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The Annoying 'Why?': How To Respond to Curious Kids (Parent Tips)

Question Mark
Question Mark

Have you ever experienced a situation where you are trying to work while your kid sits next to you, constantly asking 'why' on repeat? Annoying isn’t it? Do you feel tempted to ignore them, scold them, or say something like ‘because it's magic’?

As tempting as it may be, these types of responses can shut down kids, and affect their development more than you would imagine. Children need positive support from you so that they can learn about the things they are experiencing as they grow older.

These are some things to keep in mind when you hear that annoying 'why'. Let's dive into them.

Listen to your Kid

Even before speaking, kids begin to develop an understanding of the situations around them. When they point at something or mumble the same broken sentences over and over again, they are often curious and want some sort of answer.

Asking questions and having them adequately answered, can help kids learn meanings and reasoning for certain actions or behaviors. If a child feels that you are annoyed by their questioning, they may stop altogether, which can slow their cognitive development.

Explain Things to your Kid

Many of the things we feel we have always known were taught to us at a very young age, which is why we no longer remember learning them. Counting numbers, responses like ‘how are you’ and ‘I’m good, what about you?’ and other actions that you don’t even have to think about are new to children.

Since children mimic our actions and reactions, it’s important to explain why something is happening. This helps a child understand things like emotions, feelings, and the situations that happen around them.

For instance, when your child is upset about something, discuss their anger with them when they have calmed down. Explain why they are feeling angry, what that anger means, and most importantly, how to overcome it.

A Mother Talking To Her Child
A Mother Talking To Her Child

Be Honest with your Kid

Sometimes kids ask uncomfortable questions, and answering them can be difficult. Don’t be shy when it comes to googling easy ways to explain something to them or seeking advice from others.

Some parents choose to lie to their children. For instance, where do babies come from?

This can help avoid the topic until they are older, but it’s better to at least give a vague and easy-to-understand explanation. Children need to know about difficult-to-approach topics, and lying to your children might come back to you shortly.

Counter Attack on your Kids

Kids usually act without knowing what they are doing (like pulling out drawers).

Or sometimes they don’t understand why they are upset. Other times they are bored and just want you to answer them, even if they already know the answer.

When this happens, try questioning them and saying, “Well what do you think”, prompting them to think. Steering their understanding away from just questioning others towards thinking can help them ask more precise and thoughtful questions. If not, at least they will probably stop questioning you as much.

Note: Make sure you are gentle. Kids will only open up if they feel that you want to hear their opinion, and are not just snapping at them.

Expand And Give Reasoning

Help children expand their understanding instead of just giving them the answer. Kids aren’t robots who will accept commands without understanding, like why something is dangerous or wrong.

When they understand why they can or can’t do something, they are more likely to listen. For instance, if your kid wants to touch a hot pan, instead of shouting “no you can’t”, move them to the side and explain to them that it’s hot and can hurt them.

On the other hand, if your child wants to pet a cat, tell them they can try gently touching them, and if the cat comes close, they can pet the cat because the cat is okay with it. This way your child can learn when they can touch something and when they shouldn’t.

Two People Sitting At A Table
Two People Sitting At A Table

Patience, Patience, Patience, and Patience Again

Kids will experiment with different things like sounds (banging pots and pans), tastes (eating dirt), and touch (putting their hands on the stove).

Children are going through a very important milestone in their development, and as necessary as it is for them to experience these things, it will be difficult to deal with. As hard as it can be, don’t shout at them. Scaring children or shooing them away can make them afraid of trying new things and approaching you.

At the same time, it is also necessary to be realistic. You won’t be able to respond to every question every single time. Try setting boundaries and explaining to them that you can address their concerns later on. Filter through their questions and recognize what questions are important and need to be addressed and what questions you can return to later.

Moral Obligation of Others?

Parents, teachers, and role models aside, children are also influenced by other people around them. This is why people without kids need to understand how they can influence children.

No influence is better than negative influence.

If you are not the parent, you don’t have an obligation to answer a kid's questions or deal with them but don’t be rude or shut them down.

Gently tell them that it would be better to ask their parents. Treat kids with respect like any other person. Your interaction with them may not seem important, but it can affect their development and growth.


Children need positive support from you as a parent so that they can learn about the things they are experiencing as they grow older. Help children expand their understanding instead of just giving them the answer or shutting them down.

This will require patience, but it is necessary to give children room to grow and address their concerns. Remember, having a welcoming environment around them will help your child in their learning, further allowing them to become confident. Answer curious kids "why" with a present-mindedness and you'll be soon wondering about their progress.

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