The power of all those ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions our little ones ask

Jessica Bosco

Jessica Bosco

Jessica is a writer, editor and professional wrangler of two boys. Working in women's lifestyle publishing for over 15 years she has written about everything from fashion and beauty to royal weddings and true crime. These days she loves helping parents navigate pregnancy and the early years of raising little ones...
Updated on Apr 03, 2024 · 6 mins read
The power of all those ‘How’ and ‘Why’ questions our little ones ask

As parents we get asked a million and one questions a day by our little ones… ‘but WHY do boats float?’ or, ‘HOW does the sky stay up?’

It can often feel frustrating as a parent to be the one in the hot seat – and we can feel a lot of pressure to know all the answers and to say the right thing.

But there is actually such a positive advantage for putting our child’s curious little minds in the question seat every once in a while. By asking them questions during playtime, you are helping them form their understanding of how the world works in a safe and supportive environment.

In partnership with LEGO® DUPLO® and with the help of parenting coach Genevieve Muir, we look at the importance of questions during playtime, how you can ask questions that won’t result in just a yes or a no and how to flip the script and put them in the driver’s seat when it comes to answering questions.

How asking questions during playtime sets the foundations of learning

When our children ask questions they are forming thoughts, beliefs, values and an understanding of the world around them. Play is where they make sense of things, and it’s why we see them playing ‘house’ or ‘going to work’. They see us do these things every day and play is where their inquisitive minds can get a grasp on what this means.

So by asking them questions, you are not only helping their minds process what they are doing, but you are also helping them to feel seen and heard while boosting their self-esteem and confidence. And in turn, allowing them to feel free to ask you questions.

Why are their curious questions so important?

Children need to feel safe, secure and supported in order to feel confident to embark on learning and discovery. This is invaluable as they grow and head off to school – but the learning and discovery they are doing now in these early years can’t be underestimated.

We can often feel like those million and one questions are mostly just annoying, especially when they are coming at us all day, every day. But this is their brain making sense of things and showing they are hungry for discovery.

So how do you appreciate the HOWs and the WHYs?

There are a few things you should know when it comes to answering your little one’s questions.

Sure, sometimes it will be a straightforward answer, and you’re rushing around trying to get everyone out of the bath and into bed and you won’t have time to delve into a complete history of how dinosaurs became extinct. But taking a few moments to acknowledge the question is so important.

Instead of trying to skirt around the question or brushing it off, say, ‘that’s a fantastic question’, or, ‘thank you for asking’, says Gen. “This does two things – it lets our kids know we are ok that they asked, but it also gives us a breather to think of our answer!”

Introduce the concept of ‘wonder’

Wonder and curiosity are the most fantastic ways to navigate through many tricky, sticky parenting struggles – including answering those big questions! Curiosity is such a great way to show (louder than words can) that we care, that we are present and open.

So when your little one is coming at you with ALL the questions, try flipping it back on them.

Really commit, says Gen, so finger on your chin, thinking face on as you respond,  ‘Hmm, that’s a really great question…’ Kids are all about the non-verbal cues so don’t forget those!

‘I’m wondering what you think the answer is?’ Or, ‘I’m curious what you mean by that, can you tell me more?’

This not only helps to clarify the actual question, but it also stops us from launching into a full description of ‘the birds and the bees’ when what our child wanted to know was actually not that detailed! It also puts them in the driver’s seat to get their mind thinking, contemplating and imagining what the answer might be.

You can then go on to have a conversation about their answer – and whether or not they were correct – always encourage their efforts and acknowledge how well they did. For example, ‘that is such a great guess, I really loved how you thought about what might have happened there.’

When in doubt, play it out!

During playtime, our little ones are developing crucial skills such as imagination and creativity but also critical thinking. Play can be the perfect gateway for learning as they see their curiosity come to life.

When they ask, “Why does that person look a bit different?” (usually less politely than that), it’s an opportunity to teach them how everyone’s different, and it’s those unique things that make us special in our own way. You can help your child explore diversity and differences creatively, through play. 

Using the LEGO® DUPLO® Buildable People with Big Emotions set, your child can build and rebuild their own unique characters. As they choose whether to click on some curly hair, long legs, or a face with glasses, they’re learning that there’s no such thing as “normal”, and that people come in so many different shapes and forms!

Explain that it’s okay to be curious about people, as long as you remember that everyone is awesome in their own way.

When you ignite their curious minds, you’ll be amazed to see where it takes you both.

When our kids ask us questions, it provides the perfect opportunity to get them to express and form ideas and to work with you to come to the correct answer. By doing these back-and-forth type of questions during playtime, you are allowing your child to take risks – remember it’s ok if they get the answers wrong! By giving them a safe space to try, you are allowing them a safe and supportive environment in which to form their ideas.

By taking the time to fully engage with your child when they ask questions, you are doing so much more than stating a fact. You are nurturing your bond with them, you are forming the basis of their learning and values and of course, you never know, you might learn a thing or two from them!

This is a paid partnership between Kiindred and LEGO® DUPLO®

LEGO, the LEGO logo and DUPLO, are the trademarks and copyrights of the LEGO Group. ©2024 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved

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