Posts Tagged Why Questions

The Problem with “Why” Questions

One of the most common questions people ask others is “why?”

“Why did you do that?”

“Why did you say that?”

“Why is this happening?”

Interestingly, the least effective question to ask in almost any situation is a “why” question.

A few reasons that I do not ask “why” questions to a person, especially during times of conflict or irresponsible behavior are:

  1. The person may not know the motivation.
  2. He or she may not be able to articulate the motivation.
  3. The person may not want to tell you the real reason.
  4. The person may give an excuse, rather than take responsibility.
  5. There is no beneficial effect in asking, as it only satisfies curiosity.
  6. It takes the focus away from changing
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With Discipline, Your Questions Matter

One of the key concepts of the Discipline Without Stress book and approach is to ask reflective questions. Always remember, though, that “why” questions are not reflective and often will not curb the discipline problem you are trying to correct.

So, what’s wrong with “why” questions, especially when trying to discipline a youngster? “Why” questions have an accusatory overtone. They also block communications because such questions prompt negative feelings.

Let’s prove the point. Say the following question out loud so you can hear yourself:

“Why are you doing that?”

Notice that when you asked this question, your voice pitch rose higher and your volume increased. Also, notice the effect on your emotions when you asked this “Why?” question.

Now, say … >>>


Asking “Why” Questions Does Not Improve Behavior

Many teachers and parents fall into the trap of asking children “why” they did something. “Why did you hit your brother?” “Why did you throw your book on the floor?” “Why are you not listening to the instructions?” They mistakenly think that it is necessary to understand the “why” of a behavioral problem in order to fix it.

By focusing on the “why,” they are treating social-behavioral skills the same way as academic skills. However, academic skills deal with the cognitive domain, whereas behavior has to do with the affective domain—those factors that pertain to feelings and emotions. This is why knowing “why a building collapsed” is important to fixing the problem, but knowing “why you hit your brother” is … >>>


Discipline Without Stress Newsletter – December 2015

Volume 15 Number 12 December 2015
Newsletter #173 Archived


  1. Welcome
  2. Promoting Responsibility
  3. Increasing Effectiveness
  4. Improving Relationships
  5. Promoting Learning
  6. Parenting
  7. Discipline without Stress (DWS)
  8. Reviews and Testimonials 



My dad would use the strap, but my mother would have a way of loving me into doing the right thing.
—Cavett Robert, Founder, National Speakers Association


In this season of giving and until the end of this month, discounts are available for my two “Without Stress” booksIf you are looking for a gift for a parent of a child or a gift for someone in the teaching profession, consider one of the books described below. NOTE: Be sure to check “FREE … >>>


Reflection and Self-Evaluation

Consider: When you tell, who does the thinking? 
When you ask, who does the thinking?

Reflection is a powerful teaching and learning strategy that is too often overlooked. The key to reflection is the skill of asking self-evaluative questions. It is the most effective, yet neglected, strategy both in learning and in dealing with people. Using this skill also reinforces the other two practices of positivity and choice.


Reflection is necessary for long-term memory reinforcement. Its absence in the learning process can be likened to chewing—but not swallowing. The food is tasted, but unless it is digested, there is no nutritional value. Before elementary students leave a subject or middle and high school students leave a classroom, … >>>