According to this study children ask a lot of questions. I know. Ground breaking. Who knew?
The most prolific questioners are girls aged 4 years, asking a whopping 390 questions per day, which is an average of a question every 1 minute and 56 seconds while awake.
My daughter is 3 and this sounds about accurate to me. Though 385 of those questions are simply “Why?”
Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?!
And I think I know WHY she asks so many questions….
Some of our “Why” conversations are fairly reasonable.
Me “Can you please put your socks and shoes on?”
Me “So we can walk to school to pick up your brother.”
Her “Oh! Yes Mummy!”
Too easy! One single “why” alone is often very simple to answer. It’s when she strings a few together that the answers get more complicated.
“Can you please get dressed.”
“Because we’re about to go out.”
“Because we’re going to the park now. You need to get dressed before we go.”
“Because you’re not allowed to go outside naked.”
“Because… that’s just the way it is. Mummy can’t go outside naked either.”
“Why not Mummy?”
Some things don’t have easy answers.
“Be careful up there, you might fall down.”
Or are just a tiny bit evil.
“Please don’t hit your brother”
“Because it’s not a nice thing to do.”
“Because it hurts him. You don’t want to hurt your brother do you?”
“Because…….. Just don’t do it, okay?”
This is what we do. All day. Every day. Often the same questions. Over and over and over again.
I’ve seen Memes floating around on social media suggesting that children ask however many hundreds of questions a day and that these are all learning opportunities.
Which is a lovely idea and I guess it depends on the age of the child and the kinds of questions they’re asking. And I try not to resort to “BECAUSE I SAID SO” too often. But viewing each and every question I’m asked every day – by both my children – as a learning opportunity, I have no doubt my brain would start leaking from my ears. I just don’t have it in me to enthusiastically answer each and every question – not matter how illogical they are – with patience and wisdom.
Some of the questions I’m asked are absolutely learning opportunities, where my children are genuinely seeking knowledge and understanding, like last week my son was talking about where meat comes from. He understands chicken meat comes from chicken, and lamb comes from lamb, ham and bacon comes from pig and then he announces that he thinks that some meat comes from people and looks to me for confirmation.
So after many questions back and forth he now (hopefully) fully understands that people don’t eat meat from people – people eat meat that comes from people like farmers, from animals on their farms, but nobody is making sausages out of human arms and legs.
Got it? Good. (Wow)
Sometimes it’s better to answer their questions with questions, to help them think through “Why” something might be.
“Why do you think you need to wear clothes outside?”
And others times teaching children the skill of finding answers themselves is more valuable than any answer could be.
“That’s an interesting question, I’m not sure why the moon is out during the day, how about we go onto the computer and find out?” (Or go to the library – whichever works for you.)
And SOMETIMES they are just asking questions for the sake of asking questions. The same questions, repeatedly, all day.
But they’re not talking back; most of the time they’re actually just talking.
They’re making conversation with me, in the only way they know how. And while sometimes my answers are essential to raising sensible, inquisitive, empathetic, non-cannibalistic children, most of the time what matters most is not what the answers are, but that I’m answering them.
Because 385 out of 390 questions a day are not learning opportunities, they’re bonding opportunities.
Do your children ask a lot of questions? How do you go about answering them?