Question your authority? Never! :) However we may want to deny it, our kids will always question our authority. The point is that we need to have a plan for what to do when they do. We had a little interaction the other day that went like this:
- My husband: “William, leave the stick here in the woods.”
- William: “Why?” he asks as he holds on to the stick.
- My husband: “As much as I hate to say it: because I said so.”
- William: “But why can’t I bring the stick with me?”
It was pretty clear to my husband and me that William wasn’t genuinely curious about why he should leave sticks in the woods. He was trying to get my husband to change his mind about the stick. Asking why was his way of trying to hold on to that stick without directly defying my husband.
Nonetheless, no matter what was going on in his head, he was disobeying (delayed obedience is disobedience) and he was questioning my husband’s authority to tell him what to let go of the stick.
But it’s easy for parents to get caught up in the “why.” We always want to answer their questions and encourage their curiosity. And we may tell ourselves that they really do want to know the answer to their question.
So how do we handle this? Answer them AFTER they obey. If they truly are curious, they’ll still ask the question after they obey. If they don’t ask the question after they obey, then you know that they are questioning your authority. They are only asking “why” to get you to change your mind.
When my kids do ask “why” before obeying, I will simply say “yes, mommy” with an expectant tone, letting them know that the only acceptable response at that moment is “yes, mommy” and obedience.