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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Why does my toddler ask “why” all the time?

Q: Why does my toddler ask "why" so many times?  She’ll ask “why do you have to go to work?” and I’ll answer that I work so I can get money to help our family, and then she’ll ask “but why do you have to get money?”

A: Because between ages 2 and 3, children develop the cognitive ability to make logical connections between things--to understand why things happen. This is a critical skill that helps them gain a much more complex understanding of how the world works.. When they ask, “why?” they are showing a thirst for knowledge. They want more information. So asking “why” is critical for your child. The more she asks, “why?”, the more she learns. 

The short answer is to try to be patient with your daughter’s many questions. You are  feeding her  natural curiosity and increasing her appetite for learning. You are also helping her better understand the meaning of the words she hears and uses in daily conversations, book sharing, and stories.

As your child gets older, you can also try answering some "why" questions with "What do you think?" This gets her wheels turning and nurtures her logical thinking and language skills. Remember to wait patiently for her to think about and share her ideas before rushing in with your “answer.” It is also important to honor her response, even if it’s not correct, and then share the information you have. For example, if she says she thinks that the water in the pot is bubbling because you put bubble bath in it, you might say, “Bubble bath does make bubbles in the water in the tub. But when water bubbles in a pot on the stove like this, it means that it is very, very hot. We call that boiling.”





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