It is nearly impossible to get any sort of answer out of Oliver, and it always has been. He really just doesn’t like to stick himself out there, or answer something that might be incorrect. If you ask him any sort of question at all, he reflexively answers “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember”. I think maybe this began as a way to buy himself time to find an answer, but he’s answered this way so often for so long, that he now responds before he actually thinks about the answer to the question. If you asked him his name he would immediately answer, “I don’t remember.”
The only way to get him to answer is to respond, “I know, but what is your guess?” Often, when you ask him to guess, he does have the correct answer when he thinks about it for a second.
I don’t really know what to do about this. It can be extremely frustrating when, question after question, he refuses to make any sort of attempt at an answer. I know that it’s not because he doesn’t know the answer.
In fact, he does not want to do anything to stick out in any way. I noticed that in ballet he never answers any questions when the teacher asks, despite the fact that I know that he knows the answer, and he never volunteers to demonstrate or even to go first in line. I asked him why this was and he just got embarrassed and said, “I just want to do what everyone else is doing.”
It’s a part of his personality, but I do think this has something to do with his sister. He just looks up to her so much, but I notice that whenever he’s in an uncertain situation, he always looks at her to see what she’s doing. She’s his safety blanket, and he gets nervous when she’s not around to set the example. That’s kind of sweet in a way, but my hope is that he blossoms a little bit when he’s in situations without her, such as at school.
I do wish he would just slow down a little bit and think about his answer, instead of reflexively answering “I don’t know”. It’s certainly not a lack of intelligence!