“I don’t care”

During a parenting presentation last week, one parent raised the question “What can I do when my child brings home a test where he did poorly and when I ask him about it he says ‘I don’t care.’?”

The principal at this school gave some wise advice. She said that whenever she hears a student say “I don’t care”, she tries to find the kernel of truth behind those words. She’ll ask the child “Can you tell me more about that?” The real truth may be:
  • I don’t know how to do this.
  • I need help but I don’t know how to ask for it.
  • I’m embarrassed because I don’t understand this.
  • I think this is too hard for me.
Once she understands what the child is really communicating, she is in a better position to help. Saying “I don’t care” is often a way for children to distance themselves from the problem and to get adults to leave them alone. Our empathy and careful listening can help uncover what is really going on.

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