“Why did you hit your brother?” “Well, Mom, I’m feeling jealous that you spend so much time with him since he was born. I feel neglected and I resent you so I take out my hurt feelings on him. I’d be happier if you didn’t have him. Aren’t I enough?”
Have you ever received a well thought out answer like this to your interrogating “why” question? Not likely. It’s pretty ridiculous when you think of how many questions we ask our kids that we know they can’t answer. The effect of these often accusatory questions is that the child feels shamed, humiliated, and disapproved of. Their hurt feelings do not lead to open dialogue and problem solving together with you. Here are other popular ineffective questions.
Why did you do that?
Why didn’t you ……….?
How many times do I have to tell you?
When will you think before you act?
How come you are so mean, rude, selfish, etc…….?
Kids typically respond in one of three ways depending on the depth of their hurt, their age, and their temperament with either “I don’t know”, hurtful back-talk, or humiliated silence with revenge or rebellion at a later time. Asking self-reflective questions of a child without an opportunity to express feelings and thoughts doesn’t work. They have not had any time to analyze the problem.
You will be amazed how even a five year-old can think about their thoughts and feelings and make conclusions in the presence of an accepting and supportive listener. You can learn how to be a listener that your kids come to for support and help. They will feel so loved and accepted by you, that their hearts will open up more to your requests for support and cooperation in return.
Do you often use interrogating questions when you are frustrated with your kids? What are the results?
©2014 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She guides parents to create a caring, cooperative, and courageous family. Cynthia presents her expertise through writing, speaking, and private parenting coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association, Parents Place Parenting Educator, and is a columnist for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 679.8138.