Saturday 16 November 2013

The Sunday Parenting Party - Answering Kids Questions

(Goblin is 4 years old)

It's really important to answer kids questions no matter how random or inane/insane they sound.
Kids ask questions to help them make sense of the world. Giving a full and truthful answer helps them to learn about their surroundings. 

Kids also ask questions as a way of interacting and having connection with a parent. So brushing off a question with "because I said so" is saying "I don't want to connect with you right now".

A good question shows an appetite for knowledge and will usually be followed up with another good question or a hypothesis. On the other hand a repetition of the word "why" may show an appetite for connection rather than necessarily for knowledge. Either way, a good answer shows you are engaged and care about your child interests.

Often Goblin asks questions that I don't have the answers to. I don't lie and make up an answer, I don't dumb down and I don't claim something happens by magic just because I don't understand the science. I admit I don't know. We theorise on what the answer might be, and we agree to look it up later. This plants the seed of learning how to research things. It empowers my child to know where to seek his own knowledge.
It drives me nuts when parents at the zoo answer a child's question of 'what is that animal?' with a made up answer - looking at a gopher and saying its a rat - or dumb it down by calling it a 'kitty cat' when its a Leopard! There is a sign next to the cage, you can teach your child by reading the sign. Otherwise why go to the zoo? 

The other day we were playing with Goblin's tanks. He asked me what kind of tanks they were. I didn't have a clue having exactly zero knowledge of tanks. So he went and found his tank spotter guide (purchased by Hublet after a trip to the Imperial War Museum) and we looked up the shape of the tank and estimated what the tank might be. This was a lesson in research and in estimation, and also in the fact that Mummy doesn't always have the answers. 

I was reading articles about Reggio Emilia educational philosophy the other day. In one by Interaction Imagination the following struck me 

"Moss (2007,p.136) writes that a previous mayor of the city claimed the Fascist experience had taught the citizens’ of Reggio Emilia that people who conformed were dangerous and that this is why the parents so desired critical thinking for their children."

It is healthy to questions and challenges the world, and as parents we can foster and nurture our child's curiosity by answering their questions effectively, and showing them how to answer them themselves.

Taming the Goblin
Some posts from last weeks link up that I recommend reading include:
Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


  1. I have to really check my patience at the door, with regard to answering questions. My children bombard me from sun up til sundown. Argh.

    I'm praying for more patience.

  2. Love Reggio Emilio too- rooted in anarchist thought. Presume you've seen Lori's site, project based learning. Powerful stuff.

  3. I think you've hit the nail on the head when it comes to answering questions; be honest and say that you don't know the answer but that it can be found out. I also turn it around and say, "Why do you think?"

  4. I've never thought about this as my son isn't really talking yet but I totally agree with you and will do the same.

  5. These are some really good points and teaching children where to look for information is a great idea. I also think the point about theorising is important. I would sometimes ask "Why do you think it is?" in response to one of the "whys". The beginning of critical thinking and helping your child to understand the world around them.


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