Answering your Child’s Toughest Questions???

Knowing the answers will help you in school, Knowing how to question will help                                                              you in Life” – Warren Berger

WHY ? WHAT? WHEN ? HOW? seems to be endless and boring.  Sometimes annoying too for a busy mom, dad or a care giver. According to a new study, average kids under the age of four ask 73 questions per day, and some over a grueling 14 hour stretch. This relentless interrogation about everything you can think of leaves one third of parents exhausted, and many dashing off to their cellphones to Google the correct answer. But quote unquote, “we”, the parents also feel happy and proud to attend and solve the tiny riddles of there curious mind. Witnessing there sparkling eyes when there curiosity  is attended, discussed and concluded fills our heart with a different level of satisfaction.

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Have you ever wondered why our children ask “WHY” so often??

Children are curious and they should be!! They want to learn and know everything around them, the question “why” helps them in making the sense of the world and the things happening around them. It also helps in building concepts, vocabulary, skills and understanding of the unknown. We “the parents” play a very important role in shaping this beautiful learning process. Our response for them is crucial and pivotal. Though, as per child physiologist the kids pour us with questions also to grab attention on them. What so ever, paying attention to them and their mind is the key for most of them.

I know, we the responsible grown ups lack time majorly. Sometimes, the clock doesn’t allow us even to talk. Answering a query or solving their puzzle is out of question. So, how about squeezing just 30 mins everyday before bed time and help them framing there thought. And trust me the story which you will see in their eyes will be more then that thirty minutes. The comfort and satisfaction will be all yours.

 How to make them realize “You are Listening”?

  • Encourage “Why”: Do this by responding in a supportive manner. Give an informative answer and, you can also attach another “why” with it , just to tickle there brain. (E.g. “Why does it rain?”…. (you can make the answer simple/ elaborate depending upon the age of your child). You can attach your “why” as ” Do you think the birds enjoy rain? or what they do when it rains? When I asked my 3.7 year this question..his answer was worth listening to. And, since that day I have seen his eyes looking for birds enjoying rain, and then drying themselves. It is very important to give them the opportunity to connect more and more with mother nature, as the she has all the answers within her.
  • Ask a lots of “why” questions yourself, (e.g.. if your kid is helping you in kitchen..”Why do you think this soup which I am cooking needs more water? ) To show them learning is a lifelong process.
  • Also your tone should be polite and welcoming that allows your child for a comfortable approach next time on wards.
  • Read books to your child that contains many questions (e.g National Geographic First Big Book of Why?)
    aadi
    It’s ok , if they express sadness..

Until five years of age, I enjoyed answering my elder one’s question, with an answer ready in my head ( though I always pretended to think a little bit before answering). But, soon after the arrival of my little one, the question bank of my kindergartner started growing up. I felt, a lack of being able to answer his direct questions. As, framing of sentence with  correct terminology, keeping them simple and precise was occasionally challenging. Today , he is eight and the journey of question answer session between us has been amazing. We have discussed many topics until now, Some questions have made me laugh and rolled (of course, not in front of him), some has bowled me over, some has made me cried, some made me give him a tight hug and assurance. And, few made me realize ” My child is growing”.

I am sure many of us are walking on this path with me, some are tying up their laces and some are being curious. And you all are welcome to share their journey. To start with mine…I will be sharing with you few of the most commonly asked questions starting by a toddler to a 5th grader  elementary school.

Where does the babies comes from?

The most common question, often asked, and we all have answered it, as per our comfort and child’s age. When the question was aimed to me by my preschooler I suddenly recalled the stork of my baby shower cake with a baby wrapped in a cloth in its beak. He was happy for the answer and he asked innocently looking at the sky, Was I wearing my diaper , mommy??

download stork
courtesy image : shutterstock

What to Say at Each Age??

Toddlers (ages 2-3) — “They’re curious and they just asked you without thinking anything. Kids at this age may not even wait for an answer. So, you can simply tell them babies come from the hospital.

Preschoolers (ages 3-4) — Tell 4-year-old about an egg and a seed, but don’t try to explain sex, which they can’t grasp. Preschoolers who have seen seeds grow into plants will often accept this explanation.

School Age (ages 5-7) — If your elementary-age child is very mature, you can tell them, when God sees mom and dad happy and in love with each other. They give baby as a gift to them. And you can wait a few years until your child asks for more information. Find a visual book at the library or a bookstore that show how a baby grows in the womb.

Older kids (age 8 & older) — Child at this age know a lot these days, if you feel comfortable you can give them more information. You want to be your children’s resource for accurate information. They’ll go somewhere else for the facts of life if they don’t get them from you.

Why do people are homeless?

One of the toughest questions kids can ask — and one they often ask over and over — is “why people are homeless”. We see them so around us, that this question can come anytime.

And this is one fact of life that deserve a straightforward answer: “Homelessness is caused by poverty. Poverty is lack of resources. Sometimes it’s a lack of money and the person can’t pay for a place to live, but most of the time it’s a lack of friends and family that are able to help them when they need it most,”   I was ready with answer as my elder one brought this topic on way back home from LA Downtown. A perfect time to discuss this sensitive topic as my chirpy little one was fast asleep. As expected after discussion he was sad about the fact of “homelessness”, and so, a warm hug was the perfect end as we reached our parkway. At this age, children are quite literal, so your discussions with them need to be simple and to the point. And to effectively explain such a complex subject:

Wait for your child to bring the topic. If you encounter a homeless person, your child may have questions, and this is a good opportunity to teach them.

Express empathy and sadness for the person. By emphasizing how you feel sad that some people don’t have a place to live, you provide an opportunity for children to understand the importance of recognizing others’ hardships while modeling empathy.

Provide a simple explanation to their question. We’ve all been asked questions by small children about our homeless neighbors (Why? How come?) It’s best to respond with an answer that a small child can understand, i.e. “Some people don’t have enough money to afford a home to live”.

Avoid discussing additional components such as mental illness or disability Unless your child has specifically asked, adding in this layer will only confuse a young child.

Encourage your child to discuss how to help. At this age, donating toys or picking-out items to give to a nonprofit may make more of an impact than donating money, which may be too abstract for some young children. That said, depending on your level of involvement, it may be appropriate to provide opportunities for your children to give through family activities like hosting a donation drive, or collecting donations in lieu of birthday gifts or holiday gifts.

Assure your child that there are options for those struggling with homelessness. Young children may have feelings of sadness or worry after hearing that some children don’t have a place to live. Assure them that there are organizations who help homeless people find places to live, and reassure them of their own safety and security.

 

Discussing death with your kid can be a real concern, and many of us tend to avoid it.  Death is however an inevitable part of life and it s our responsibility to make sure our kids are aware of it and its okay to discuss it. As, if we allow children to talk to us about death, we can give them needed information, prepare them for a crisis, and help them when they are upsets.
In my case, I got stumped by this question from my 7 year at the most unexpected moment, and I just could not give him an appropriate answer. After having a long happy play time and pizza with his friends, he knocked me down with this query , while I was happy about a well spent day. Children are sensitive barometers of emotion and are tremendous observers. They know something is wrong by simply watching us. Our body language, emotions on our faces, what we say and what we don’t say are all communicating a message to our kids. So, a comfortable communication, ideas sharing ,play time with them will allow to know them, their opinion and their insecurities more.

As far as this question is concerned.There are no “perfect” answers — the most important thing is to answer your child’s queries as patiently, simply, and gently as possible and to understand that her concerns and reactions will be different from yours.

Expect to have to repeat your answers over and over again, and provide plenty of reassurance that you’re there to love and care for her. (If, on the other hand, your preschooler hasn’t yet expressed curiosity about death, it’s better to hold off on your discussion until she does.)

“When will you die?” Children often ask questions that seem shocking or callous to adults.

This question was bowled to me ,while stacking dishwasher after dinner. “Mr. Curious” came for some water. As the refrigerator door was open for a little longer, I turned to him, his deep look at me came wrapped with the Question… ” Mom,what do you think when you gonna die???  I want to be with you daddy and aadi (my little one) forever. 

I hated this question….and got upset. But, soon realized his fear of loss and recollected myself… and asked

Me: Let’s have some ice cream..!!

Son: I just brushed.

Me: It’s okay…let the germs have party tonight…

We sat with the ice cream….and I said..

“Well ! Everyone has to die and I to will…but let me share a secret with you “I want you to know that… I plan to be here until I’m very, very old and you’re all grown up.” Not before that.

I filled his mouth with a big ice cream scoop…his yummm expression and smile assured me …”I am gonna be there….”!!! We hugged and as we finished eating ..I whispered….

Don’t forget to brush your teeth….

Son: Mom, no cheating….We smiled and had a good night sleep.

These questions are certainly not easy, but an effective communication can certainly make their understanding easy. Parents can do wonders… and life is wonderful. Nurturing good communication skills, so they are capable to express themselves is a key skill. Don’t just listen to them…feel them..  

A child’s ability to manage stress, feel confident and motivate themselves in later life has a lot to do with their early childhood experiences. A person’s self concept is their sense of who they are and how they feel about their place in the family and community.

They are SPECIAL, and so are YOU…and so is this RELATIONSHIP… 

So, folks…. HAPPY ANSWERING…

Don’t forget to share your question- answers, how well you handled them..We all can learn from each other.

 

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