Why is the sky blue? Why doesn’t the doggy wear a diaper? Why do we do potty? Where does the water in the washbasin go? And the most famous one – Are we there yet? Thankfully babyT is still a little too young to ask that last question. But hey, did you even attempt to mentally answer these questions? Did you seek the right answers full of logic? Then you are wrong my dear friend! Parenting is all about finding innovative answers to the many questions your children will ask you, because the same questions will be asked to you a million times over. Sadly most parents lose their nerve when their children ask them questions. Half hearted attempts to answer turn to frustration and soon enough the child learns to not ask, not learn and not be curious. You see asking questions is a very healthy habit and you, the parent must encourage it. It’s not just learning the facts and information, it is a lot more than that.
How we were raised
When we were kids some of the questions we asked got the answer, “Don’t ask questions, that’s just the way it is.” This aimed to shut us up for all further questions.
This was especially true when we asked questions about God or religion. We were expected to follow blindly and not think about what we were told to do. Truth is our own parents had no answers for them, because they too were expected to follow blindly.
Not my mom though, she attempted to answer my questions about why the Gayatri Mantra was enchanted, why OM was an all powerful sound (enough research abounds on this), why women wore toe rings and bindis after marriage (fertility, in case you were wondering.) This helped me value and appreciate the goodness of the holy texts and manmade practices.
Children of today
Children are born in a generation where information is available and they refer to it constantly when they want to understand things. And I personally think society is all the more richer for it. There is faith but not blind belief. There is ritual but no myths. There is the freedom to choose one’s opinions and views and even religion or the absence of it.
The roots of this begin in childhood when toddlers and children start asking the Why’s, Where’s, What’s and How’s. According to a research, toddlers ask on average of 200 questions per day.
Most children start asking the question What around the time they are 18 months old. They may not speak whole sentences but will manage to ask, in their baby babble, what something is. This is them making sense of the world around them and learning the names of the various objects.
Then comes the Where questions. Around the time toddlers are 2.5 to 3 years old they start asking for where something or someone is. In their brains space, geography, distances are all coming to play. And then around 3 years of age is when they start asking the more complex questions of Why and How and Who.
Why questioning is good for the brain
As children grow they are filling their brain with sense, information and knowledge. They are building facts and data. They are also learning cause and effect and the learning gets inscribed. The left part of their brain which stands for logic, language, numbers, writing skills all gets developed.
Together with the elements of the right brain – creativity, intuition, imagination and thought, the knowledge and information works to make an individual who is capable of thinking. Children learn to draw inferences, conclusions and have opinions about things.
So asking questions is crucial to build up that knowledge base. But answering the same question for the zillionth time can be painful.
Yes it is. Understand that most of the times children are not looking for the right answers. Most often they are looking to engage with another person in their environment. And an adult who is most often around the children will be able to reference the response in context to the current environment or experience of the child.
More than just knowledge building
Asking questions and receiving responses also build a great deal of trust and comfort between the child and the parent/ caregiver (teachers, daycare managers) Children who feel comfortable and at ease of asking questions will come to you as teens and adults too. They will confide and seek your opinion and advice. Whether they follow it or not is their call of course.
If you don’t have the answers to something your child asks you or they don’t seem to be satisfied with the answer you’ve provided, don’t discourage them. But tell them you will look for the answer and tell them later. You could even suggest a person who would be better able to answer that question for you. Children will happily look forward to the trip to the library or meet the person who can answer them. But do follow through on this. There’s nothing more disappointing for a child than a promise not kept.
Parents can also use their children’s questions to get them to think and use their brain power. Next time a child asks you a question, answer them with a question, “Why do you think this is..” or “How do you think this works?” or “Where do you think the water goes?” This not only gives you a break from answering their questions (which have no answers) but also gets their brain cells working a bit. You also get a fantastic insight into the way their little brain functions.
This blog post is part of a series for the #AtoZBloggingChallenge where my theme is
New Age Parenting: Parenting in 201x.
Read my theme reveal post here.
To read all the posts for the #AtoZChallenge go here – #AtoZ2018
You may also enjoy reading up about the Whole Brain Child in this post.