How many times a day do we hear the words "But why?" from our eager young children? If you had a nickle for every one, you'd be rich, right? When my children were small they would often ask, "Why?" and "Why not?" Unfortunately I did not always take the time to give them a reason as to why I didn't want them to do something. In fact, I have to confess to defaulting in frustration at times to, "Because I am a mean Mom. Now don't ask me again!" What I didn't realize was that if I had explained at the time, not only would they have an immediate answer but the reason could have positive long-term effects. Why? (There is that question again!)
Explanations are teachable moments. They give you the opportunity, as a parent, to highlight danger and to encourage your kids to think about consequences and therefore learn to make wise decisions both now AND when you are not there to ask.
a) Example: Mother to a 4 year-old. "No, you may not ride your bicycle down the driveway and here is why. You may not be able to stop in time, fly out into the street and a car might hit you."
b) Example: Father to a 15 year-old son or daughter. "I am not letting you go out to Tony's party with your friends because we do not know the family well enough to know there will be adult supervision. There may be alcohol or drugs there, and though we have told you the dangers of these substances, we cannot be sure you will be safe around others who use them."
If you do not have time to give an explanation as to 'Why?' immediately, tell your child that when you have finished the task at hand, you will tell them why.
By Sally Burgess and Kristee Mays