My gut reaction is nearly always the same as yours here.
I hear a noise, I walk into a room, and I’m suddenly in the middle of an issue. I start in:
“Why are you crying? What’s wrong? What happened?”
This immediately takes an adversarial tone when I do not get a prompt answer.
Acceptance and love are what is needed.
So easy to understand this intuitively…
So hard to remember this in the moment.
Plain and simple: Our kids share their feelings more easily when they feel safe.
Some children can tell you why they’re frightened, angry, or unhappy. For many, however, the question “Why?” only adds to their problem. In addition to their original distress, they must now analyze the cause and come up with a reasonable explanation. Very often children don’t know why they feel as they do. At other times they’re reluctant to tell because they fear that in the adult’s eyes their reason won’t seem good enough. (“ For that you’re crying?”) It’s much more helpful for an unhappy youngster to hear, “I see something is making you sad,” rather than to be interrogated with “What happened?” or “Why do you feel that way?” It’s easier to talk to a grown-up who accepts what you’re feeling rather than one who presses you for explanations.
-Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Amazon)