Anyone who has children in their life knows they have an infinitely curious mind and will ask all sorts of questions to learn more about the world around them. These questions come at all times of the day; breakfast, to and from school, in the classroom and before they go to bed, and can be silly or serious. The questions can range from all kinds of topics, and you never know when to expect them. When it is a fact-based query, there is usually an easy answer which can be looked up if you don’t know the response off the top of your head. However, for those questions which are a little more philosophical and personal, you may have to stop and think before answering to avoid confusing them even more.
Don’t Rush to Answer
If a child poses a serious question, such as one about an ill or deceased relative, don’t rush to answer or dismiss it. Ask for more details, so you can properly understand what they are asking, and take time to choose your words carefully. Giving a quick answer can leave them even more confused, and when it is serious, you need to consider their feelings about what they are asking too. It could be an upsetting question to them, so brushing it off can make a situation worse. You could say, “Let me think about that for a little while and then we can talk about it again.”
Keep it Simple
The questions “why is the sky blue?” or “how are babies made?” can be a bit complicated to explain to a young child, and could easily lead to more complicated questions you need to look up. Keeping answers to difficult questions simple is the best rule of thumb as over-explaining is confusing, and a simple answer is likely to keep your child or pupil happier for longer. Wait until they are older and able to understand fully, to provide longer answers.
Suggest Researching it Together
For more complex questions, such as those about news events, science or history, suggest looking it up together, and don’t be afraid of saying you don’t know. Saying a question is a big one that needs a bit more thinking means you won’t respond with something incorrect you may regret later. Going home and opening an encyclopaedia or searching Google together shows your child it is okay to always be educating yourself, and that knowledge is important and exciting.
Ask Them What They Think
Questions that revolve around Santa and the Tooth Fairy are always ones to give a second thought to before answering. If the question is about if they are real, it could mean other children are saying Santa and the Tooth Fairy are not real and either want to believe them or don’t. Asking what they think about it can help determine how you answer.
Let Other Parents, Guardians or Teachers Know
If your child has been asking more questions recently about a certain topic, such as sexuality, gender or relationships, it is important to let other adults who care for them know. Your spouse, co-parent or family member may have given a different answer to the question, and different answers can lead to conflict and confusion in the child. Making sure everyone is on the same page provides a reliable response so the child will not get confused, and reassure them that no question is bad, particularly at a young age.
At Recreation Road, we work hard to make sure there is room for our pupils’ curiosity and we’d love to know how you have handled some of the big questions your children have asked you. But do come and see us if you need some more specific advice.