Don’t Ask Kids “Why?”

Sharing is caring!

Thought of the Month

Don”t ask children “Why” they did something! Instead find out–“What’s the problem?”

This is a topic that could be covered in depth; however, as Kid Activities “Thoughts of the Month” go, it is a brief tip page…a reminder for us when dealing with challenging issues of children and inappropriate behavior.

When a child behaves inappropriately in some way, often the first words out of our mouth is “Why did you_____?!”

First… Frequently, the child doesn’t know why he/she did it! If you ask you may get an–

  • I don’t know…
  • I wanted to…
  • The dog did it; Tom did it; I knew he would do it first; etc, etc, etc.

Second: When a child gives you a reason, it validates the behavior. He gave you a reason–so this now makes it O.K.

Children start to develop excuse-making habits as soon as parents/caregivers begin asking them the question: “Why did you do that?”

At first it is quite innocent;  however, as children get older they often begin to use excuses and blaming in order to avoid being held accountable for inappropriate behavior. This isn’t something we want kids to take into adulthood. We want them to take ownership and responsibility for actions.

  • Children don’t want to get blamed for something …
  • They don’t want a consequence…
  • They don’t want to face disapproval

Whatever the problem, implement appropriate behavioral management. There are so many things that could make us want to ask “why”. Depending on the behavior we could instead…

  • Talk about the behavior. If the child needs to cool down-have them do so– and then say something such as “I saw what happeded. Now let’s talk about it.”
  • Investigate–see what’s going on; what happened-and what happened before that!
  • Use redirection
  • Remove the child from the area
  • Use natural or logical consequences–Example: Susan tore up someone’s paper, she needs to fix it.
  • Is conflict resolution needed?

Don’t ask “Why?” Let’s get into the habit of saying,
“What’s the problem”?  It will help children learn to identify the thing they actually want to work on or change.

#Third…Asking “why” — may tell the child you don’t have a clue! Humorous but true!

You may also be interested in Why NOT to make kids say they’re sorry!

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment