The “Why” Phase of Parenting


Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? Why do birds fly? And why don’t dogs? These are probably the questions every parent has heard at least once – and every prospective parent can expect to hear at one time or another. When the “why” stage comes, the curiosity of the little ones overflows – the result is a myriad of questions bombarding moms, dads, grandparents, and everything else.

Curiosity is healthy and desirable in the “why” stage – this doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Especially if your little one is of the curious type that bombards you with dozens, maybe hundreds of questions every day. Between solving the mystery of the bagel hole and diving deep into the biology of photosynthesis, let’s take a better look at what the “why” phase actually is.

The next level

The “why” phase represents the transition of the little ones’ brain from “observational” to “analytical”.

Basically, after absorbing all the impressions, shapes, smells, and colors, after learning the words and associating them with the things they represent, and start to observe the relationships and workings of these things.

Developmental psychologist Erik Erikson divided the “why” phase into two distinct stages: “Autonomy vs. Shame/Doubt” and “Initiative vs. Guilt”, During these stages of their development, children learn about the world around them, they develop their first interests, their sense of autonomy, their basic skills, and their sense of autonomy.

Parents need to encourage them to discover the world and themselves without becoming too demanding and without losing their temper too often. But this can be harder than many of us think – especially at the 10th, 20th, 60th question of the day.

Handling it

The curiosity of a child has no limits.

And it shouldn’t either – asking questions is their way of discovering the secrets of the world around them. But this puts the parents’ self-control to a serious test – especially when a simple, informative, and exhaustive answer is followed by an inevitable “why”. If the parents look frustrated, annoyed, even angered by the inevitable string of questions will lead to the child shutting down – this will inevitably worsen the relationship.

It’s not easy to navigate through the “why” phase and keep your sanity. The first thing you need to know is that it’s not an interrogation but a conversation – those endless questions mean that your kid is interested in the topic.

Instead of simply answering the question, you can use it as a starting point to a more exhaustive explanation about the topic.

For example, from “why is the sky blue” you can go through what the Sun is, what light is, and how it paints the sky in blue every single day (without the physics, of course).

And if the question refers to something you don’t know about – there’s no shame in that – you can even turn to technology: Google it together. While being an all-knowing dad is an amazing feeling, teaching your kids how to find information on their own is way more useful for their future.

And don’t worry – like all other phases, this too will pass.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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