Kids are curious little beings, which is part of what makes them wonderful. They are experiencing so much in the world for the first time and much of it — from the colour of the sky to the existence of fingernails — is utterly baffling to them. A little kid’s inquiring mind wants to know: Why? Why, why, why, why, why?
Young children are notorious for asking this question ad nauseam. You want to encourage their curiosity, of course — but sometimes, after the sixth or seventh, “But, why?,” you’re simply out of answers. Maybe they just want to converse with you and this is how they’re keeping the conversation going, or maybe they’re not quite sure how to ask the question they really want the answer to. Either way, as one parent suggests on Reddit (and the Daily Star dug up for us), it’s time to turn the question back on them.
My youngest (4) got into the “why” phase a little while back. Read an article that said the best way to get them to stop was to ask them, “I’m not sure, what do you think?” It is a godsend. They answer their own question, you provide some feedback, “Sounds good to me,” and they immediately move on. Fucking awesome.
That is fucking awesome. Not only does it let you, the parent, off the hook when you don’t know the answer or your brain simply can’t conjure one up — it also lets them practice thinking critically without you brushing them off. (If they don’t have a theory, you can offer to look it up together.)
Naturally, other Redditors had other ideas and advice to share to curb the excessive whys:
- “I’ve started making my four-year-old ask the whole question, so now he has to ask, ‘why is the sky blue?’ rather than just, ‘why?’ It makes him pause and think, engages him in the conversation more and breaks us out of that constant why-why-why-why…. loop.” (u/capnchristof)
- “My friend responded to her toddler’s seventh question in an extreme ‘but why’ chain with ‘well, why not?’ in a really happy voice. Her son looked completely mind blown and stopped asking.” (u/Nincomsoup)
- “I don’t mind answering the honest questions, and this is a great response.
Different were the endless ‘whys’ after an unliked decision (Time to leave in ten minutes — why? We need to let Granma and Grandad go to sleep — why? They’re tired after playing with you all afternoon — why?) and at that point I used the Miss Manners response, ‘I do not care to discuss it.’ Rinse and repeat until it stops.” (u/Astyryx)
- “Long scientific explanations work really well, too. This method has a 100% success rate with my three-year-old daughter.” (u/Alkakfnxcpoem)
And yes, you could also just answer the question; that’s an acceptable response, too.