Best Way to Answer with a Child’s Question

Once your child starts talking, she will soon realize that asking questions is one way to find out more about her world. The wonderful thing about asking questions is that it involves social contact with you; it’s a very pleasant way for her to learn. A young child’s questions generally fall into one of these categories:

  • Facts. “Why is grass green?” “Who makes dogs have a tail?” “When is my favorite TV program on?” “Why is rain wet?” These kinds of questions enable your child to acquire infor­mation about specific aspects of her life that interest her. Some of these questions can be very complex, even though they appear straightforward.

Answer Child’s Question Best Way to Answer with a Child’s Question

  • Permission. “Can I have another candy?” “Will you take me to the park?” “Is it all right if we play outside?” “Can I draw now?” These questions let a child test the limits of accept­able behavior and help her establish the boundaries within her immediate environment.
  • Ideas/feelings. “Why are you crying?” “What will happen if I don’t go to school today?” “What do ice cream and fries taste like together?” These questions allow your child to express her ideas and feelings, and to assess how other peo­ple react to them.

You may find that your child asks you the same question even though you gave her a satisfactory reply a few minutes ago. She does this for a number of reasons. First, your child may not understand the answer you gave, even though she seemed satis­fied at the time. Asking the question again gives her another opportunity to think about the issue and to confirm what you originally told her. It is highly unlikely that she repeats ques­tions just to annoy you! Second, asking questions is a good way to get your attention, because most parents are pleased when their child shows interest in something; your child will soon realize that this strategy is very effective. In some instances, two-year-olds and three-year-olds repeat questions solely to attract more attention.

Always answer your child’s questions in a way she can understand. Explaining theories of nutrition to a four-year-old who asks why hamburgers are so tasty is absolutely pointless. Don’t be tempted to give the sort of in-depth reply you would give to an adult who asked you the same question. Look close­ly at the expression on your child’s face when you answer her— if she seems bored and disinterested, then you have almost cer­tainly gone over her head.

Answer Child’s Question 1 Best Way to Answer with a Child’s Question

You may find your child is adept at asking questions that you can’t always answer. For instance, do you know why the sky is blue? Probably not—and there’s no harm admitting that to your child when she asks. Tell her you don’t know, and look up the information in a reference book together.

Your child may ask a question you find embarrassing but which she, in her innocence, does not (for example, “Why do you always fight with each other?” or “Where do babies come from?”). A young child is much less inhibited and is quite happy to ask about these issues. Such questions might make you feel uncomfortable, perhaps because the question is about sex, or because your child asks it very loudly in a crowded supermarket. You may say, “Let’s talk about this when we get home,” and then do it. Whatever your own feelings, if your child cares enough to ask a question about something personal then she deserves a reply—one that is honest, yet worded so that she understands what you say. Never tell your child that she shouldn’t ask such questions, since she may become afraid to express herself openly.

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