown in the article,"Whose homework is it anyway, part 2".