She always says, "I Don't Know."

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    • #60207

      It’s driving our entire family crazy. My 11-year-old daughter with ADHD-inattentive will always answer, “I don’t know” to any question that requires her to make a choice. Even with simple questions where we’re trying to give her what she wants such as, “Do you want to watch this movie or go for a bike ride?” she’ll always answer “I don’t know.” She is very sweet and sensitive and often willing to give up her own desires for others, but she needs to be able to express her own opinion and preferences. Even asking her why she says, “I don’t know,” just leads to another “I don’t know.” How can we help her get past this?

    • #60213

      I did this a lot as a child. I did it because I wanted to be left alone, or because the question made me uncomfortable in some way, as if I’d be ashamed or have to lie to answer the question.

    • #60215

      I was also that way and I’m in that state right now. Can you get her involved with yourself or others in some sort of endeavor? Take her out walking or drive somewhere that could provide stimulation? I get a feeling like there’s nothing going on here that is very important, maybe I’ll fall into a kind of malaise. It’s like going to sleep.
      I just thought of something. Can you get her to help in making some type of food dish? Bake something, mix something together?

      • This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by MrNeutron.
      • #60229

        She and I have Tae Kwon Do class together every week. We both earned black belts this summer after three years. It’s true that it’s hard to get her involved in anything. This is the one activity that has stuck, so we keep going. Cooking is a good idea though. I can try that too. Thanks.

    • #60227

      What happens if there is not a choice involved, maybe just a YES or NO answer required – ” Do you want to go for a bike ride?”

      And, are the questions she is being asked just for herself, or is she going to make a choice that will affect the whole family? (I.e. Will EVERYONE be going to the movies, or for a bike ride?)
      To this day, as an adult, my parents Ask where I want to eat, and that’s where we’ll go. I’m not giving my opinion and then we have a discussion, weighing everyone’s options. OH NO, I am the one responsible for where all of us will eat. (Or what movie we see, etc.)

      Without a choice, if she still says “I don’t know” to a Yes or No question, my suggestion (as a teacher of younger children) would be to have a conversation with her away from any questioning. Let her know you fully value her opinion, but since she hasn’t wanted to give one, you want to try something new, which will be just to tell her what to do. If she isn’t comfortable with that, then she can start answering your questions with a decision, rather than “I don’t know”

    • #60228

      No, we don’t put the responsibility on her to make decisions for the whole family, but she has two brothers who always dominate and we don’t want her to feel like she always has to do what they want to do. We want her to know that her opinion is just as valid as theirs and even more so when it’s just regarding what she wants to do without them! We’ve tried asking open-ended and yes-or-no questions, but get the same “I don’t know” response, followed by a big sigh. It’s like making any sort of decision is just too stressful for her. It may indeed be stressful for her, so maybe we’ll have to give your suggestion a try until she matures a little more. That’s hard because I don’t like being responsible for all of someone else’s choices either! But we do what we have to do. 🙂 Thank you.

    • #60240
      Penny Williams

      What I’ve learned is this is a symptom of difficulty with identifying and communicating feelings and emotions. Many with ADHD struggle with a deficit in these skills. Those with anxiety can struggle with decision-making as well, through a fear of making the wrong choice, or upsetting others with their choice.

      What Anxiety Disorders Look Like in Children

      I love the Zones of Regulation program for teaching kids to identify emotions and how to self-regulate.

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Mentor on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

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