Tips for Answering Your Child's "Why" Questions

The “Why” Behind “Why” Questions and Tips for Answering Them

Why is the sky blue? Why can’t the cat talk? Why do I have to go to bed? If you have a toddler or preschooler, chances are that you are confronted with “why” questions throughout your day, in a variety of situations. These types of inquiries are a normal part of your young child’s development as she learns more about her world.

Why do children ask so many “why” questions?

In a word, curiosity. Young children, especially those around preschool age, are tirelessly curious about the worlds around them. They are just starting to make sense of the causes and effects of their actions, the way they relate to the world around them, and the purpose of the objects that surround them. If your young child asks you question after question about why he can’t eat candy for lunch, why he needs to sit in a car seat, or why he needs to have a bath, he’s not challenging you. He just wants to make sense of his everyday life.

Further, at this age, children want to communicate even more with their parents, and they don’t always know how to get a conversation started. They are learning that when they ask questions, they are rewarded with conversation!

How do you answer the difficult questions?

Why can’t I eat ice cream for breakfast? Because ice cream doesn’t give you the energy you need to keep you energetic and in a good mood throughout the morning. Simple question with a simple answer. But when kids begin to ask about death or less, sex, gender, and race, or even some tough questions about difficulties they may be having making friends or concentrating at preschool, your answers may be more difficult to come up with. Try to turn the question around and ask your child what she thinks. This will allow you to gauge how much she understands already, and will help you to meet her where she is. Answer questions honestly, but without too much detail if you think your child cannot handle too much information.

Are “why” questions driving you just a little bit crazy?

When you’re making dinner, answering work emails on your phone, and answering your child’ questions simultaneously, you can begin to feel a little overwhelmed. Remember to breathe deeply and recall that your child is simply curious and is reaching out to you.

Taking the time to answer your child’s questions and engage in meaningful conversation with him will allow him to develop reasoning skills and communication skills that he’ll continue to grow throughout his childhood.

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