Why Do Kids Ask Why?
“Why is it raining?”
“Why is the garbage truck here?”
“Why is there only one sun?”
“Why is that a construction site?”
“Why can’t I see my eyes?”*
If you have a 3- or 4-year old, these questions probably look very familiar. Veerrrry familiar. Kids this age ask a lot of questions, which can be funny, interesting and, admittedly, incredibly irritating. So, we wondered: why do kids ask so many questions? Why?! Here’s what we found.
Their Language is Developing
Most kids begin talking between 18-24 months (though, of course, this varies). By 2, most kids have a vocabulary of 25-50 words. Between the age of 3-4, a child’s vocabulary expands to 250-500 words. That’s an incredible jump in language!
Asking questions is how we learn — and toddlers ask questions to understand all these new words they’re learning. Plus, when you explain the answer to one “why” question, you’re likely using lots of new words in your answer. Thus, opening the door for more questions!
A preschooler is much more engaged with their environment than a toddler. Remembering events, telling stories, and understanding concepts such as same/different and yesterday/today are all big milestones your child is hitting. With this new found sense of understanding comes a natural curiosity about, well, everything.
They’re Questioning Your Authority
Sometimes, kids ask “why” when they’re wondering “why” a parent is saying what they’re saying. For example, when you say, “We’re going home now,” and your child responds “Why?” — they really mean “Why do we have to go now? I’m having fun right now. I don’t want to go home.”
They Love Having Your Attention!
Kids are smart. Like, scary smart. They know how to get your attention — whether it’s positive or negative. Asking questions gets them your full attention — and they love that!
What To Do After You’ve Responded to the First 1,234 Questions
It’s easy to get frustrated by your kid’s questions. When you’ve answered a million questions and they just.keep.coming, you have a few options:
- Calmly tell your child that you’ll answer later. Write down the questions on a sticky note and put it on the fridge, as a visual reminder to your child that you haven’t forgotten about their questions (even though, your tot might have moved on to a million new questions, five minutes later).
- Explain that you don’t know, but “why don’t we figure out together.” This response validates your child’s curiosity, teaches problem-solving skills and gives her the attention she’s craving. So, grab your kid, the computer, and search for the answer — together.
- There are also some great reference books for kids aimed at answering “why” questions. Even if your tot can’t read yet, encourage them to grab a book and look through the pages.
Remember — your child is not (actively) trying to drive you insane! The world’s a complicated place, and kids are trying to figure it out.
And, really: why can’t we see our eyes? It’s a legitimate question.
*Actual questions asked by my 4 year old!
Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, PBS.org.
Tags: 18 month old, 2 year old, 3 year old, 4 year old, children, development, four year old, helpful mom resources, kid's, language, language development, learning, milestones, mom tips, Mommy, mommy tips, parenting, preschooler, preschoolers, reading, three year old, toddlers, two year old, words
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