• Paul Wade

Why, Why Why - how to deal with endless questions.

This is our first 'by request' HHLH and we are doing....

So your little darlings are always full of questions. Often starting with WHY.


"Why are we going to the shops?"

"Why do I have to go to bed now?

"Why do dogs go bark but cats go purr?"

"Why did you just say 'please stop asking questions'?"


You know how it is. Now add an extra 6-7 hours per day for 5 days per week during school closures and you may well need to quarantine yourself for another month once this is all over.

So how do you deal with all that why? Well, first up, how not to deal with it. Saying "just because" or "its very complicated" will only heighten their interest. And just ignoring them may well result in levels of questioning that are beyond belief. You are going to have to engage for the sake of your own well being in the long term and for theirs.


First up - single word answers won't cut it. You need detail. The more the better. If they ask "Why is the sun up in the sky?", you can't go wrong with a full explanation of the cosmos and the workings of gravity and solar radiation. They will love it and they will almost certainly say "oh" when you finish and walk away. If you get the detail level right, they may even get bored and wander off mid sentence (just kidding - mostly). Don't worry about the content being too detailed for them. It will end up being part of their general knowledge in the future and may well spark enthusiasm for a future learning passion. (For an example of this technique in action, listen to Act 1 in this episode of podcast This American Life.)


If you are not feeling like talking for an hour, or just don't know quite enough to go the distance - aim for research. It is OK to say "I don't know", as long as you follow it up with agreeing to search for the answer with them or getting them to try to find out. Remember to ask them to come up with as much detail as you use in your own answers and they should be busy for a while.


You can also try asking them why they think something is happening. Turn it into a genuine conversation, rather than a monologue. Often, unsurprisingly, they just want to talk to you. They love you and love to interact with you. They will often go off on fascinating tangents, but at least they won't ask 'why' for a while - probably.


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