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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Toddler Tricks - 51: Why Ask Why?

Problem: Your child has reached the age where everything is a question. They need to know about every menial task and action from the end result all the way back to the root of the idea. Usually this happens with "why." They can ask why, forever. There is almost nothing that stops the why. So what can you do other than invest in earplugs?

Solution: Take them seriously. Now, this is going to take place approximately a million times a day, so you won't be able to play every questioning jag out to its conclusion without most likely losing your mind, but as often as you can, answer them with the next answer, and the next answer, and the next answer. If you think of it as a game, yourself, and one that doesn't involve you down on your knees chasing them around, the whys really aren't so bad. It's sometimes fun to see where the train of thought will go. Be truthful, or as truthful as you can when you answer. They're not asking to bother you. They're asking because they want to know, and if you can give them enough attention so that they know you're taking them seriously, they'll give your answers due attention, so that when you actually get down to the nitty-gritty details, they'll usually be so astounded that they chill out and think about it for a while, giving you at least a ten minute break. Here's an example of this:

Dulce: "Why go bed, mama?"
Me: "Because it's nighttime."
Dulce: "Why nighttime?"
Me: "Because it's dark out."
Dulce: "Why dark?"
Me: "Because the sun went down."
Dulce: "Why sun go-ded down?"
Me: "Because the Earth rotates around the sun. Like this. See my finger? My fist here is the sun, and the Earth, which is this finger over here, turns on its axis, so that this side during the day faces the sun...that's the side we're on...but it keeps turning around so that eventually this side...the side we're longer faces the sun and we can't see it. And without the sun, it's dark. And these little circles happen over and over again until we get back to this same spot around the sun next year. See?"
Dulce: "Oh, okay."

Problem: You really don't have the time or the patience on that particular day to go around and around with your child, no matter how enthusiastic they are. You need an alternate answer to BECAUSE so that you don't end up shouting it at them.

Solution: Let them get a few why questions out so that they don't feel like you are shutting them down right away. Then instead of saying "because" or "because I said so," answer them with a question so that they have something to think about as the game ends. This gives them power and leaves them pondering.  Here's an example.

Dulce: "Whadda dooding?"
Me: "Cleaning the kitchen."
Dulce: "Why clean the kitchen?"
Me: "Because it has to be clean before daddy gets home."
Dulce: "Why hafta clean before daddy home?"
Me: "Because we make it dirty."
Dulce: "Why make it dirty?"
Me: "Because we do all the cooking in here."
Dulce: "Why do cooking?"
Me: "So we can eat."
Dulce: "Why eat?"
Me: "So we can live."
Dulce: "Why live?"
Me: "Why not?"

End of conversation.

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