When Your Child Asks Why, All the Time
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you’re going through the questioning stage, the one where your child asks a question and no matter what you answer, they ask why! It’s probably driving you a little crazy! The why. Why, why, why? The one word which seems to be on repeat anytime you’re with your pre-schooler. They ask a question, you respond and they ask why? You tell them why and they ask why to the why. You provide a new answer to the new question and they ask why to the why to the why! It seems that it’s never ending. Even when you try to think of a clever answer to end the why’s, they still ask you why! At this stage in parenting, you’re losing your patience and feel as though you’re growing a new grey hair daily.
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The Daily Why
I went through this with my daughter when she was around 3 years old. We tried distraction methods by bringing in new topics of conversation. Sometimes we would try outsmarting her with a question that we thought would end the why’s. We’d even ask of her opinion to the question she had asked to throw something new into the mix. Nothing seemed to work. It was a pretty exhausting time, especially when you try to answer all of these questions, (she was learning after all), soon to realise you just don’t have the answers to most of them!
Eventually you respond something along the lines of I don’t know or something like it just is to which they respond why and you could go on and on about why you didn’t pay enough attention at school but quite frankly, no one has the time to go into that and you don’t want to fill your child’s mind with reasons not concentrate at school.
As time went on I tried to keep my enthusiasm while answering these questions. Eventually I started to understand the reasoning behind it and was able to stop the why.
Why kids ask Why
The key to stopping the why in it’s tracks, is an explanation. A study from the University of Michigan states that’s what it all comes down to. A child asks why because they don’t know how to engage with us at a level that will provide the detailed response they’re after. They may ask us why but what they’re really asking is why, how, who, what, where all at the same time.
Your child might ask, “Why do you have to go to work all the time?” They don’t just want to know that you work to make money. It’s unlikely that they understand the depth of even needing money. A child asks why because they don’t fully understand your response.
They want to know that we work to make money. That we receive money by going to work. That we use our money to pay for our home because it’s not free. That when we go food shopping we have to pay for the food we buy. We buy our clothes with the money we make. That the nice bike they received on their birthday, was paid with money. That when we go to fun places or trips abroad, we use money to pay for them. That there are lots of different things we can do for work, like being a dentist a chef or a teacher.
This type of conversation opens up their imagination. They find out the answer to the question they have asked. They’ve understood the need to work and even the types of jobs that people have giving them something further to think about. You might go on to ask what type of job they would like to have when they’re older or provide examples of the different jobs that family members have.
Remember, they don’t yet understand the world the way we do. Have a conversation about their question rather than just answer the question and you’ll be amazed at where these conversations will lead you.
If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy The Importance of a Child’s Wishes.