Do your kids ever ask questions that puzzle you? Not because you don’t know the answer, but because you are not sure of the answer to give them.
I know of a father whose girl asked such a question. They went out one Saturday morning for doughnuts and his little girl chose the one with chocolate frosting and colored sprinkles. As she ate the doughnut she asked, “Daddy, why does this doughnut have chocolate on it?”
This father was unsure of the response to give her. He could have said, “because the person who made the doughnut put chocolate on it” or, “because you ordered one with chocolate.” Then he remembered that if he does the thinking for his little girl then it robs her of the opportunity to think on her own. So he said, “that’s a good question sweetheart, why do you think it has chocolate on it.”
She sat there for a minute and thought. Then she said, “I know why it has chocolate on it. So the sprinkles will stick.”
What a smart little girl and what a wise father. By giving his little girl the opportunity to think of the answer herself, he sent the message “you are capable of figuring this out on your own.”
When young kids begin to ask “why” to most everything, wise parents will send the question back to their kids by saying things like, “why do you suppose…, that’s a good question, why do you think…, that’s something to think about, what are your thoughts about it? This technique gives kids the gift of learning to think on their own and it helps parents avoid the trap of answering one “why” question after another, after another, after another.
Shiloh Lundahl, LCSW, is a child and family therapist in Gilbert and Mesa, Arizona. He is the founder of Parent Arizona and Counseling Services and is part of the Arizona Family Institute.
He provides parenting classes using the Love and Logic curriculum, classes for parents of children with ADHD, step-parenting classes, and advanced trainings for foster and adoptive parents. He also provides in-home therapy in Gilbert, Mesa, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Chandler, and Tempe, Arizona.