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How do you answer your child's "why" questions?

Do you have kids between the ages of 4 and 8 years who constantly ask you questions like “Why is soap so slippery?”, “Why do zebras have stripes?”, and “Why don’t sheep shrink when it rains?” Or even harder questions, like “What does death mean?” or “Why are kids not allowed to drink alcohol?”

I would be very interested to know how you answer these questions when you are confronted with them and you don’t know the answer. Do you look for information on Wikipedia or in an encyclopedia and if so, are you able to “translate” what you read into a language your kids can understand? Do you sometimes/often just confess that you don’t know? Do you brainstorm with your kids about possible answers?

Thanks very much!

Answer Question

Asked by Constanze300 at 3:25 PM on Apr. 14, 2009 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (9)
  • I used to drive my mom NUTS with why questions. She bought me these books that were titled, "When," "Why," "What," "Where," and "How" lol

    Answer by a_and_j_momma at 3:26 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • Also one was "Who."

    Answer by a_and_j_momma at 3:27 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • When my children learned to read, I encouraged them to google their questions or look in an encyclopedia, dictionary etc. It helps them to learn if you can teach them to find answers for themselves. That way they grow up to be free-thinkers who find answers for themselves instead of just believing "what everybody says".

    Answer by TessaBianca at 3:44 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • hmm... I answer to the best of my ability- we usually have these conversations in the car on the way to school,. and she has yet to ask a question i couldn't answer.

    I am married to a man other than their father so I do sometimes get questions about the two daddy issue I have to modify for age appropriateness- but I guess that is going pretty well thus far.

    Answer by LuckyClown at 3:51 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • Mine hasn't started entered this phase yet but when she does, I'll start by asking her "Why do you think it's ____?" Her answer will help me answer her better since I'll have some idea of exactly what she wants to know and what she knows already. I do this now with her "what's that" questions and it works fairly well.

    Answer by kaycee14 at 7:07 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • I used to say "because it is" when my oldest daughter first started the "why" stage. I started thinking about it and she does need to know about things around her. I mean, all children are curious, right? I now just answer her the best I can. Some questions are kind of hard to answer but I tell her that I can get back to her later. When she gets older, she can look all this up herself. Her sister is going to be right behind her though! LOL

    Answer by QueenBee319 at 7:28 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • I answer as truthfully as I can. Quite often, we start answering his question and end up discussing something else! lol

    We've covered why lightbulbs get warm when they're turned on. Why balls stop rolling. What a resistor does in an electrical circuit. Why gravity is different on different planets. Why there are no more dinosaurs. And why the black spot disappeared on Neptune.

    And he's only just turned 5. I'm in trouble. lol

    Answer by TiccledBlue at 8:31 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • My 6 year old asks WHY all the time and when I'm feeling lazy I say "why do you think?" sometimes that works! Obviously you can't answer them all!

    Answer by stepmom929 at 10:38 PM on Apr. 14, 2009

  • Thanks so much to everybody who replied. I appreciate every insight on the matter very much. Especially asking "why do you think this is" is a very good strategy because so often there is more behind a question than it seems at first sight.

    If you research somewhere for an answer - what sources do you use?

    Thanks again. Constanze

    Answer by Constanze300 at 4:04 PM on Apr. 21, 2009

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