The WHY Stage

 

he WHY Stage Blog Post - Lots of Whys Cartoon

Like a Switch            

Dylan turned three years old a few months back and just like that he snapped into the ‘WHY’ stage. I think most people have heard of this phase. The word ‘Why?’ and sometimes, just for a bit of light relief, ‘What’, ‘How’, or ‘Where’, is spoken copiously.

There is no regard to conversational rules, how irritating it can be or indeed, a lot of the time, what the answer even is. Asking the question seems to be the only priority.

I know it is essential for a child’s development, enhances learning and shows that a child is reaching another milestone and all that blah blah. But my goodness, It really is one of the longest and most infuriating phases during toddler and pre-school years. When will it end?

Argh, it has caught on and now I am asking questions as well.

 

The Different Types of WHY

What I have noticed over the past few months are patterns of questions. Here are a few:

  1. The no matter what is said, the answer is ‘Why?’

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Let’s read a book.”

“Why?”

“What did you have for lunch at daycare today?”

“Why?”

 

  1. The double why:

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Because you are dirty and its nearly bedtime.”

“Why?”

 

  1. The I have no idea of what the answer is questions:

“Why is it called ‘ham’?” (Wikipedia here we come)

“Why do leaves fall from trees Mummy?”

“Because it is winter time” (feeling good, know the answer)

“But why?”

“Er…”

 

  1. The inappropriate why:

“Why has that man got many chins?” (Move trolley fast down aisle one).

 

The Different Types of Answers

I have also taken note that how I answer depends on what sort of question it is, whether I know the answer and how often ‘Why’ has been used that day (i.e.: how exasperated I am). Sometimes I do answer the question properly and directly but often I use these alternatives:

Do not say anything

Used when I am irritated, do not know the answer, realise that answering would not make any sense, or all three combined. Best time to employ this approach is with the ‘double why’.

“Its time for a bath.”

“Why?”

“Because you are dirty and its nearly bedtime.”

“Why?”

-Silence-

Of course this may backfire and I sometimes get a continuous stream of ‘why, why, why’ but I find if I hold my ground they dissipate fairly quickly.

Fire the question back at him

This tactic is good when I think Dylan knows the answer but has gone on autopilot with his ‘Why’. Best used to reiterate a learning point.

“Stop sitting on Eloise.”

“Why?”

“Why do you think you should not sit on your baby sister?”

“Cos I squash her and she cries.”

However, it is dangerous to use it when you are not certain what the answer will be. Believe me, do not reply back “Why do you think that man has many chins?”

Make up the answer

I find it fun to make up the answer sometimes. It shows imagination and creativity on my part and has the added bonus of not letting on that I really have no idea of the true reason. Sure, he may get to school with some weird beliefs but who is to say what is real these days?

“Where has the other part of the moon gone?”

“The stars and clouds took a bite out of it”

The clichéd response

I even use the proverbial “Because I said so”. Every time I say it I cringe at how unoriginal I sound. However, sometimes it eliminates a long and unnecessary response.

“Why do I have to brush my teeth every day?”

(I could say that it makes teeth strong, because I care for him or it is a great habit to continue if he wants to be a fully functioning adult, but instead…)

“Because I said so”

 

Navel-Gazing

The ‘WHY’ stage is not all bad. It helps me to see the world from Dylan’s point of view. It allows me to revisit accepted beliefs, learn new ideas and see things from a young, fresh perspective.

The other day, Dylan said to me “Mummy, why are we here?” And I started thinking. Why are we here? What are we all put on this Earth for? What is my purpose in life? How can I construct a legacy I would be happy with?

I wasn’t sure where to begin to give a full and appropriate answer to such an esoteric question from a three year old. While I was still ruminating, Dylan’s little voice popped at me again:

“Why are we here at this shop Mummy? What do you want to buy?”

– Oh, no meaning of life answer required today. Thank goodness.

“Mmmm, lets buy some sandwich things, maybe some ham.”

The Why Stage - Ham Picture

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