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Should a 3 1/2 year old understand how to phrase a question?

I realize that as we are teaching our children to communicate, we often ask

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Asked by Anonymous at 8:01 AM on Oct. 15, 2009 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Answers (6)
  • Well, first, I hope you didn't jump on him for it in front of her. That's not going to help her learn to ask questions.

    As for if she should understand how to phrase it, she is only 3 1/2. Learning things like this does come, in large part, from example. So, for example, when she wanted the TV on, you (or her dad) could have said, "Ok, then can you say "daddy, can you please turn on the TV?'?" Then she repeats it.

    While it seems very simple to you, or to any other adult to phrase a question, we have to remember that we are adults and have been talking for many, many more years than a young child. Even at 3 1/2, she is still learning to talk, and there's also not a lot of that connection in the brain that says I want this so I need to ask this; her brain is still saying I want this so I'll just say I want this.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 8:18 AM on Oct. 15, 2009

  • I want to clarify my question since one poster seemed to misunderstand my question. When I tell my daughter to ASK, I tell her to say "Mommy can I have . . . " or "Daddy, I would like . . . ." Or something like that. I don't expect her to know how to rephrase a statement into a question on her own. But I've been working on this with her for several months. She can do it, she just doesn't do it consistently and I wonder if the fact that her Dad doesn't make her do it is the problem. Consistency is key with learning how to do something! Oh and when I "jumped" on her Dad, I merely said "She can ask a question. Thanks for undermining me." I don't think she understands sarcasm yet.

    Answer by lballred at 8:35 AM on Oct. 15, 2009

  • It sure seems like they know how to ask in a way that gets what they desire, but I think that is still to young to consciously choose the proper words for a desired result. A lot of it will be repeating the way the child has heard it before and if they don't get what they want, to try it a different way, even if that is using the same words only louder.

    Answer by DogsMom at 8:37 AM on Oct. 15, 2009

  • You said that she stood there "uncomfortably trying to phrase the question". That made it sound as though you expected her to figure it out for herself. I apologize.

    Part of it might be that dad doesn't make her do it. But part of it is just that she's 3 1/2. Just like potty training, this will take time too. My youngest is 6, and he didn't get really good at phrasing questions until just before he started pre-k at 4. It's just impulse. They want something, so they just kind of blurt it out. Keep reminding her and working with her, and eventually she'll get it. But dad does need to force the issue a bit, too, instead of just playing it off on her being 3.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 8:40 AM on Oct. 15, 2009

  • Pick your battles. Is this fight worth fighting now? Be happy if they are learning to express themselves. Think about it, how long would it take you to learn to speak a whole new language in addition to having the muscles forming and strengthening in your mouth. Your cognitive development or thought process is growing and you are learning about the world around you. Throw in some stress of potty training and gross/fine motor development and your social skills are being worked on. Sounds like a battle that isn't necessary at this point. If you really feel the need to point it out, when the child asks a question, restate it to them if you have to, but beware of their fragile self esteem.

    Answer by Lifes-A-Dance at 11:57 AM on Oct. 15, 2009

  • my 4 yr old still struggles with word order in questions he will say - i can have candy? and we always correct him --- say--- can i have candy? he doesnt get the whole put the verb in front of the subject yet but at least he is asking instead of not talking...

    Answer by AmaliaD at 12:25 PM on Oct. 15, 2009

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