What does "I don't know" really mean?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by allhaileris, Sep 3, 2008.

  1. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    So whenever we ask "why" we get the "I don't know" answer. Last night I had a decent conversation with Eris about feelings and her behavior, then she went into talk to her dad about whatever it was she did (which I don't even remember right now, too much on my mind) and when husband asked if she knew how it made him feel she said "angry". When he asked her why she said "I don't know". I stopped him before he blew up at it and tried to tell him that seems like a typical answer for a kid in her situation.

    But what does that really mean? How do you deal with it? How do you get the real reason out? Do you just accept the answer and move on? I am really trying hard to help her get the words out of how she's feeling, but I feel that answer is a stalemate and I don't want her to use it forever. How do you get past it?
  2. crazymama30

    crazymama30 Active Member

    If she is 6, she may have problems figuring out her emotions. Maybe try helping her by giving her 2 options at a time, like does it make you happy or sad?

    My difficult child does that quite a bit, especially to psychiatrist who asks hard questions. psychiatrist tells him he won't accept that answer from him, that he is smart enough to figure it out. My difficult child is 10, so big age difference.

    What about getting her an emotion scale (for lack of a better term) that shows faces so she could pick the one she feels like?

    I also know my difficult child does not do well with the why question, it is too open and general. He tends to do better if I ask the same thing in a more specific way.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Was he asking her if she knew why HE felt angry? Or why she did what she did that made him angry?

    Anger is usually from an expectation not met. Most kids don't understand it that specifically.

    At her age, and with her speech delays, she probably truly does not have the tools to express the reasons why she does what she does. And for that matter, most 6 yo's don't.

    I think it IS good, though, to continue working with her on defining and expressing her feelings, and helping her to understand what is expected of her. Sometimes we assume our kids know what we want and our reasons why (it's so obvious to an adult). difficult child's often need more overt lessons.

    Just my 2 cents!
  4. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    At 6 years old, kids really don't have any insight. That doesn't happen until later - 10 or 11. She can see that it made Dad angry, but she probably really doesn't know why.

    Instead of asking her why, it would probably be better to explain to her why it made him angry.

    Dad: How did that make me feel?
    difficult child: Angry.
    Dad: Yes. It made me angry because.....
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Actually, a few of my five six year olds...lol...could have eloquently explained their reasons for anger. It's not age specific. Your c hild has speech and motor delays and I wonder if he's on the autism spectrum. If so, he isn't going to be able to articulate much...it's a communication disorder. If he doesn't, he still has autistic traits and I'm guessing he still can not articulate how he feels. These kids are not able to explain well. They may not even know. Talking to my son, at age six (the one on the Spectrum, only he wasn't diagnosed at that age) was pretty much this:
    Me: Why did you do that?
    L: I don't know.
    M: Well, can you guess?
    L: I don't know.
    M: Do you have ANY idea so I can help you?
    L: No (shaking head, looking sad and frustrated)
    M: Please? Can you try?
    L: (crying) I don't know.
    He is able to express himself and tell me his reasons now, although he still doesn't give long explanatioins. It takes time for them to learn
  6. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    They really don't know, quite often. Or, especially if they have language difficulties, they don't know how to find the words to express it. There can be a big gap between the vague feeling, and the words to express it accurately.

    Also, if there is any chance of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), this can be aggravated by a need to be EXACT in what they DO say.

  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    She may say that because she truly doesn't know. It takes time and work to be able to put feelings into words. Can she draw you a picture of how she felt?

    We used a book of faces to help Wiz learn to put feelings into words. Often there were more than one feeling to identify and that was very confusing to him. There are also posters of feelings (and when she is sick or injured there are pain scales that are faces - VERY helpful to have so you can help when your child may need medicine for pain and you aren't sure).

    Here is a link to a poster that has faces for different feelings: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Feeling-Today-Borgman-Print-Poster/dp/B000MYM5D4/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1220511273&sr=8-7"]Amazon.com: How Are You Feeling Today? by Jim Borgman 18"x24" Art Print Poster: Home & Garden[/ame]

    Here is another one that uses the yellow "smiley faces" with different expressions: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Individual-Feelings-Emotions-Emoticons-Feeling/dp/B0012ISZ5G/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=office-products&qid=1220511701&sr=8-4"]Amazon.com: Mood Meter Magnet / Individual Feelings Chart (Emotions, Moods, Emoticons) How Are You Feeling Today?: Office Products[/ame]

    This is a book by Aliki that explains a number of feelings and might be appealing: [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Feelings-Reading-Rainbow-book-Aliki/dp/068806518X/ref=pd_sim_b_3"]Amazon.com: Feelings (Reading Rainbow book): Aliki: Books[/ame]

    Jamie Lee Curtis also has a book about feelings called "Today I feel Silly" that is both helpful AND enjoyable (she has a number of children's books that are pretty cool).

    This is the mood book we used most often. [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Mood-Swings-Show-Youre-Feeling/dp/0843175605/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1220512239&sr=8-1"]Amazon.com: Mood Swings: Show "Em How You're Feeling!: Jim Borgman: Books[/ame] It can be set up on a table and will show the mood from either side of the book, so you can see it coming and going. I had Wiz (and later thank you) flip it to show how he was feeling. He really liked the way the artist showed the faces and it let us know what was going on.

    Maybe these will help?
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree that 6 is too young and it takes yrs to develop that sense of insight.

    You can give her tools ... maybe suggest "do bright lights make you angry?" or "do you get angry when you think people are bossing you around?"

    I think to a 6-yr-old, it would be like a bully pushing you into a corner, except it's words and they don't know how to deal with their reactions.
  9. allhaileris

    allhaileris Crumbling Family Rock

    This is good feedback from you all. I think some face chart might be nice for her, but I can usually tell her feelings and get that out of her, just not the "why". It sounds like it might be a lost cause for a while.

    The why was "why did you do this", not "why is he angry", but I guess they go together in a way. I'm just trying to get past this communication barrier, but we'll work on it one little chip at a time.
  10. OpenWindow

    OpenWindow Active Member

    My difficult child still says he doesn't know even though he does. But at 6, I'm pretty sure he didn't.

    The face chart is very effective in helping them understand all the different feelings and levels of anger, frustration, etc. I also try to use TV shows or books as a lesson whenever I can to talk to difficult child about why someone got angry or should have gotten angry, and what the person could have done differently to not make the others angry. Sometimes it works best to ask them how they would feel - because they can see their own feelings sometimes but can't see the feelings of others quite so easily.

    It's a long road, but it will help them as they get older to understand their own feeling and other people's feelings better.