Kids have the knack of asking questions that can leave you stumped. To help you in such situations, here are some tips on how to answer your kids' most vexing questions.
A child’s brain is like a sponge. It gobbles up an enormous amount of knowledge every minute of the day. The world is unfolding before them for the first time, and they a curious bunch. So it’s really no suprise that they constantly bombard us with questions.
Now the typical yes, no questions are a breeze for all of us. But the real problem begins when they start to ask the “why” questions.
It’s funny how an innocent child’s question could jolt us into the realisation that we have been taking a lot of things for granted. These little ‘brats’ could make us feel cornered and bewildered with questions like, “Dad, why is the sky blue?”
And nothing could be worse than a “why” question than a series of “why” questions.
My 4 year-old would ask, “What are you doing, Dad?”
“Working,” I’d answer.
“Why?” She’d ask.
“So we can have money.” I’d answer.
“Why?” She’d ask again.
“So we can buy food.” My answer.
“Why?” She’d ask again.
“So we can eat.”
“Why do we eat?”
Even the “what” questions can also be very daunting. I remember one occasion where I was outdoors with my girl. I was introducing her to nature. I was pointing things out to her and naming them like, “Those are clouds….That is a tree.” It was a pleasant windy afternoon and the leaves were swaying. I said, “Oh, I love the wind.” She asked, “What is wind?” Whoops!
Now how, brown cow?
How we deal with our child’s questions (even when they are the most mundane questions) could either spur his curiosity further or altogether dampen his interest for learning. It is very important then that we should handle these questions squarely.
To do this, I would recommend these two considerations:
1. As much as possible, never refuse to answer a question.
2. Never go around the question with “Just because,” or “Because I say so.” or “Because that’s how it is.”
Never refuse to answer a question
It is perfectly okay to admit to your child that you don’t know the answer – but don’t stop with the “I don’t know” answer. While you show an example of honesty, you should also encourage critical thinking.
When my child asked me why the sky is blue, I was stumped. I never wondered why it was blue in the first place. Now, my child got me wondering why it is blue. Instead of trying to save your pride by ignoring the question or telling your child to stop asking questions, it would be helpful to tell her just that.
“Hey, I never thought about that! Good question.” Praise her for such an intelligent question (this encourages and affirms critical thinking). “Now, let’s see…why is the sky blue? Maybe because….” you can then try to come up with several guesses. Make sure you make your child understand that you are not making a conclusion (remember, encourage critical thinking) and that you will research on it. Make sure you do really research on it and update her as soon as you get the correct answer. It doesn’t matter if days have passed. What is important is that you come back with an answer.
As much as possible, walk your child through the answer. When asked, “What is wind?” I blew at my daughter’s hair and cheek. Then I asked her, “Did you feel that?” I blew again. She said, “Yes.” I said, “That’s wind that I blew in your hair and cheek. See those leaves? They’re moving because of the wind.” And she understood the concept of “wind.”