Creative Child

The Wrong Question Parents Keep Asking

by Rebecca Eanes


It turns out that time-outs were the wrong answer because “what do I do when” was the wrong question.

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Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, feeling like you are in a constant power struggle with your child and nothing is working the way you thought it would. Maybe your relationship is strained. Maybe you’ve been given the wrong answer because you, too, have been asking the wrong question. Here’s a better question.


WHY is my child hitting?

WHY is my child not listening?

WHY is he defiant?

WHY won’t he sleep at night?

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Why is this significant? Because WHY puts your focus on the person. What do I do when puts your focus on the problem. It completely shifts how you see your child and, therefore, how you react.

When I started asking why questions, you can imagine how the answers that came were completely different. The answer to “why is he being defiant?” was “because he feels disconnected.” The answer to “why does he feel disconnected?” was “because he has a new baby brother and it’s a big adjustment for him.” So, he didn’t need a time-out, he needed to reconnect with me. He needed to feel secure and attached. He needed me to focus more on special time with him, and when I did, his defiant behavior disappeared.

It’s not always easy to get at the why, but when we approach issues with curiosity and ask the right questions, the right answers will eventually come, and most often the right answer is connection.

Rebecca Eanes, is the founder of and creator of Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. She is the bestselling author of 3 books. Her newest book,Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, is more than a parenting book, it's a guide to human connection. She has also written The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parentingand co-authored the book, Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide to Putting Positive Parenting Principles in Action in Early ChildhoodShe is the grateful mother to 2 boys.


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