Has your child started asking endless questions? We have some answers…
Three is an age of great curiosity. If your child has reached this magical stage, you’ll be only too familiar with the endless, brain-twisting questions that they come up with, from “Where do clouds come from?” and “Why is grass green?” to “Why don’t mummies have willies?”
Curiosity is an important stage of development. Three-year-olds are trying harder than ever before to make sense of their world. They are developing fast intellectually and have wild imaginations. And as their thinking becomes more abstract, they want to know the meaning behind everything – hence the questions!
It’s a way to grab your attention
Of course, children of this age realise that asking questions is a great way to get your attention.“Children want to engage in interaction,” says speech and language therapist Anna Mackay-Smith. “Asking questions and getting answers gives them enormous satisfaction – even when they already know the answer.”
Keep on answering!
As your child’s speaking ability combines with their thirst for knowledge, you may get a little fed up with their questions. It may even be tempting to ignore your child’s cries of “Why?” sometimes. But this isn’t a good idea. Remember that your responses are helping them to learn. Not answering your child may stifle their desire to communicate, dampen curiosity and result in added frustration – something no child needs. A three-year-old has very little control over their environment, and being unable to get answers to their questions will make them feel that they have even less power. So tap into your inner resources of patience and keep your answers coming!
Sometimes, answering your child’s “Why?” with a “Why do you think…?” can help break the monotony and encourage them to think for themselves.
Find out the answers together
Your child’s questions can lead to greater education for the whole family, particularly when they have a scientific basis. When Craig, three-and-a-half, asked his mum why the sky was blue, it triggered a family investigation that involved digging out the encyclopedia and surfing the net. Craig learnt the important lesson that adults don’t know the answers to everything, but that there are ways of finding things out.
“You can share with your child that it’s frustrating not to know everything,” says child psychotherapist Rachel Pick. “It’s important to convey the message that you cannot be an expert on all things so that your child feels you are empathising with her own feelings of vulnerability.”
“Yes, but why?”
Sometimes, just when you think you’ve answered a tricky question to the best of your ability, your child follows up with “Yes, but why?”
However frustrating you find it, aim to avoid replying: “Because it just is!”
Instead, explain that not everything has a logical or rational reason, and that there are some things about the world we just have to accept.
Finally, appreciate this stage while it lasts – after all, it’s only small children that think you have all the answers!
Getting a lot of tricky questions at the moment? Find out how to answer awkward questions from your preschooler