Even in this special occasion that is Mothers’ Day, we are not safe from that constant threat: questions kids ask. They are unpredictable and often way more complex than we expect.
That is why, as a gift for your Mothers’ Day, we put together a list of advice and suggestions so that you can remember that motto you repeated when you were younger: “Mom knows it all!”
Unfortunately, we haven’t always got the answer for every single situation, but luckily we can avoid this fact by enriching the dialogue with the children, whether it be asking questions ourselves, encouraging reflection about the topic, or even gaining a few minutes to check on the internet about it.
A few actions during conversation are essential both for creating a safe space for kids to speak their hearts out without fear of judgment and even as a way for them to start elaborating their own solutions for everyday problems.
Understand what the actual question is
Kids’ questions not always present their true doubts. “Why does uncle Jules and aunt Mary sleep in the same bed?” could make moms shiver. Is it time yet for the embarrassing questions we have been rehearsing to properly answer to?
Not necessarily. It is possible that it is just a way for the kid to express its uneasiness in “giving up” his or her bed when relatives come to spend the night.
Understanding what actually bothers children (or the problem they might be trying to solve) is the key to deal with most of the toughest questions. Usually, the actual amount of required explanations is way smaller than previously expected. Some questions are just a way to wrap things up.
Lying is out of question
Using “small lies” is a very common action that look harmless to the point we don’t even perceive it as they are: lies. Want a classic example of it? “We buy it on our way back”. Everyone has heard it once or twice in their lives.
As inoffensive as it might sound, the anxiety and hopes that this simple answer generates is not to be taken lightly. Imagine now if this is a standard answer every time parents are trying to avoid specific issues? Things might not end well, right?
Using this catch for avoiding complicated questions or situations is not worth it. It only delays the possible resolution of the kid’s problem and doesn’t offer any real learning for him or her.
Instead of telling a small lie, you can honestly explain your point to your children and, even better, encourage them to think about what they’re asking or speaking, as in “If you really want to buy it, what do you think about saving your allowance?”.
Hiding things also doesn’t help
As much as we try our best to protect our kids from those sensible or tough-to-deal issues, someday they emerge. That is the single most important reason why it is not advised to hide these “taboo”.
Whether they heard it from their school peers or even overheard mom and dad casually talking about it, at some point opening up becomes mandatory.
Remember the question about uncle Jules and aunt Mary? Imagine now it was slightly different: “Why does uncle Jules and uncle Mario sleep in the same bed?”. The question might indicate a different concern, but the way to deal with it is much simpler: “Because they love each other and live together”. This answer might raise other questions that can easily be answered with similar simplicity.
One topic that is traditionally sensible, for example, is the death of a beloved one. At times like this, children will almost always be eavesdropping before you realize, paying even more attention to those words adults usually avoid around them.
Each kid fills the gaps in its knowledge about death in an unique and unpredictable way. Unfortunately, there is a very upsetting and common trend: assuming the fault is their own.
With little information, each kid will use its close universe of things to fill themselves what is left to know. Since its universe still very closely revolves around their own acts, this connection ends up being the low hanging fruit.
Questions kids ask can be solutions kids come up with
Lastly, often your kid’s question is not exactly a doubt. It is his or her insecurity over their own identity and ideas. Questions that fit this category are usually very concerning for any mom. “Why doesn’t anybody like me?” is a tough example.
The most important action here is encouraging children to talk about their own feelings and their reasons to believe the situation is as told. While looking for ways to express themselves at the same time they feel they are being heard, kids themselves will start making connections and tying knots they haven’t seen beforehand.
When you feel there is enough information on the table, turn the question back at the kid with a slightly different approach: “What do you think can be done about it?”
With a proper space to be heard and understand its own feelings, in other words a safe space, your child will feel encouraged to really face the problems. This is a very important step for its social-emotional development.