Using the "Why" Phase to Promote Conversation With Your Young Child

Using the “Why” Phase to Promote Conversation with Your Young Child

By the time your young child turns three years of age, he may begin asking you “why” in response to nearly everything you tell him. It can be a long phase, and one that is exhausting for many parents. However, these “why” questions often show general interest in topics, and can be a great way to foster stimulating and ongoing conversations that will help you to communicate better with your child.

“Why” is not the question.

Sometimes, you may wonder why your child is asking “why” when the answer seems obvious, or when there may not be a “because” answer at all. But children are often not asking “why”. Sometimes they ask “why” when they simply want you to talk more about a certain topic. So when you tell your child to stop jumping on the furniture, and they ask “why”, they might want to talk a little bit about how fun jumping can be, other places where they might be able jump, or even about that time they jumped at the park with their friends the previous week.

Honesty is the best policy.

Parents often freeze when children ask questions they deem too difficult to answer. Questions about sexuality are often particularly difficult for parents to answer, as are questions about race, political issues, or questions about difficult situations that may be going on at home. You may be tempted to gloss over a true answer with an answer involving the stork, but try to be honest in your answer. The rule of thumb to remember is that you do not need to tell the whole, unfiltered truth, but it is best to avoid a lie.

Encourage enthusiasm when you see it.

Have you noticed that your child is asking questions about a particular topic, on a regular basis? This probably indicates a genuine interest, and you can use your child’s endless “why” questions to lead you to topics that will really stimulate and engage your child. Use these questions as a way of starting more conversations about topics that will interest your little one.

Have you faced any “why” questions that have really stumped you? Tell us about it in the comments section.

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