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I have a 4 year old boy who answers all questions with "I don't know".


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deckdetail February 2, 2009


He can't seem to remember his friemds names or even what he had for lunch that day. Is this normal behavior for a 4 year old?

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sbozarth23 February 2, 2009


Hi deckdetail,

My son is six years old and he still can't tell me the names of some of the children he plays with regularly. Sometimes, he has to stop and think about it when I ask him what he had for lunch. I wouldn't be too worried about your son's memory about those sort of things, it will improve with age.

As for "I don't know" my son also used to do that a lot if it meant he was trying to worm out of consequences for his actions. Does your four year old say he can't remember if his "remembering" leads to punishments? If that is the case, that may be a signal that the consequences may be to harsh for whatever his actions were. If this is the case, I suggest you look for ways to help him feel more safe being honest with you about his mistakes. You could say something like "What could we do next time, so (the mistake) doesn't happen again?" Help them look for solutions, and involve them in problem solving to help them see that mistakes can be a way to learn how not to do something a certain way next time, and that they are in control of what they are doing.

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drjohnson February 2, 2009


My kids just don't like to be bothered with my questions and just answer "I don't know" or something else uninformative. Is your son otherwise a chatterbox?

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yoselin February 2, 2009


well it douse seem un normal but at his age it seems normal
just try to keep an eye on him
if he keeps answering you like that there might be something hes not wanting to tell you

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michellea February 3, 2009


It could be a number of things - perhaps he is uninterested in the conversation and I don't know is a good conversation stopper. Perhaps he has difficulty formulating his thoughts and putting them into words. Perhaps he has difficulty understanding the questions.

Does his memory seem to be age appropriate? How about his other oral communication skills? Did he meet most of his milestones on time?

I found that the series of books called "Your Four Year Old" by Louise Bates provided great understanding of what to expect at each age. If after reading the book you are still concerned, I would speak with your pediatrician and possibly ask for a speech and language evaluation.

Here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Your-Four-Year-Old-Louise-Bates-Ames/dp/0440506751

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1seremen February 3, 2009


The behavior you "mentioned" is OK! My son used to say, "I do not want to tell you."

Get a list of his classmates and lunch menu. Study the list and know them off hand and use the information as a guide to ask indirect question/ open ended question and remember he is a boy and 4.

I do not know why, my son prefers paying with his toy cars than spending a lot of time talking, but check on me for kiss or a game of chess, which require less talking. He is five and he knows all his classmates name and birthday.

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TeacherParent February 4, 2009


Is it truly every single question asked of him that he answers with 'I don't know" or is it every question asked about school?
What if you ask him - do you want pizza for dinner? Or - do you want pizza or chicken nuggets for dinner? Would he answer "I don't know' to both of those questions?
Some children don't like to talk about school - other children don't like to talk much at all. Children most often can't give their real reason for not wanting to talk so they say "I don't know." If your son is saying "I don't know" to questions about school, that alone wouldn't concern me. But if he is truly saying "I don't know' to literally every question asked of him, that would get my attention and likely yours too.

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metdad February 6, 2009


Hmmm, I had a wife with the same problem. Couldn't remember who she had lunch with, where they met or even what was on the menu. Not normal- it was the sign of a much larger problem.
Ok-JK-but you should have him checked.

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mamachela February 10, 2009


I think is normal because my son of 8 year,is still saying the same answer all time and for all,if I ask what he wants to eat he answer " I dont know".But I think so is normal,because he is very silent and he dont like to speak to much,like me.

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robinbrumfiled February 14, 2009


Someone gave you some good advise . When my child started that I dont know thing I would just ask him if he wanted some candy or something he likes a lot . Like the other person said , its just something three and four yr olds go through.

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mamachela February 15, 2009


For me is something normal so my boy answer all time the same because i know he do not like to speak too much and like others parents say there are some kids don't like you bothered them with questions and the best answer is I don't know.Keep only watching so all is ok with him,talk with the teacher and near people,in others times I was worried because I think so he haven't friends but the teachers says so he act normal and I'm happy with him,sometimes he is resilent to speak with me and sometimes he like speak to much too.



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