How can I get my son to believe me more? No matter what I say, he doesn't believe me. He's only in second grade and he tells me no, mom, that's not right. He says this even when I am right! It really bothers me.
From: MT, Everett, MA
I don't blame you for being upset. I hope it helps you to know that every parent, myself included, has had times when we don't know the answer to a child's question, or we know the answer but don't know how to say it in a way that's appropriate to the child's understanding. In those moments, we have a tendency to make something up. It's partlyl human nature -- no one wants to look stupid to our child -- and partly frustration; sometimes we're tired or busy or whatever and we just want to make him stop asking. Both strategies have a way of catching up with us, though.
Here's an alternative strategy. Sometime when you're just hanging out together, tell him, "I know you don't always think I know the answers to things. I just wanted to tell you that sometimes, in the past, when I wasn't sure about an answer, I would just guess. That was bad. From now on, I promise not to guess. If I don't know something, I'll find out the answer and tell you." Then, when the occasion arises and you don't know the answer, tell him: "You ask such good questions! I'm not sure what the answer is. I'm going to try and find out and I'll get back to you."
Do what you need to do to get an answer -- ask someone who might know, check on the Internet, ask a librarian or the teacher or a clergy person -- and then resume the conversation. "Remember a few days ago when you asked me about X and I didn't know. Well, I did some research. The answer is......"
There's a book that I often consulted when my son was a little bit older than yours, "The Handy Answer Book for Kids (and Parents)" by Judy Calens and Nancy Pear. Sample questions: "Why are polar bears white?" "Why do I have to say I'm sorry?"
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