Dear Granddaddy, why does my kid always answer me with, “I dunno.”? Mary Jo- Befuddled mother.
Mary Jo, I, too, have countless times been the recipient of “I dunno” during my many years of teaching, coaching, and raising five children of my own. That “I dunno” response is very frustrating, and sometimes can even sting a bit. So trust me when I tell you that you’re not the only adult who is going through this. And also believe me when I tell you that there is nothing wrong with your kid.
Now that I’m an older adult, who is approaching the half-century mark and has experienced what you’re going through thousands of times, Mary Jo, I feel I can give you some advice. My advice to you, and even to my younger self if I could go back in time, is don’t take it personally.
Sometimes our children really don’t know the answer to our questions. I’m not kidding. They really don’t know even when they should know. Now, I hear you, and I understand that they’re supposed to be like little sponges sucking everything up. But sometimes that little sponge gets saturated, and for a while, no other information can seep in.
Also, sometimes our kids just aren’t in the mood. Again, it’s nothing personal. They may be in deep thought about something else and don’t want to be sidetracked by giving us a long answer to our request.
Also, I have personally experienced situations where a child was embarrassed and couldn’t reply with anything but “I dunno” at the moment. When this happens, we need to let some time pass, and then come back later and ask again. Hopefully, the child will then be in a better place and be able to have a meaningful conversation.
So while none of our children’s “dunnos” responses will go away, Mary Jo, we can take at least some of the sting and frustration out of them if we remember that it’s not personal. And we might also get better results if we practice patience and try again later under different circumstances.
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