17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Why? Because I Said So--or The Beating Down of My Child's Curiousity

If you have ever had a three year old, then I think you know what I am talking about. We are so deep into the "Why?" phase I can't see the beginning and I definitely don't see the end.

Before I had kids (famous last words), I told myself I would be a parent who encouraged my child's curiosity. I would respond to every question with a mind expanding, complete answer. Every experience would be a learning experience! That was all before I knew how the never-ending "Whys?" would literally drive me CRAZY!

Princess will ask "Why?" to pretty much anything. Even if I include a full explanation before the "Why?" comes, she will still ask "Why?". I can't even do something nice for her without being attacked with the "Whys?".

Mom: Here, have a cookie.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because you ate all your lunch.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because that is what you get when you eat all your lunch.
Princess: Why?
Mom: Because I am a nice mom.
Princess: Why?
Mom: (here is where I give up and there is noticeable annoyance in my voice and a slight crazed look in my eye)
Just because! Now take the cookie and run before I change my mind!

So, my answers pretty much have come down to these:
1. "I don't know" (I do try to save this one for times when I really don't know).
2. "Because"
3. "Just because"
4. "Because I said so"
5. "No more questions for today" (this is the last resort but I find myself saying it more and more frequently and earlier and earlier in the day).

I really hate all of my options and I hate feeling like I am squashing my child's curiosity. I want her to ask questions. Just not so many! What can I do? (I would also appreciate any ideas for variations on the above 5 answers so if all the advice doesn't work, I could at least change my routine answers up a bit)

**Now, if your child never went through this phase, I seriously don't want to hear about it. Nor do I want to hear any advice from you. I don't need speculation or the inference that some parenting technique allowed you to never enter this phase. I don't believe it. You just get to read this and thank your lucky stars for your angel child who never drives you crazy (at least not with the "whys".


  • Turn the questions around and ask her why *she* thinks things are the way they are, or whatever it is she's asking. It keeps her mind growing and can lead to some nice convesations. Also this takes the burden off you to some degree--just be sure to listen and guide her reasoning when she goes far astray.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/07/2006 09:32:00 AM  

  • yeah, I always respond with the "why do you think so?"
    posted by Blogger AFM at 3/07/2006 12:11:00 PM  

  • I have a sister in law who turns questions back on her kids too. Sometimes she asks, why they think so, and other times she asks "why do you want to know" (or "what do you want to know.")
    My parents told me that in that stage they aren't really curious. If they ask why more than twice they are normally just trying to see how long they can keep you talking.
    Good luck with that though! :)
    posted by Blogger Starfoxy at 3/07/2006 12:39:00 PM  

  • The turn-around is good, but I like "Ask your Dad"!
    posted by Blogger Tracy M at 3/07/2006 05:06:00 PM  

  • This happens at my house, too, and I was going berzerk. Now I ask him, "Why?" Sometimes he then asks, "Do you know why?" at which point I know he is really curious and I try to answer (or send him to DH, who loves to encourage his curiousity). Sometimes my son gives his own answer. Sometimes he just says, "Because." I guess he's heard that one from me.
    posted by Blogger Mrs. M at 3/07/2006 07:08:00 PM  

  • I had my I'll go crazy moments with my son too. You can try "let's save that question for later" or "lets ask questions later". I also tried questioning HIM, which worked sometimes. Maybe you could say "Hmm, that's interesting. I'll think about that one." Or just for "fun" give some random answer--like "because 5 x 4 can't equal 16 peanuts sinking". Maybe she'll just stop because you're so weird. Also, don't feel too bad about squashing curiousity because you KNOW some of the questions are just for nothing. Perhaps purely the habit of asking "why."
    posted by Blogger Katie at 3/07/2006 07:20:00 PM  

  • Pukasaur likes to ask what or why to things she already knows the answer too, so I like Katie make something up when I know she knows. I actually did this with your DD too Carrie, and found that it least got them to say out loud what the REAL answer was and a giggle too. EG. What are you doing in the kitchen? ME: Taking a shower.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/08/2006 04:37:00 AM  

  • I have days like this with my 3 year old son. Most of the time I like answering his questions because MOST of the time he is genuinely trying to understand and figure things out. But once I hit my limit (usually 7 statements followed by "but why?") I say, "Well, why do you think so?". That usually turns the tide or he just gives up.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 3/08/2006 09:53:00 AM  

  • At the peak of the "why" phase I finally realized that my son was developing his communication skills using "why." So, I introduced him to the sentence (and it worked). My husband works long hours, so he doesn't get to interact with the kids as much. For really big "why's" we would save them for Daddy and write them down on a list. My husband would love to hear all questions when he came home and it made for great discussions.
    posted by Blogger Tri Mama at 3/08/2006 02:27:00 PM  

  • I agree with the "why do you think so" answer. This has been magical for me. The whole why thing drives me batty and it's sort of fun to hear what they think the reason is.
    posted by Blogger The Daring One at 3/11/2006 10:02:00 PM  

  • Thanks everyone for your comments.

    To basically everyone- I tried the "why do you thnk so" technique back at the beginning of the "why" phase and it totally didn't work. Somehow she would always twist it back to me and it made the whole situation worse because the questions became so twisted that I couldn't answer it even if I wanted to! I think this happened for the same reason starfoxy's parents explained: She just wanted to see how long she could keep me talking.

    But I tried the technique again because of all you advice, and you know what? It worked this time! Yipee! I can see the light!

    Katie - I LOVE your strategy, but I just dont think I am quick enough on my feet to come up with funny answers. My brain just doesn't work that way. Wish it did though. Kage is also really good at it.

    cc - I also really like your idea. DH is not home a lot, so I think he might like answering some of the tougher questions that we compile throughout the day.

    Thanks again everyone!
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/12/2006 08:16:00 AM  

  • How about the "What? What? What?" comments? Those ones drive me about as batty as the "Why's!" Finally, I am resorting to saying, "I KNOW YOU HEAR ME... stop saying WHAT?!?!" Funny girl, she is!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 3/12/2006 07:19:00 PM  

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