It’s inevitable, at some point your child is going to ask you some very awkward questions, some embarrassing, some you just don’t know the answer, others you don’t want to answer and some you just don’t know how to respond.
Not only this, but it’s unlikely that your child will know when it’s an appropriate time to ask a particular question.
Their innocence is adorable, but it can also make you go slightly red in the face when they ask you loudly when you’re at the check out in the supermarket, and they can often leave you a little stumped at times. Young children have what seem like the most straightforward questions, but they are also the most profound ones, and it’s very healthy for them to ask about the world they live in. So for all those questions such as ‘why is the sky blue?’, ‘is Santa real?’, ‘where do babies come from?’ and ‘why don’t girls have willies?’,
Here are a few tips on how you can deal with them.
As parents, you should take a deep breath before you answer. Also, you don’t have to answer a question on the spot. You can tell your child, “that’s a great question, I want to think about that.”’ But you’re going to need an answer at some point to some of these questions:
8 questions from your kids you don’t want to answer but you’ll probably hear anyway
Why is the sky blue?
Your child will want to know everything about the world around them, so when they ask “why is the sky blue?”, you can use this brilliant answer: ‘White sunlight is really a lot of different colors of light mixed together. Light passing through the sky bounces off bits in the air. The blue light gets bounced around the most, so whatever direction you look in, you see a blue color.’ This is a great way to explain it and comes from Professor Brian Cox who teamed up with the Big Bang, a fair for young scientists and engineers.
There are some great educational websites to help you out with this stuff if you need more.
Why don’t girls have willies?
Children are curious about their bodies. If you don’t answer the questions, you’re giving them the impression that it’s bad to talk about bodies and you don’t want kids to be ashamed of their own bodies. It’s important to explain that most parts of people’s bodies are the same – toes, fingers, noses – and many other parts too. But some of the private parts people are born with are not the same, including the vagina and the penis.
What happens when you die?
It can be very hard for your child to understand the concept of death. And according to Winston’s Wish, the charity for bereaved children, it can be confusing for them if you say someone has gone to heaven, has been reborn or is now a star in the sky. A spokesman for Winston’s Wish said, “Young children sometimes misunderstand what these ideas mean. Children have told us that if the person who has died has gone to heaven or is watching over them, they worry whether they will be seen when they are being naughty or want to be private.
They wonder why their parents don’t ring or write from heaven.”
Instead, tell your child that people have different beliefs about what happens when someone dies and ask them what they think happens when someone dies.
Why is the moon sometimes out in the day?
Another one which can make you feel very stupid if you don’t know the answer, but again there are plenty of educational websites to help you out. However, here’s a great answer from a spokesman from the Institute of Physics: “When the Moon revolves around the Earth, half of the time it is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun. The rest of the time, they are on opposite sides.
“When the Moon and Sun are on the same side, the Moon is ‘up’ during the day. When they are on opposite sides, the moon is ‘up’ during the night.”
At certain times of the year depending on daylight hours, the moon is more likely to be seen.
How do planes stay in the sky?
Thanks to Professor Brian Cox and the Big Bang Fair, there is a good answer for this one: ‘’Lots of things that go up into the air can’t stay there, such as a ball you throw, because gravity pulls the object back down. Airplanes, however, are different: They’re built in a special way that allows them to stay up until they’re ready to land.
‘A plane is able to fly when its upward and forward forces are stronger than its downward and backward pulls. The forward pull of a plane comes from its engine, which gives it the power to move – and that force must be bigger than the backward push it receives from the air in front of it.
‘The upward lift of a plane is created thanks to the special curved shape of a plane’s wings. The way air flows over and under the curved wing is what allows a plane to lift up, up, and away.
‘Planes are able to stay in the air because they have more upwards lift than the natural downward pull of gravity.’
Why do people want to kill other people?
With terror attacks happening far too regularly these days and your children hearing about them on the news, it’s only natural that your child will want to ask questions. There is another answer from Winston’s Wish, which says that it’s better not to focus on ‘bad people’ but instead talk about people doing ‘bad things’. This is because children find the idea of bad people particularly frightening.
The charity also advises that: ‘Older children will appreciate more details and the opportunity to explore why people do such desperately terrible things and the way the families are feeling.
‘This can be an opportunity to help young people develop their empathy and reflect on the value of life and relationships.’
Where do babies come from?
The question every parent dreads: ‘where do babies come from?’. And how you answer really depends on how old your child is. If your child is four or five, one way to talk about where babies come from is to focus on the fact it is one of the most amazing science stories about how a sperm and egg get together. According to Robie Harris, author of Let’s Talk, parents should share the following information with their child: “One tiny sperm from inside a man’s body and one tiny egg from inside a woman’s body are needed to make a baby. When the two get together, a baby can start to grow”.’
If you have an older child then, perhaps about seven, eight or nine – they will know the word sex. And although there’s a good chance they will know that making a baby has something to do with sex, they won’t know exactly what it is. Explain it in a conversational way, and again take some tips from Let’s Talk, which says: “When a man and woman want to make a baby they hug and kiss and are very loving. They get very close, so close that the man’s penis goes inside the woman’s vagina. When this happens, this is called sexual intercourse.” Then you can go on to explain about the sperm and egg and how the two together make a baby.
What’s Wrong With That Man?
Imagine you’re walking along the street, and you pass someone with a disability, and your child loudly asks about it. While reprimanding your child may be your first instinct, it is actually important to treat your child with empathy. Say something like: “I understand why you asked, but I don’t want to make that person uncomfortable so let’s wait.”
If you meet someone you know with a disability—and forgot to tell your child beforehand, it’s fine to ask your friend “Would you like me to answer that or would you?” Then, you should be able to lead the conversation in a way that creates an opening for your friend to talk about their life. This is a really good way to encourage kids to be curious about people and look beyond labels.
As long as you can buy yourself some time, then thanks to the internet, you should be able to find the right answer to most questions your kids ask, but if all else fails, you can always throw out a white flag and change the subject with…“Did you say you needed to go to the toilet? Okay then, let’s go!” Or distract them with a “WOW! Look over there — did you see that squirrel run up that tree? Let’s go see if it’s still there!”. Alternatively, you could be a little more honest and say: “You know what, I’m not quite sure. Why don’t we do some research together and find out this afternoon.” Or, shirk the responsibility altogether and say “Let’s ask Daddy what he thinks.”
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