NDSU Extension - Sargent County


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Fielding “But why” Questions from our Kids

Fielding “But why” Questions from our Kids  11/8/19


If you are a parent, it’s pretty likely you’ve heard questions from your kiddos that start with phrases like these: 

  • “But why can’t I….”
  • “But why do I have to…”
  • “But why won’t you…”

And does the questions ever go on and on and on?  And are they ever stated with a whining tone? 

What do you think is happening?  Some kids use this whining technique with the hope that their parents will give them what they want.

Here are some things to ask yourself or do anytime you hear “but why” questions from your child: 

  • Is this genuine curiosity, or is it just whining? If your child really wants to learn about something, answering his/her "but why?" question can start a fun conversation. But if the child is whining and complaining, parents don't need to provide a lengthy explanation for setting a limit.
  • Is this something my child could or should think about for themselves?   Rather than trying to reason and offer an explanation or two or three for why you’ve set a limit, try responding to “but why?” questions by saying, “What do you think?” in a sincerely curious, interested, non-sarcastic way.  This creates a pause.  Creating a pause is beneficial because a child's brain development is enhanced if he or she has to spend time thinking about the answer, rather than immediately receiving it from the parent.
  • Offer empathy to your child.  Express your sincere sadness and understanding when your child is struggling to accept the reasonable limit you’ve set. 

Adapted from:  Love & Logic Insider’s Club, 10-30.19.

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/illustrations/question-mark-perplexity-at-a-loss-1119854/ (downloaded 11/13/19)


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