So, why do kids say why?!
“Please don’t jump on the bed”
“Because you might fall off and hurt yourself”
“Don’t pull the cat’s tail”
“She doesn’t like you doing it and she might scratch you”
Why, why, why?
As the mother of a toddler or preschooler, this will be a phrase that you will hear more times than you want to. You will hear it when you first wake up, through the morning and afternoon and even right up until bedtime. “Why do I have to go to bed now, I want to play!”
Some crazy scientists sat and counted the number of questions that a child would ask in a day. That number varied between 140 and 390 depending on the age and gender of the child. So if you currently have a 4 year old girl like me, you will be in the thick of the 390 questions a day period. To put it into context that means that they ask one question every 2 minutes.
Testing Knowledge and Patience
During this time you will realise how much you know about strange topics and how little you know about common topics.
“Why is that person talking funny?” – Queue discussion on different languages/cultures/countries of the world
“Why is the sky blue Mummy?” – Eeeek, why is the sky blue? Something to do with the way light scatters I think?
Then there are the embarrassing ones that always come out at the top of their lungs…
“Why does that man have a big tummy?” – Oh ground, swallow me up now please!
Having a little someone ask you a Why question so many times a day will start to take it’s toll. You will not be the first, or the last parent to use the ‘Because I said so” response. Sometimes when you have just tackled a line up of 12 Why questions in a row, or answered the exact same questions as yesterday and the day before; your patience will start to wear very thin. It is important to remember that our children are not trying to irritate us with their constant questions, they really are trying to learn.
Why do kids say Why?
Children are naturally inquisitive and they have a thirst for knowledge. They want to understand how the world around them works and they look to their parents as their first teachers for these answers. This is why they ask Why about the most mundane things, or things that would seem obvious to us as adults.
Every boring task they see for the first time has the potential to be new and exciting so they want to know all about it. Hanging out the washing, folding the washing, moving the couch out to clean behind it, changing sheets on the bed; all boring for us, but potentially full of wonder for our little ones.
Our children are eager to interact with us. They are not good at being quiet or sitting still for long periods of time. Children want to be involved in everything we do. This includes going to the toilet, showering and getting dressed. That is why it is important to really engage with them when they go on their Why rampages, as hard as it can be sometimes.
Turning it back on them
Because our children are asking Why to learn from us, it can be an excellent opportunity to put the ball back in their court and ask them to answer their own question.
“Why can’t I have ice cream for dinner?”
You can ask them ‘Why do you think you shouldn’t have ice cream for dinner?”. Often they will know the answer, or be able to process it through their little brains and come up with a logical response. Whether they asked the question to try their luck, to test the boundaries, or to hear the sound of their own voice, they are simply trying to engage you in conversation. Turning the Why back on them will encourage dialogue between the two of you.
Why We Should Turn It Back On Them
When we turn the Why back on our children, we need to make sure that we are ready to hear the answer. You can’t just use it as an excuse to stop the constant string of questions. You have to be interested in their response. If you ask the question with gritted teeth or a snappy tone then our children will not feel they can open up to us with their thoughts.
They make take a while to get a response out as their little brains process the response, but you will be amazed at what comes out. The depth of their knowledge is often surprising; their brains are like little sponges soaking up everything around them. Their take on things is often hilarious as they see the world in such a pure way. Your short term patience will result in long term gain. You will open up the opportunity for many conversations instead of just having questions fired at you!
We would love to hear the funniest question that your child has ever asked you. Let us know in the comments below or over on our Facebook page!
Gemma is a kiwi Mum of one and is the Editor for The Baby View. She also works with preschool children, loves cooking, loves sunshine and loves chocolate. She has a nasty habit of losing countless hours at a time looking at cute baby pictures on Instagram!