How to to Answer Your Child’s Questions
Once your child is asking questions, you now have to answer them all. This includes the difficult and awkward questions. But don’t worry: we’ve got your back with some great advice and information on how to teach your child to answer questions! Understanding preschoolers’ sometimes odd or repetitive questions can prove challenging for parents who are not prepared.
If you find yourself wondering “Why is my child asking this question again!?” it may help to understand that there are a few reasons:
One: Asking the same question over and over for clarification. Even though your child may seem persistent, they’re not really expecting any different answers; they just want to make sure that you’ve got the story straight. If you give a new answer, they may ask it again to see if there’s been any change.
Two: Asking the question because your child likes the sound of their own voice or simply that it gives them something to do with their mouth while thinking about the question and how they want to phrase their response for maximum cuteness.
Three: It’s the only way your child knows how to ask their question. They might hear you speak in full, grammatically correct sentences and think that is the best (and only) way to express themselves. If they don’t do it this way, they may not feel confident enough to ask at all. Realizing that it’s not just you who has to learn how to speak your child’s language will help you better understand their behavior.
What should parents do when their preschooler asks the same question over and over?
Parents often wonder if they should give the same answer every time or try an alternative response, like asking a question back.
When your child asks a question, you can ask what they think the answer is. You could also offer a limited number of acceptable answers and have them select one. This strategy has worked well for many parents who have been at their wits’ end with questions! Sometimes a few less-than-serious responses will release some tension and reduce the number of times the same question is asked.
For example, you child could ask “What are we doing tonight?” Instead of repeating yourself, you could respond with “I don’t know honey; what do you think we should do?” or offer some options like “Why don’t we give you a bath and read books before bed?”
In short, just do whatever works best for you and your child. Kids are surprisingly forgiving if parents answer a question with a different approach or choice of words. As long as the parent continues to show interest and engagement in what their child is saying, kids will usually be satisfied!
What should parents do when they don’t know the answer to their child’s question?
Sometimes children ask questions that are difficult to answer. Maybe your child asked you what happens when they die or where do babies come from. If this is the case, the following strategies may be helpful:
For example, if you child asks “Where do babies come from?” You could say:
“That’s a good question sweetheart; I was wondering that myself. I think babies grow from the mommy’s tummy, don’t you?” If your child says “yes” and seems satisfied with this answer, consider leaving it at that.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up or avoid all difficult conversations – just pick your battles! You can tell your child you’d love to talk more about the topic, but not now. Then let it go for a while before trying again.
Parents have so many different strategies they use when their child asks them another one of those “come on!” questions! The best advice is whatever works for you and your family.
There are a few common ones that have been found to be helpful though:
- Check in with your child about what they’ve heard after you’ve answered the question. Ask them if they understand or if there’s anything else they want to know.
- Ask your child how much longer he or she thinks will be thinking about the topic. For example, “Ok, so what do you think? Are we done with this question now?”
- Agree to revisit the question later on your own or together at another time. This can work especially well if your child is asking for information they are not emotionally ready to hear.
What if parents’ answers to their child’s questions don’t seem quite right?
It can be hard for parents to answer some of the more difficult questions that they may encounter. Sometimes parents feel guilty or don’t know how to answer certain types of questions, but it is especially important not to sugar coat the truth. Older children are always trying to find out what they can and cannot handle, so parents should try their best to be as honest as possible.
A good response might sound like: “I don’t know the answer to that yet, but I’m going to find an answer and we’ll talk more about it when I do.”
However, there are times when a child may ask a question out of their own curiosity, but the answer may be too much for them at that moment. For example, if your child asks “What’s AIDS?” You might want to say:
“That’s a good question sweetie; I really didn’t think you were ready to hear about that yet. Is there anything else you’d like to know about?”
Talking openly and honestly with your child is the best way to go, but it’s OK if the answer isn’t the perfect fit for them right away. Give your child space to digest what they’ve heard until they are ready for more information.
Keep in mind that certain information may not be age appropriate for children depending on things such as their level of understanding and what they’ve already been exposed to.
How should parents respond if their child asks an inappropriate question?
The following strategies may be helpful:
- Ignore the question or issue, if possible. Some questions are better left ignored by adults so that children can find out where the boundaries lie. If you don’t want to answer it, just say so.
- Use humor when answering an inappropriate question. This is a great way to show children they can ask questions about hard or scary things without getting in trouble or feeling embarrassed. Just make sure the context of your humor is appropriate for children’s sensitive ears..
- Explain why something is inappropriate to ask. This is a good way to make your child feel safe asking you anything while still letting them know they can’t do something or say something anywhere else.
- Teach children what types of questions are, and are not, appropriate in certain settings. For example: “It’s not okay to ask about people’s bodies at school, but you can ask me about them when we get home.”
- Teach children how to politely decline to answer a question they don’t want to answer. This is especially important in situations where your child may not feel comfortable saying “no”. For example: You might say “That’s an interesting question. I’d rather talk about this later, okay?”
- Laugh along with your children to show them that their actions are not mean-spirited or harmful.
What if I don’t know the answer to my child’s questions?
Sometimes parents feel embarrassed because they cannot provide an adequate response for their child’s tough questions. However, it is important to remember that this is a natural response, and that not knowing the answer to something doesn’t make you a bad parent.
In these cases it’s helpful to say something like: “That’s a good question, but I don’t know the answer right now.”
It can also be helpful to offer your child other resources where he or she can find answers, such as books or the internet.
What if the answer is too uncomfortable to talk about?
In some cases, children may ask questions that parents might not be ready to answer yet. For example: “Where do babies come from?” It can be hard for parents to know whether they should tell their child now, or wait a little longer to provide the best possible answer they can.
Talking openly and honestly with your child is the best way to go, but it’s OK if the answer isn’t the perfect fit for them right away. Give your child space to digest what they’ve heard until they are ready for more information..
It’s important that parents find an opportunity to talk with their child about sexual health as soon as they feel ready to have this conversation.
Why is it important for children to ask questions?
Asking questions is a natural part of a child’s development and curiosity, and helps them learn about the world around them.
It also shows that your child trusts you enough to talk openly with you about these types of things.
When your child knows that they can come to you with any question, it allows them to feel safe and supported as they grow up..
Even if you don’t know the answer to a question, answering with a “let’s find out” response is a good way to show your child that you’re interested in learning with them.
What are some other questions children should feel comfortable asking their parents? There are many questions children should be able to ask their parents, including:
- Where do babies come from?
- Why do I have to go to bed?
- What happens when I get sick?
- Who can I tell my secrets to?
If you’re having trouble thinking of questions children might ask, try asking yourself what you would want your child to know. Then make sure you answer those questions at home!