In my training to be a counselor, I learned a “trick of the trade” so to speak when working with children. I learned this from Dr. Garry Landreth (a guru in child centered play therapy) at a conference about two years ago and it has stuck with me. And that gold nugget is this:
NEVER ASK A CHILD THE QUESTION WHY?
The reasoning behind such a statement made perfect sense when he explains it. The explanation is the question “why” requires rational thought. Children have difficulty accessing that part of the brain, especially in regards to their behavior. “Why” requires the child to explain in a rational way the reasoning behind what they did or are doing. And what I have discovered is that the majority of the time, they cannot answer the question. It requires the ability to self-reflect on behavior that is lots of time unexplainable. The answers vary from a blank stare (usually looking anywhere but at me) to shrugging shoulders to a verbal “I dunno know”.
When visiting with a student, this question hardly ever comes up (occasionally it slips out). I have learned it is not a fruitful question to ask children or adults for that matter.
However, with adults the question is rarely asked because we don’t what to infringe upon someone else’s motivation, freedom, etc. But as I have perused through social media and looked at all the comments regarding tragic and horrific events, the question I try to not ask pops to the forefront. And here is what I have concluded:
If I were to sit down with someone who espoused hatred and evil, that question would be wanting to fly off my lips. Why are you doing such horrific acts?, etc. But here’s the deal breaker: it makes people defensive whether it is a child or adult. And to overcome evil in this world, making them defensive isn’t beneficial because it doesn’t allow for dialogue or learning.
Every day I see children whom have experienced evil in very microscopic ways. It doesn’t make the headlines and cause outrage among the mainstream. Yet the only way I know to overcome evil is through loving the children. When evil makes an appearance, it is how I can respond. Through this action, my hope is that the evil that made an grandiose appearance in recent years will subside with intentionally loving the children. Because it is with them that we have the greatest opportunity to shape their lives for good. And that my friends is worth the work it takes to daily love them because in them hope is alive.