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Not answering questions


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#1 Jekaho

Posted 20 December 2012 - 08:16 AM

What is a "natural consequence" for your child not answering questions?

Our son (almost 4 yrs old) purposefully doesn't answer us if he is grumpy or doesn't like what we are talking about or is unsure, in amongst other things. He will just grunt or make squeaky/whingy sounds or ignore.

We are trying to get him to understand that not answering someone else's questions (or not even questions, but someone saying hello or goodbye) is rude and makes the other person sad/frustrated/confused. We have tried to relate it to him by reminding him of times when people have not heard him or not understood him.

Any thoughts?

Or is just "one of those things"?

#2 librablonde

Posted 20 December 2012 - 08:25 AM

If he is a "normal" kid with normal cognitive function then he's old enough to understand that he's being deliberately rude. I'd just put him on Time Out and briefly explain how he was being rude and how he made the other person feel. And then I'd make him apologise to the other person.

I'm sure there's other EBer's who'll just say to ignore it or he's too young for Time Out's but that's what I'd do in our family.

#3 Cat People

Posted 20 December 2012 - 08:35 AM

We have this problem too.  I tend to just "lecture" (aka nag!).  

I often say "it's ok to be grumpy/angry/tired but you shouldn't let it impact others.  If you need some time, go to your room for privacy or tell the person you don't feel like talking right now"

I don't think there is any point forcing him to be polite.  Model the behaviour you want (we make a point of making eye contact and give a big cheery Hello! when getting up in the morning, coming home, etc) and keep giving him reminders.

#4 Carmen02

Posted 20 December 2012 - 08:43 AM

QUOTE (Madame Catty @ 20/12/2012, 06:35 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I don't think there is any point forcing him to be polite.  Model the behaviour you want (we make a point of making eye contact and give a big cheery Hello! when getting up in the morning, coming home, etc) and keep giving him reminders.


I agree with that. I would say that it is not nice to talk like that or that its nice to say hello and goodbye just explain behaviour that you want

#5 Tesseract

Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:21 AM

Sounds like he is avoiding a situation he doesn't like because he either doesn't want to do the thing being asked, or doesn't know the answer. I would look at giving him a few "scripts" to use when he is in this situation. Keep reinforcing that responding is important, and give him options, and make it clear that those options are acceptable. Let him know that he can say "I don't know" or "I don't want to right now" and that this is ok.

The "I don't know" thing you're probably going to be happy with. But the "I don't want to right now" response requires you to think about how you respond in kind. If the response is "well you have to" then that's not going to entice anybody to respond. My approach is to always allow negotiation if feasible, or warmly explain reasons why we have to do things if they just have to be done. You could also talk about giving him the script and space to say "I just need a moment to finish what I'm doing".

Just some thoughts.

#6 baddmammajamma

Posted 20 December 2012 - 09:28 AM

Two thoughts:

1) Have you ruled out that his behavior is in fact deliberate? There are a bunch of things (e.g. hearing issues, processing issues) that could make it difficult for a child to answer questions/engage in polite "chit chat" and could make them surly in the process.

2) If you know that there's nothing else going on beyond "rudeness," I think Tesseract's suggestion below is a good one because it focuses on giving him some TOOLS that he can use (and I agree with Madame Catty's advice as well).

We do a lot of social role playing with our daughter. I find that when I do it OTT/infuse some silliness, she is much more receptive.

I would also try to "catch him being good" -- that is, praise him when he does in fact use his words appropriately and/or when he responds to something.

Good luck!

QUOTE (Tesseract @ 20/12/2012, 10:21 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Sounds like he is avoiding a situation he doesn't like because he either doesn't want to do the thing being asked, or doesn't know the answer. I would look at giving him a few "scripts" to use when he is in this situation. Keep reinforcing that responding is important, and give him options, and make it clear that those options are acceptable. Let him know that he can say "I don't know" or "I don't want to right now" and that this is ok.

The "I don't know" thing you're probably going to be happy with. But the "I don't want to right now" response requires you to think about how you respond in kind. If the response is "well you have to" then that's not going to entice anybody to respond. My approach is to always allow negotiation if feasible, or warmly explain reasons why we have to do things if they just have to be done. You could also talk about giving him the script and space to say "I just need a moment to finish what I'm doing".

Just some thoughts.

Edited by baddmammajamma, 20 December 2012 - 02:12 PM.


#7 Jekaho

Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:05 PM

Thanks for your thoughts everyone. No issues with hearing or cognitive. He can be and often is very polite, answering questions, asking his own. But just sometimes, he does not. And he is rude about it.

We will keep persevering, similar style to what has already been mentioned with reminders, thinking about others, praise etc. The scripts thing is useful, thanks.

Glad to know it's not just him. Well, not 'glad' but you know what I mean.

#8 Natttmumm

Posted 20 December 2012 - 02:08 PM

I wouldn't use time out for that. I would just keep reminding him without making a huge deal. If I make a huge deal mine do those things more




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