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How many times can my four-year old ask “why?”

Updated on April 17, 2014

Let him figure something out on his own

A great way that my husband found was to ask him why he thinks it is that way. That puts the ball in his court, and distinguishes between the times he is really looking for an answer and those where he is looking to drive us nuts. I love helping him understand something, but don’t love being driven nuts! This trick seems to work well for ending they cycle, and I have found when I do this it makes him think for himself. I have been at work when there is someone who always asks me the answer, instead of looking for it on her own. I do not want to raise a person who does this, so I feel it is important for him to strategize, and find some answers on his own.

There are certain topics this doesn’t work well with, so it needs to be age appropriate. Here are some examples of questions I let him struggle to figure out: 1. If red means stop, why did I stop at the stoplight? 2. If I say not to touch the stove while I am cooking, why is it a good idea to listen? Making the opportunities for him to learn age appropriate is the key. By contrast, here would be times I would help guide, or just answer the question for him: 1. Why did Jesus die on the cross? 2. Why do you still love me if I am in trouble?

Why does he keep asking "why?"

There is a very cute commercial that shows a young boy, who keeps asking a man, “why.” At the end, with the last “why,” the man tells the boy he should ask his father. This always made me laugh to watch, since I have a four-year old. For the last year, I have heard that word more times than I can count. When my husband and I are together we glance at each other and laugh. Sometimes we let the other struggle, just to see who can answer the most “why’s,” while other times we jump in when we see the other is lost for an answer. There are times when I know my son has caught on to the fact that we are getting frustrated, so he will ask, “why, why, why?”

These are the times that make us start to think he is becoming smarter than us. I remember helping in a classroom and thinking that I wanted the younger kids because I still had one up on them. It does not take long for them to figure out how you work, and how they can win! I think it is healthy for him to ask us questions and love when he really does want to learn about something new. I can see on his face when he understands my explanation, and I definitely see it when he doesn’t. Usually, when he doesn’t there is another “why” to follow. How do we end they cycle?

When to help him get the answer

When I know he can go down a path I do not want him to go, I will either answer the question, or guide him toward the answer I think is best. Giving your child a chance to fail, or have the wrong answer is important to their development. I know there are many times in life I have failed, but because I knew my parents would always love me, it made it easier to get back up after the failure. This is what I want for my child, and letting them get the wrong answer is sometimes the best solution. If he gets the wrong answer for himself, in a safe way, then we can talk about why it didn’t work that way, or what another reason, or way would be.

Letting him figure things out on his own will not only help him to problem solve, but also help him be creative. In live there are many times, either at work, or at home when we need to find a reason for something. We also may need to find a solution to a problem. I find that if I know why something is happening, it is easier for me to find a solution to make it better. There are many times I may not know as detailed of a reason as my son is looking for in a topic. In this case, it is all right to admit that I don’t know the reason why. What I do when this happens is I say something like, “that is a great question, lets find out the answer together.” Then we research it, or as a wiser person than me. This can be part of the fun in spending time doing something positive with him, but also shows him we don’t know it all, which will also help him later in life. This shows him no one usually has it together, or has the right answer all the time.

Why, Why, Why?

Don't let yourself become frustrated with all the questions.
Don't let yourself become frustrated with all the questions.


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