Have you ever wondered "Why in tarnation did my child just do that?" Then you had the brilliant idea of asking your child "Why did you do that?" Honestly, have you ever received a satisfactory response?
Scenario- your son for the 200th time has taken a toy away from his little sister. She starts screaming at the perfect frequency that causes your blood to boil. You pull your son aside and ask... "Why did you take that doll from your sister?"
Truthfully, I have asked my son the "Why" interrogation at least 2,193 times. And he has faithfully provided one of three answers: 1)silence, 2) shoulder shrug 3) or should he feel especially talkative, I will get "dunno." And you would think after 2,193 times I would learn to change my question. Nope. I will ask it again tomorrow.
Have you ever thought the problem is with the question? We are asking an open-ended, critical analysis question of a "preoperational" thinker.
Proverbs 20:5 says "the ways of human hearts are like deep waters, and wise is the one who can draw them out." What questions are the right buckets that will draw the deep waters out of our children, allowing us to see into their hearts?
Well, my wife and I have read Ted Tripp's book Shepherding a Child's Heart for the umpteenth time. And he provides 5 questions to ask your children after they have disobeyed, allowing you to uncover what is really going on in their heart. And note: he does not ask "Why?"
The following summary is taken directly from this blog:
What was going on? This question is designed to simply get a sense of what was going on. Don’t worry about biases. It’s impossible to recount something without biases. Your child does it. You do it.
What were you thinking/feeling as it was happening? This question gets after the heart. You need to understand that no matter where you are, no matter what the situation is, your heart is constantly operating…you’re always interpreting, always worshipping, always desiring or wanting something.
What did you do in response? This goes after words and behavior. With this question we’re teaching our children (and ourselves for that matter) that the behavior and words that came out in the situation were not formed by the situation but by how my heart reacted to the situation. This is very important!
What were you seeking to accomplish? This question gets after motives, goals, purposes, etc. What we’ve done is bracketed behavior with the thoughts and motives, interpretations, desires of the heart…Hebrews 4:12-13 – the heart is always thinking and always desiring. Your behavior is always the result of what you’re thinking and what you desire?
What was the result? This question gets after consequences.