Questions, questions, questions. Some of them are so ridiculous that you wonder what on earth is going on in your child's brain. What's up with this? Some mothers report that the constant questions are, at times, a trigger for impatience or even annoyance. If you'll give me a minute, I will help you see your child's point of view. Be encouraged!
One of my many precious friends with young children said the other day that her child asked , "What if our house was a rubber chicken?". This comment, which she shared on social media, attracted a lot of responses from her fellow Mamas In The Trenches. Many of them indicated that the incessant questions from the littles was challenging. Sometimes downright irritating. I can understand that. Ongoing chatter can be exhausting.
Let's get right down to some of the reasons for this common behavior. Children's brains are hard wired to learn more during the early years of life than at any other time. Researchers agree that 85% of core brain development takes place before the age of five. That makes these early years vital. It also means that children are compelled to learn. They are learning from their environment every waking moment, and one of the best tools they have is their ability to ask questions. So they do. So. Many. Questions.
I have always had a personal theory that God has our children ask questions so that we will remember to teach them. As well adapted adults, we don't have to wonder about the world around us because we have lived five or six times as many years as our five year old. To an adult, many of the questions, ("why does the water go down the drain?" "What happens when I get a hair cut?") seem too simple to even require an answer. Your child is counting on you to help them understand their world. Questions help this. Without the questions we might not explain what they need to know. We forget. Our children remind us. Thank God.
But what about those questions that seem to have ulterior motives? Does your child really want to know what would happen if your house was a rubber chicken? Or is there something else they are wanting to know...Hmmm.
Children are complex humans. Just like adults. They have needs that are deeply imbedded in their earliest years. Just like adults. Children need to know that they belong to and are loved by their community. Just like adults. Children, however, are especially vulnerable and dependent. They are fragile in every way. They need you in ways that they will never need anyone else. Their relationship with you will impact every relationship they ever have. So, some of their questions, it stands to reason, have meaning beyond wanting facts.
When your children ask bizarre questions, and your motherly instinct kicks in and tells you, "She doesn't care if our house is a rubber chicken. She's just trying to annoy me. And it is working." Try in those moments to take a breath, count to three, and realize that there is something more, something deeper going on. Your child may be asking something very different than the composition of your family home.
What can you do to understand and, more importantly, cope lovingly with the continuing questions that stream from the mind of your little ones? How can you deal with them, keep your sanity, and remain aware that your child may be asking you something very different than it seems? I have a few hints that I hope will help you. Bear these things in mind as you love and nurture your inquisitive child.
Your child may need reassurance. Do I matter? Are you listening? Do you hear me? Am I important enough to warrant your patience, good humor, and grace? Is there a question I can ask that will push you away? Do you love me. really? Really? Do you love me enough to answer this question? Or this one? I need to know you love me.
Could your impatience be born of your own introversion or exhaustion? Parents have their own baggage. Often we don't think of our own personalities or emotional tolerances when we are in the throes of having children. We think of the process as natural and one that most women manage to cope with. Some people are born with intense introverted tendencies that make it hard to spend a great deal of time with others even if it is their own child. The noise, the demands, the mental and emotional labor make children harder for some to cope with. Try to become aware of these feelings while still meeting the needs of your children. Pray for strength. Look at your child and notice how they need you. Meet them there. You can do this.
Could it be that your child needs more input from you? What if their questions are really just a cry to hear the sound of your voice? Perhaps they need more conversation, more connection, more attention. Some children have deeper needs for these things than others. Insecurity or problems relating to their peers in school can drive them to seek your attention more than normal. Try simply meeting this need with humor and kindness and a bright, open spirit. Ask your own silly questions: "What if our house was a mushroom?" "What if our mushroom was a house?" Engage in fun conversation with your children. Lighten the mood. Enjoy your little ones every time you get a chance. The challenges are there. Do what you can to make the good times memorable by putting yourself in the middle of them.
Children who seek attention in this manner are saying that they need attention. And that is absolutely okay. Children, like adults, need what they need. When you ignore their attention seeking behavior you are actually making the problem worse. Responding to the many questions your child asks lets them know that you are tuned in to their emotional and mental needs. The exhaustion you face from endless questions could keep you from experiencing silence and non responsiveness at that time of life when they need you more than ever. Little ones that are heard become teens that communicate.
So what if our house was a rubber chicken? My top three answers would be: 1. It would smell funny. 2. We could stretch it and make it bigger. 3. Everyone would know where we live. What could you say to this question? What is the craziest question your children have asked you? Share with the community!