The Barrage Has Begun

October 15, 2012 at 3:00 pm 5 comments

My daughter’s “Question Everything” switch has been turned on. This is a well-known phase for children that doesn’t require a lot of explanation. I knew this was coming and, honestly, don’t mind it at all. It is fascinating to watch her growing curiosity about her world. Also, if she is busy asking me questions it means she is not busy doing other things like throwing a cat down the stairs.

This phase in a child’s life drives many parents to the edge because it is a big test of our patience. The key for me is to remember my daughter is not asking questions because she wants to annoy me; she is either truly curious or she simply wants my attention. Both of those states require quality, supportive action from me.

I think I give her that. Usually.

Methods for the Madness

To help her get that quality attention she deserves I have developed a few response methods. The method I use is highly dependent upon my mood.

METHOD #1 – Full Engagement

When I am in a good mood and ready to be creative I just step right in to the questioning game. This is the best kind of exchange because it creates fun for both of us.

“Daddy, is it dart outside?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s night time.”
“Why?”
“Because the Sun is on the other side of the Earth now.”
“Why?”
“Because the Earth rotates once a day and right now we’re on the side that’s away from the Sun.”
“Why?”
“So people on the other side of the Earth can have some sunlight, too. When they have sunlight they can play outside. We can’t have the Sun on our side of the Earth all of the time. We need to share it. We had some sun today and now it’s other people’s turn to have some sun. Like when we share our toys.”
“Oh! We have da Sun an’ we tan play outside an’ an’ den other people tan have da Sun and den it’s dart and den WE have the Sun adenn!”

METHOD #2 – Parry and Riposte

Often if I’ve answered her questions she will begin the interrogation again. This happens because she isn’t really interested in the answers, she just wants attention. Sometimes I am busy with other tasks and don’t have the focus to use Full Engagement. If that’s the case then the best way to deal with this situation is to turn her questioning back on her.

“Whez Alice?”
“She’s at school.”
“Why?”
“Because it’s a school day and Alice needs to go to school today.”
“Why?”
“Because that’s what kids do when they are Alice’s age.”
“Whez Alice?”
“Hm. Where do you think Alice is?”
“Alice is at stool today betuzz… betuzz… she is five and she have ta go to STOOL!”
“That’s right!”

METHOD #3 – Distraction

Sometimes I just need to make it stop.

“Whez Mommy?”
“At work.”
“Why?”
“So she can make money.”
“Why?”
“Because without money we can’t buy things like earplugs for Dad.”
“Why?”
“Squirrel!”

Some Questions Have No Answers

I am not always successful at addressing this childhood phase. Sometimes there are certain questions my daughter asks that I can’t resolve with the aforementioned methods. For example:

“Daddy what is dat?”
“It’s a potato.”
“Why?”

This is when I break out the end game move: “Because it is.” The downside of this response is that it has come back to haunt me.

“Doodles, why did you pour your cereal into the cats’ water dish?”
“Betuzz I did.”

Embracing the Examinations

Overall, I think I have been able to handle this questioning phase very well. As long as I remember to allow her the freedom to be curious and don’t lose my patience with repetitive queries, this stage of her life may pass by with little damage to my mental state. I am learning more about my daughter as much as she is learning more about her world. It is a very valuable time in our lives.

“Why?”
“Betuzz it is.”

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Little Mom BIG World  |  October 25, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Funny, I was explaining this exact scenario to a friend of mine the other day!

    Reply
    • 2. Hop Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      Sometimes all I need to do is say to another parent “She’s asking ‘why’…” and I get the sympathetic groans and eye-rolling.

      It may sound funny to say but I’m happy it’s happening because it reaffirms to me that I’m a parent and I feel lucky to be experiencing this.

      Reply
  • 3. ericschneiderr  |  October 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

    Ha ha! Great techniques. I see why you liked my “Calvin’s Dad” entry. I think you’ll get to that point over time 🙂

    Reply
    • 4. Hop Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Yep. I can’t get too complex with my responses yet because she is only three. But as her intellect improves I’ll have to be ready to throw her some serious curve balls.

      Reply
  • 5. The Color of Bacon « Hop Dad  |  January 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    […] “Why?” […]

    Reply

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