Answering tough questions posed by children can be one of the more challenging – and rewarding – aspects of parenthood. Taking time to answer your child's questions thoughtfully and with honesty can strengthen the bonds between parent and child and keep them coming to you for advice as they reach the teen years and beyond. Here are a few suggestions for fielding unexpected and sometimes difficult queries.
Take Take children's questions seriously . Kid's questions can range from the silly: "Do frogs have brothers, too?" to the profound: "What happens after we die?" While the nature of the question will impact the quality and depth of your response, treating all of your child's questions with respect teaches an important lesson. Children learn that it's okay to be curious, to ask questions and to seek more information. This knowledge will serve them well in academic life as they develop the skills to be fearless, questioning learners.
Choose the right words . Consider the age and emotional development of your children when framing answers to their questions. The same question asked by a 3-year-old and a 13-year-old will require answers of differing complexity. Use language your child is likely to understand. If necessary, ask for a reprieve and promise you'll have the answer after you think about it. Then follow through. Some children will cheerfully accept a simple explanation. For others, answering one question only leads to more questions. Be prepared.
· Don't be afraid to say you don't know . Whether the question is regarding the inner workings of the solar system or the example posed above about what happens after death, don't worry about exposing the limits of your intelligence. Perhaps you have a belief system to address some of these questions. If not, try answering an older child's existential questions with another question. Say, "I'm not sure. What do you think?" This can spur a lively discussion and give you a glimpse into the workings of your child's creative, thinking mind. If the question is simply outside your scope of knowledge, say, "I don't know. Let's find out." Encourage independent learning by helping your children use the library or the Internet to seek their own answers.
Children come into the world ready to discover and explore. As they learn and grow, they will naturally begin to question the nature of the world and their place in it. Nurture their innate curiosity by answering their questions honestly and encourage them to grow into freethinking, intelligent adults.
2011 Moira G Gallaga ©