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How To Handle Your Children's 'Whys'

The phase when your kid has a question for EVERYTHING and how we work through it.

Our daughters are at the age where they are very verbal and curious! This can be quite the combination. They are always asking “Why?” and sometimes we have patience for it, but sometime we just don’t.

We know it’s all a part of them learning about the world around them, but the constant questions can be a bit frustrating for us!

Bethany:

Claire didn’t really start asking questions until she was about 3. She suddenly became VERY curious at that age. Now that she’s 4, she is even more curious. She wants to know what, why, and how for everything!

When she sees me doing something, she will ask “What are you doing Mommy?” So, I answer her only for her to ask “Why you doing that Mommy?” Then she will either say “Ok Mommy” if she is satisfied with my answer, or she will keep asking more questions. I try to always answer her in a way that she can understand, but it can get frustrating when I’m in the middle of something and she keeps asking a bunch of questions. Sometimes I just get tired of answering the constant stream of questions. But I remind myself that she’s just curious and trying to figure out her world.

Aside from the usual what, where, why, how type questions she has a few others that she will ask. For example, we have a black squirrel who lives in our neighbor’s tree. Every day the squirrel runs back and forth along the top of our fence from it’s nest in the backyard to a tree in the front yard. Both kids (and our dog) like to watch the squirrel run back and forth throughout the day. They giggle when it runs passed and she always asks the same thing: “Mommy, what did the squirrel do?”

She also has gotten into the habit of asking the same question every night around dinner time. About that time she starts noticing that the sun is going down, so she asks “Is it morning time?” We always tell her that it’s nighttime and the sun is going down not up, but she still asks every single day. We actually joke about it now. It’s that regular.

Every day, all day it’s a constant stream of “Where are we going?” “Who’s coming over?” “Can I have a snack?” “Can I watch a show?” “Are we going shopping today?” “Can we go see Deb?” “What is that?” “Can I play dressing up?” “Where’s Papa?” …

The constant questions and talking is both cute and annoying at the same time. She likes to know everything and tell us what she sees and what she’s thinking. Now Joe-Joe is starting to pick up on this already. He’s started asking “What is it?” “(Can I) have it?” and during the day when my hubby is at work it’s “Where Papa?” All I can think is, here we go again!

Nicole:

Evie has ALWAYS been a “Chatty Cathy”. From the time she was 16 months old, we were having pretty decent conversations and it has only grown more and more since then. Now, not only does she constantly have something to say...and I mean CONSTANTLY...but she’s always asking what it’s all about. While I applaud her curiosity, sometimes it leaves me a bit overwhelmed and frustrated.

I can’t exactly remember when the Why’s started, but it’s been a while. And it’s not just why but who, what, where and when! My kid wants to know all the answers under the sun, and I don’t have them all. “Why are apples red? Why does Milo cry? Where did the dogs come from? When I was a baby, did I eat spaghetti?”. It all sounds so harmless but AHHHHHH!!! At the end of the day, these harmless little questions add up and I’m going crazy!

When she first started with the questions, I was pretty patient and I answered as best I could. But as the questions got more frequent and harder to answer, I started having to get a bit creative! Not just because I didn’t know the answer, but I had to get amusement somehow! “Where does chocolate milk come from? -- Brown cows...”, simple as that.

I know a lot of parents aren’t into stretching the truth with their kids, and while I respect that, I’m ok with throwing my kid a little white lie now and again. The innocence of a child only last so long and I’m SURE when she’s 10 and finds out the moon is not made of swiss cheese, she’s not really gonna care that I told her that (and if she does, well she’s being a drama queen and she’s got to knock that off!).

These days, it’s not just asking the questions, it’s CONSTANT talking. All day, in the car, in the bathroom, at the park, at school, at swim class...ALL THE TIME! And I don’t want to discourage her from being so friendly, outgoing and social, I also need her to know that talking at the top of her lungs when Pop’s taking a nap probably isn’t the best time. So for now I handle it with humor and a fairly constant “rest your voice...” because she’s only 3 and she needs to know it’s ok to ask Mommy questions. But sometimes Mommy needs some quiet and she needs to respect that as well!

We want our little ones to be curious and interested in the world around them! But, as with so many other trials in parenting, it’s hard to strike a balance between asking questions and being a bit pesty!

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How do you handle the Why’s? We’d love to hear from you all! Please share with us in the comments below.

Bob M January 30, 2013 at 09:46 PM
Having raised two daughters the "whys" and repetitive questions can get frustrating at times. But remember two things. You are their first and best teacher at this age, so how you treat this can have an affect on their future inquisitive minds. And, there may become a time when you are old suffering from dementia, asking repeated questions of your children. Be careful, you reap the seeds you sow.
Mason Mccarty January 31, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Why? (come on we all knew this was bound to happen)
Frank Geefay January 31, 2013 at 06:40 PM
When my children were very young they started to ask me a lot of ‘whys’. I didn't know if they understood my answers or simply were not interested because they would often ask the same question over and over again. But this never stopped me from trying to give them answers because I knew that sometimes they got it. As they grew older they started getting the answers more consistently and not ask the same question over again. I know this because they often expressed the answers during some of our conversations. It is a couple of decades later now and they are grown up and I am the one now asking most of the questions. They tell me increasingly frequently that I had asked that question before. I'm no longer sure who is the child and who is the adult. But that is as it should be. I am embarrassingly proud to be the child asking the questions now and my children the adults patiently giving the answers. I now have to learn to overcome embarrassment with humility since the shoe is now on the other foot, not an easy thing for an aging senior, if only I could remember.
Frank Geefay January 31, 2013 at 06:49 PM
I guess I had a senior moment. I failed to carefully read the earlier comment made by Bob M. and Mason.

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