Do you mean you give him a chance to explain himself, or you try to explain the situation to him?
My guess is he covers his ears to keep from hearing you talk, or he covers his ears when you are telling him to explain himself in order to block out the instructions.
Chances are (either way) that he is frustrated, intimidated and/or overwhelmed. If he doesn't know what to "say for himself" or feels hopeless/ashamed of the situation, he will want to tune out having to "talk about" it. It's the same if he feels hopeless--if he's certain that you won't be pleased or satisfied no matter what he says. Conflict is stressful.
If my kid were doing that, I probably would verbalize my best guess about the situation. Just reflect back what you imagine the behavior is communicating. (All behavior is communication.) Make it an acknowledgment: "Looks like you don't want to talk about this," or "You don't want to hear this right now."
at 5:01 PM on Oct. 14, 2013