the big W

And no, I don’t mean WIN.  But you will win {hopefully} if you stick with me for a minute.  

We are taught in grade school to ask questions- more specifically the 5 W’s.  Do you remember? If not, let me refresh your memory – Who, What, Where, When – and our topic for discussion today WHY!  Ring abell? I hope so, because that is where we are going to focus our attention for the next few minutes. 

Does this question come up in your household or relationships? Because I know it does in mine. And if I am completely honest, I am often the culprit.  

WHY is so important.  It promotes communication,decision making skills, importance, and purpose towards actions.  And most importantly, it builds trust within relationships. 

When you ask your kiddos to do something, ask if they want an explanation, “is it okay if I share with you why I am asking you to do that?” If they answer “NO”, that is a perfectly fine answer and it is still their responsibility to complete your request.  And remember, if they come back at a later time, and change their mind and now  would like to know why – give them an honest explanation – don’t punish them for saying “no” before -praise them for coming back to you and using appropriate communication skills! It is really tough – for kids and adults alike – to come back when they have turned down help – so this is a huge learning moment.  Remind them that you appreciate them coming back and asking in an appropriate manner and then give them your answer.  Sometimes, our requests are not completed in the way we have planned in our heads and [in a perfect world] we may want our kiddos to listen right away.  And sometimes they do AND sometimes, real life happens, and that is not always how it goes down.  This is where empathy comes in -{Disclaimer: cheesy example to follow}  “I know doing the dishes is the WORST and not always fun, I don’t have fun when I do the dishes either, and it is still your chore for tonight.  Is it okay if I share with you why I am asking you to complete the dishes?”/ 

Put yourself in your kiddos shoes.  Think about yourself at work – if your boss asks you to do something for them  and it seems pointless, do you do it? Most likely, yes, because – adulting. Also it is likely there may be some grumbling and annoyance as the task is completed.  Now think about that same task, how much more willing are you to complete the same task if you understood the importance of it – or the WHY behind it? Again, probably likely to complete it – but hopefully, a little less grumbly. 

Why is often answered with, “Because I said so”.  While that is a completely acceptable answer, a more honest answer as to the reasoning behind why you would like your child to complete a task could help to tone down the arguing.  It takes away the power struggle and promotes open communication and honesty within your relationship.  Your kiddos do not have to agree with your reasoning, and you can let them know that “it is okay if you do not agree, AND here is my reasoning behind WHY”.  You are asking them to complete the task, you are giving them a “why” behind your request, and whether or not they agree-it is still their responsibility to complete the task.  Or, equally as important, you are giving them the WHY behind the reason you are asking them not to do something.  “It is okay if you do not agree with me, and I am asking you not to be on your phone right now so we can spend some uninterrupted time together.”  It takes away the guesswork – when you offer a reason WHY, the assumption can no longer be “you’re doing this because you want to make my life miserable” or “because you hate me”.  

You are then promoting more than just communication within your relationship, but modeling and developing critical thinking skills as they grow up.  This promotes them attaching a “why” or reasoning behind their future actions-  the actions they are going to make when you are not there to make the decisions for them.  It also promotes empathy and understanding how their actions affect others.  Some days, your “why” will simply be “Because I’m having a bad day, and I need your help”.   At the end of the day, you are still the parent.  Your request to your child will always trump your reason behind why.  The relationship you build with your child will be a reason to complete your request. But if you are able, why not build trust, one more way,  and model communication and offer a reason WHY.  

And there it is.  The big W.  Offering a “why” behind your requests. This is not a habit many of us have formed yet – and we are going to make mistakes – and that is OKAY.  We cannot change how we have responded in the past, but we can change how we respond in the present and the future.  As always, you’re rocking it – keep up the hard work:) 

*The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).

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