My Child Won't Tell Me Why

My Child Won't Tell Me Why

Have you ever asked your child ‘why’, only to be met with a blank look? This can be very frustrating.  Then we may loudly demand to know what they were thinking or how they could have done that.

One simple solution is not to ask ‘why.’ Children often give no answer, shrug, or say something silly. No one feels good about that. In many cases there is no real answer. And what probably matters most to the adults is that the situation be dealt with or fixed.

So try this. Forego asking if the child spilled the cereal, grabbed a sibling’s toy, or came in past curfew. Instead, state what you see: I see the cereal is spilled. I see there is a disagreement about this toy. I see it is now 11:25. Then ask what needs to happen next or what we need to do now. The focus is on the future, not the past. We are looking for ideas of how to resolve the situation, not fix blame or obtain a confession.

This is an idea that parents and caregivers can keep in mind for times where it makes sense to reduce the tension around fully understanding what led to a problem. There will be times when ‘why’ is important. And there are many times when it is not. For those times, not asking ‘why’ can reduce frustration for both adult and child and shift the focus to constructive problem solving. As parents, we need to decide if ‘why’ really matters in any particular situation.

Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.