Why Talking to Children is Art, or How to Manage Those Why’s

Children love to bombard their parents with questions – just as much as they love to misbehave. It is natural for them to do so, since they have so much to learn about the world they now live in, but the abundance of questions can drive parents crazy. What can one do about the flow of questions? And are long lectures an effective way of parenting?

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Why does a giraffe have such a long neck? Why is the sky blue? And why on earth cannot I have another cookie before dinner?!

All these questions are undoubtedly important, since a child is eager to learn – which is perfectly natural and a good sign. By explaining them why a particular household rule should be abode by, you sow the seeds of a conscious perception of the world. It goes without saying that explanations are a much better way of answering a child’s question than cutting them short and ending the conversation they need so badly with a brusque “Because”.

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Promote reasoning

If your child cannot help asking you for hours on end, you can try the following strategy. When he or she asks you something, try to encourage them to figure it out themselves – with your help, of course. Leaving them alone with a “go do it yourself or find a toy to play with” is liable to result in a psychological trauma. Not all kids agree to talk about it, even when they become grown-ups, but parents’ failure to create an ambience of friendliness and always being there to help affects the child’s personality and increases the risk of psychological problems, including reactive attachment disorder.

Instead, when confronted with a question, suggest thinking about it thoroughly, guessing and finding an answer to it by giving extra information. This way, the child will be able to piece it together and find the answer themselves, without being dismissed as annoying. Make sure you are always there to help your child, since such stimulation of reasoning and development of logic skills requires your supervision. Playing with kids and encouraging them to do things that they may be slightly afraid of by showing them they are not dangerous (like showing them how to ski before they actually do it) may also reduce the risk of anxiety in children. Ensure safety and be there to help, though – the message is not to push their limits carelessly but to help the child overcome their fear of normal things and explore the world.

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This approach may seem to be much more time-monopolizing, but it will benefit both you and your child in the long run: the child will learn how to make conclusions, and you will have fewer questions to give ready-made answers to.

Away with those long lectures?

When children misbehave, parents tend to burst into long lectures. Sometimes they may be useful, but being verbose and pressing may well lead to an effect opposite to the one you are expecting it to have. Continuous nagging is not an effective way of making your child behave, especially if they do not respond to reprimands well.

Try to introduce some creativity in your parenting strategy. The next time you see toys scattered all over the floor, do not let your emotions cloud your mind (‘I told you I’d throw them away if I see them there again!’). Throwing away toys left on the floor or putting them in a trash bin almost invariably has a negative impact on the child’s mind. What is more, it is simply cruel and unwise. Try doing the following.

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Write a note on behalf of the toy lying on the floor. Something like ‘It’s cold in here, put me in that cozy box!’ If there is dust on the TV screen, which you asked the child to clean to no avail, write something funny or at least neutral on it (‘Dust me!’). By doing so, you will remind the child about their chores without confronting them and exposing them to your anger. Adults are often tired and stressed out, and this anger is sometimes displaced on to children. Be a wise and patient parent, however hard it may be. Such notes used as substitutes for shouting will prevent negative emotions from affecting your relationship with the kid. Writing gives your irritation time to abate, and the child will face a note, which will be easier to bear than your shouting.

It is important to note that using notes all the time is not a good option. Occasional notes are fine and may be beneficial, but live conversations must be your primary means of communication.

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