Ok, I'm really confused here...

United States
July 18, 2008 5:58pm CST
Somehow my 5 year old son managed to pull down the living room curtains. I saw they had fallen, and asked who did it, and he admitted it was him. So I began to ask why it happened, and I couldn't get a straight answer. He kept mumbling and fidgetting with his clothes, and repeating the word "because.... because..." Then eventually he gives me some totally off the wall explanation "because I was lazy". Well that doesn't tell me a thing! So I ask again, and I'm trying to help him out. I asked if he did it on purpose and he says yes. So even more confused I explained what it meant to do something on purpose, and he still says yes, he meant to do it. I continue to ask why and continue to not get an answer. At one point he said he did it because he didn't want to get in trouble. Well this makes no sense at all!! The more I try to figure out what happened, the more frustrated I become. I even called my husband and made him talk to my son... the only thing my son said on the phone was "Because I.... because I...." never gave him an answer. Well I believe there is a very good chance he did this on accident, but why would he say he meant to do it? Do you have problems communicating with your child like this? Any suggestions for what I can do?
3 responses
@mmiller26 (1932)
• Canada
19 Jul 08
A five year old has a limited vocabulary, and chances are he's not even totally understanding what you're asking him. If you ask him why, he's got to search his brain for a way to explain it to you, but not having the vocabulary, he can't put voice to thought. When you ask if he did it on purpose, he doesn't understand what that means. So he says yes, hoping that's the answer that you wanted to hear. He's telling the truth in that he doesn't want to get into trouble. He just doesn't have the sophistication to give you a reasonable answer, which is why he answered with "because I was lazy." It's possible that he thought the curtains were pretty and wanted to get a closer look, so he grabbed them. Or maybe he was playing near them and got tangled and it came down. Maybe he decided that you weren't paying enough attention to him and he thought he would do something that would get your attention, not realizing that the attention he'd be receiving would be negative. Who knows? He pulled it down. That's a fact. How you deal with it will be what matters. If it were my son, I'd get down on his level and explain to him that mommy's curtains are important to me, and that when he pulls them down it makes me feel upset. I don't like my things to get broken, and I'd ask him how he felt if I broke his favorite toy. He wouldn't like it, right? I'd tell him that I'm not mad at him, accidents happen, but that he needs to be more careful with my things. And then I'd give him a hug and send him on his way and see what happens over the next few hours. If it happens again, then it's a problem that needs to be addressed. If he doesn't act out in other ways or try to break anything else, chances are it was an accident and won't be repeated now that he knows he should be careful.
• United States
19 Jul 08
You don't know my 5 year olds. Talking to them you'd think they're 10 year olds. They do have a very wide vocabulary. Actually they both tested in the 3rd grade level for vocabulary. Not to mention, I did explain what "on purpose" meant, and asked the same question many different ways in hopes of making him understand it better. I even made him reanact the situation to make sure he did do it on purpose.
@mmiller26 (1932)
• Canada
19 Jul 08
I do understand, because my 6 year old is the same way. But when he was a bit younger he still went through a phase where he'd give odd answers for questions about why he did something wrong. So he did it on purpose and even demonstrated what he did for you so you could see that it was on purpose. I still feel my advice is valid. He still needs to understand why it was wrong and how you feel about it, and to not do it again.
• United States
19 Jul 08
Yep, that's true. Unfortunatly at this point I'm far too stressed over my attempts to get an answer. The problem is, I go through this same situation with my 11 year old. I ask why he did something, and it's the same thing, answers that make no sense at all. I know they're smarter than that, and they know they're already in trouble, so what's the use of trying to act like they have no clue what's going on? It's unbearably frustrating. Normally I won't even really ask why. If I walked in and saw him pulling on the curtains I wouldn't have bothered asking why, because that would have made no difference. The only reason I went through the whole ordeal was to try to figure out if it was an accident or not.
@gemini_rose (16194)
19 Jul 08
I get this with mine, mine will admit to something they did not do, they will admit to doing something on purpose. I do not know why they do it though, when mine do things like this and I am not sure what has really happened or what the true story really is then I try and tell them that they will not be in trouble or punished as long as they tell me the truth. When they do then tell me the truth of what happened I just sit them down and talk to them about it and tell them that no matter what happens and what they do as long as they are honest with me then they will not be in too much trouble unless it is something really really naughty.
@GreenMoo (11842)
19 Jul 08
It sounds like your son has shocked himself so much with his own actions that he's unable to get the explanation from his brain to his lips. Maybe he'll be a little more coherant tomorrow!