Best approaches to answering a young kid's million questions?

  1. I think this is pretty difficult to answer without knowing the age of the child in question because you’re going to tailor it to their level of understanding. But in general we aim for option 3 with our kid—an age appropriate answer of the truth. As he gets older (he’s only 2) we’ll give more details. I think “how do you think it works?” is also excellent for older kids who may have the capacity to use critical thinking.

  2. This is what we do. Children pick up on all kinds of cues, and if they learn you lie to them, they will learn not to trust the things you say. When you eventually tell them something important ("that boy/girl isn't good for you to hang around," "you shouldn't eat too much ___ because it will make you sick," etc.) they will be less likely to listen to you.

  3. A mixture of 3 and 4 imo. I don't like the idea of lying to kids, even if it's in fun. Easy explanations and experiments teach practical skills and should reinforce the idea in their mind that you'll always be honest with them.

  4. I teach high school, so very different, but I use 2, 3, or 4 depending on the amount of time we have to cover stuff. I think it’ll just depend on where you are and what you’re doing when the questions come up.

  5. It depends on the age and why they are asking why. When they are really young and ask why it is bascially their little way of telling you they want to learn more. Asking "why?" is a simple way of saying, "You are saying some really interesting stuff and I want you to continue talking about this topic."

  6. I really like this rationale (and I love your kid who’s like, just a basic overview is fine thanks 😂) My son is not quite two yet, and isn’t asking many questions therefore, but we already try to give proper explanations for why something isn’t allowed (eg rather than “don’t do that” we say “doing that will cause this undesirable consequence and that would be bad because of these reasons”), because we find he responds so much better when we give him a reason for why things work that way or why we are saying something. I can definitely see him being like your daughter in the future and wanting to understand why things work the way they do, rather than just accepting “just because, that’s why”, and honestly, I would love to nurture that natural inquisitiveness and critical thinking in him.

  7. We are in this phase right now with our 2.5 year old. She asks “what was that?” a lot when she hears pretty much any sound, and it gets very repetitive. It would be really simple for us to just respond with the answer. But we don’t.

  8. Sometimes when children are asking the "why"s, they're not really after the answer but trying to make conversation with their still limited social skills. Then concentrating on the answer will not fill their needs at all. Likewise when they really want your attention and engagement. You'll probably notice then that they don't really care about the actual why.

  9. "Bread is bread because we needed a way to ask for 'that yummy food made with wheat and water in the oven,' so they picked the name bread." Or is that not what they're really asking?

  10. We went with a combination of "all of the above" depending on what the question was and how silly/educational we are feeling at the time. My now 11 year old knew that the moon rotated around the Earth and how all that worked, but she also had stories about flying balloons to the moon, and SuperPuppy and his agoraphobic little sister Rainbow Puppy who lived there.

  11. All of the above depending on the scenario: the specific question, why they're asking, how busy you are, your emotional capacity...

  12. I found saying "Hmm, I wonder why?" puts it back to the child to come up with an answer for those questions that you don't have an answer to other than it just is. It had worked well for me when working with preschoolers.

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