Does the 'why' behind behavior really matter?

Updated: Nov 17

Last week I talked with several moms who were really worried about what was causing their children's behavior.

"Why doesn't he like school?"

"What could cause her to lie to me?"

"I wish I knew why he hit his sister."

"What is making her skip her homework?"

These moms felt confused and frustrated, and sometimes even defensive ("I've tried everything and nothing works! What am I supposed to do?!?"), but most of all they felt guilty! A mom is supposed to understand her kid, right? We should know why they do the crazy things they do, even better than they know themselves. When we can't understand our child, our protective care-taker brains start thinking things like, "Maybe this is my fault? Maybe there's something I missed or should have known that is causing this problem? If I don't know why it's happening, my response to it might make it worse!"




Well, guess what? That's crap! You can't know the inner workings of another person's mind, even if it is someone you love more than your own life - you're not a superhuman deity! Sure, sometimes we do know (yep, Mommy knows your tantrum is really about fatigue and hunger, not action figures) but there are A LOT of times when we don't know, but we still have to do something.  I don't believe nature would design super-human abilities to be a prerequisite of good parenting, so it must be possible to kick ass at this momming thing, even when we are mystified as to why something is going on.

When we go down the 'why' rabbithole, we become paralyzed every time our child confuses us (so basically, all the time!).  This is how we use investigation and curiosity about kids' motives to avoid parenting them!


Luckily, the story we tell ourselves that we have to understand 'why' before we can parent well, is a lie.  The truth is that a loving, non-punitive approach to discipline is always appropriate even when the 'why' of a situation hasn't yet revealed itself. And, in fact, parenting this way hastens the discovery of what's going on behind the scenes because it removes any motivation for kids to keep things hidden.


The 'why' of someone else's mind is never truly known. But, YOUR 'why' is right there waiting for you when you turn all that curiosity and investigation onto yourself - what is behind YOUR emotions and reactions to their behavior? Why does it matter to you if your kid likes school, tells a lie, hits their sibling or isn't a scholar? What does it mean to you or about you when those things happen? And who do you want to be as a parent? When we parent this way, our child's 'why' can be unknown, because we are showing up knowing OUR 'why' and that's enough. 


If you're ready to reconnect with your 'why', if you're ready to feel crystal clear on HOW to parent no matter what, it's time for us to talk. Book a free Discovery Call and let's take a look at what's really going on in your family, what you want to create, and exactly how to make it happen. 

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© 2018 by Ann Kaplan