Answering Hard Questions from Preschoolers
When Arnold Schwartzenegger stepped out from his traditional action roles to do the movie Kindergarten Cop, I was more than a little skeptical. I was surprised by how much I liked it. The story was compelling and, at times, heartwarming. However, the most enjoyable part was watching Schwartzenegger’s action hero persona getting flustered by little children. It’s always funny to watch when it is happening to someone else.
One area where children are masters at flustering adults is with questions. Preschoolers have an amazing ability to ask abstract questions without the ability to think abstractly. Seemingly out of nowhere, a question will arise that is complicated or requires an answer we feel like they aren’t ready to hear. How do we handle these moments.
Here are the most difficult questions from preschoolers and how to answer them:
In general, any difficult questions from preschoolers come from personal experience. A parent is pregnant, in the military or they were mistreated at school. It’s important to look past the question to see the reason they are asking. In most cases, the issue at hand is a potential threat to their security. They are wondering how they will be affected and are looking for affirmation that they will be okay. It’s also important to give them concrete answers. A solid yes or no, do or don’t do.
“Where do babies come from?”
This question could come from anxious feeling of whether or not they will be a good older sibling. It may also come from a jealous place and what they are really asking is, “Will I still be loved and cared for?” You can simply respond by saying, “Mommies and Daddies have babies.” That will probably cover that the surface question. Then go further and satisfy the question underneath. Affirm what a great older sibling they will be and how you will continue to love and care for them just like before. If they are openly jealous, be gracious and empathetic. Tell them that change is hard for adults also.
“Why are some people mean?”
Start by asking them if someone was mean to them. They were probably hurt or not included by someone, maybe even a friend. They probably need to be lovingly affirmed that it usually has to do with how that person feels bad inside. Someone might have been mean to them. You can say, “They could feel lonely, jealous, sick or maybe they just be having an off day that has nothing to do with you.” Respond with kindness. If they continue, walk away, but never return meanness with meanness.
“Why don’t we have ‘X’ that my friend’s family has?”
This one probably has more to do with one specific toy or two than a disappointment in their standard of living. It’s one particular thing they want that they don’t have. Kids get tired of their old toys and kids with seemingly everything still say it. This could be a good time to affirm your family values. “We choose to spend our time and money on the things that are most important to us. Each family is different. We just want to make sure we are thankful for the things we have.”
“What’s a war?”
Military families probably get this question more because it is a reality for them. If so, what they are really asking is, “Is something going to happen to my mommy or daddy?” They are scared. The surface answer is: War is when two or more countries fight each other. One country might want something the other one has or wants to be in charge of that country. The other country may be defending itself from the country trying to take over. The deeper question is harder to answer. The unfortunate reality is something might happen to mommy or daddy. You want to communicate your love for them and that no matter what they will be taken care of.
For all of the families sacrificing in this way, THANK YOU from all of us here at All Pro Dad.
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What’s the hardest question you have ever received from your kids?