Why we should avoid asking teenagers WHY?

Have you noticed the simple ‘WHY’ word often triggers defensive or self-protective type behaviour in teenagers?
Not just within teens, it happens with big teens too (us adults), but of  course, we aren’t going though massive adolescent hormone and brain changes, so in theory we’ve got a better chance at regulating our reactions and responses to WHY.


Do these questions look familiar?
Q- Why are you late?
Q- Why did you do that?
Q- Why would you make that decision?
😢Why why why?
Thinking back, can you recall how your teenager reacts when you ask WHY?

To keep parent- teenagers= connections tight, conversations flowing and emotional reactions in check, try this instead –
👍🏻Did something happen that held you up this afternoon?
👍🏻Was there something going on for you at that time?
👍🏻Can you remember how you came to that decision?
👍🏻Were you feeling pressure when that happened?
👍🏻What was going through your mind when …..?

Try removing or at least lessening the use of ‘why’ type questions. Why can block a conversation from getting started or once it has started, WHY can shut it down in a heartbeat, which defeats the purpose of trying to find out more about a situation or simply help a teenager though a problem or tough time.
In teen coaching sessions and even in conversations with my own teenager, I do my very best to avoid asking ‘WHY.’

Instead, I endeavour to replace WHY with a more safe and curious lead-in question, which are more often than not welcomed with a level-headed and less emotional response. This subtle shift in the way we talk, can help teens and parents communicate far more respectfully and effectively about little things and big things too.

Have fun experimenting~
And if your teen is after more ways to be amazing… check out ROC & Rise, the game-changing book or audiobook (endorsed by Maggie Dent) that’s shaking up the way teens look after their own mental and emotional fitness!


This idea is shared with teens in Claire’s book  ROC and RISE. Endorsed by Maggie Dent and loved by teenagers and their families worldwide.

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