Kids ask a lot of questions, so here’s how to answer the toughest questions kids ask.
Children are naturally curious. Not only about how the world works, but often about their bodies and why they are different to others. Some of these questions that kids ask will really make parents squirm, but it is important to have open and honest conversations around even the toughest topics.
Since becoming a parent, I have heard some very interesting questions asked by my children. We’ve talked openly and honestly about almost everything. People and pets dying, where babies come from and why boys bodies are different to girls.
As they have gotten older, there have even been questions around gay relationships and marriage, polygamy, divorce, depression, cancer, and even anxiety disorders.
Sometimes the questions kids ask appear totally random. Other times, they’re focused on certain events or things they’ve overheard grown-ups, or other kids, talking about.
Either way, I want to ensure that we have a meaningful dialogue with each other. This may be difficult if they’re asking about some concepts and topics that seem a little too mature. However, we try to live by the rule of, “If they’re old enough to ask it, they’re old enough to get a truthful response”.
Is There A Right Way to Answer Kids Questions?
As with anything to do with parenting, there is no rule-book, so there is never a right or wrong way.
You must look to what you feel comfortable discussing, and what fits with your customs and beliefs.
I do believe however, the worst thing you can do is to either ignore the question or even to put off answering.
Is there a right way to answer these complicated questions kids ask, without scaring or upsetting them?
How do you give an age-appropriate answer?
- Be Honest. What we have discovered is that the truth is usually less believable than a lie. (My daughter still thinks I’m pulling her leg about a surgeon cutting her and her brother out of my belly so, maybe I didn’t explain that one very well).
- Ask Some Clarifying Questions. It is important to fully understand EXACTLY what your child is asking before you answer. This strategy also buys you some time to get your thoughts together before answering.
- Offer Straight-forward and Simple Answers. Once you know the exact question, don’t give a complicated answer. This KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) option really is the best. You can always dive deeper if they have more questions.
- Be Available For Follow-Ups. Let your child guide you on this. If they have further questions, you can address them as needed. In fact, some tough questions kids ask are a terrific opportunity to spend some time together researching answers.
Five Tips To Answer The Tough Questions Your Kids Ask
While some questions can be real white knucklers for parents, most questions can be answered easily and simply by keeping a few important things in mind.
1. Keep Calm
Buy yourself some time by clarifying what they are truly asking. If your child asks “Where does poo come from?” you want to ensure they are talking about toileting and not Pooh Bear before you answer.
If it’s too complicated to answer without taking some time to think about it, remember, you can always defer.
For instance, say something like, “That’s a good question. Let me think about it and then we’ll talk it through”.
Just make sure you do get back to them with an answer to your kids tough questions.
2. Let Your Child Guide The Conversation
Once your child has asked a sticky question, give them an honest but simple answer. Don’t over-complicate things.
If they then want more information, they will ask again.
Also, you don’t need to force a conversation about a tough topic.
For example, if your family pet is sick, don’t be the one that forces a conversation about it. Simply tell them what is happening and that you are taking Fido to the vet because they are not well.
Then, leave the questions to your kids to ask. They’ll come to you when they’re ready to talk.
This way you let your kids know you’re always there to talk about things whenever they are ready.
Children all cope with different situations in different ways. If you’re anxious that your child isn’t talking after a traumatic event, it is always advised to seek professional advice.
3. Loss Is Stressful And Difficult To Understand
Whether this loss is through the death of a family member, friend or pet, or, if someone close is moving away it’s totally normal for your child to feel some anxiety around it.
Keep their age in mind when you answer questions kids ask around loss and death. Reassure them that this process is the natural way life works and that you plan on living for a long time.
Talk about things people can do to remain safe and healthy. Also, don’t be afraid to let them know that you don’t have all of the answers.
The important thing here is to assure them that they are safe and loved.
4. Think About What Your Child Is Really Asking.
This goes back to the above bullet point – Ask Clarifying Questions.
It’s difficult to answer the tough questions kids ask if you don’t fully understand what they are asking. By using this approach you will often find that it is a lot less complicated than you initially thought. It also buys you time to think through your response.
Try asking your child what they think before providing an answer. This will give you a better idea of where they’re coming from.
5.You Don’t Need To Have All The Answers To The Tough Questions Kids Ask
These include tough questions about your personal life and intrusive questions about things like your sex life or money. Generally, any topics that are not age appropriate.
The big thing here is to avoid lying. Michele Borba, Ed.D., psychologist and author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions states. “Research says that kids say the worst lie they were ever told was a lie their parents told them.
If you believe a topic is not appropriate to be discussed, just let your child know that. The worst that can happen is that they will ask why, and you can then explain your reasoning.
Some families discuss their financial situation openly, whereas others don’t like to do that. Again, there is no right or wrong, it is what you as parents are comfortable discussing with your children.
However, don’t just ignore these tough questions kids ask! Explain why you believe it is not appropriate.
Indeed, if you don’t provide an answer to that they deem adequate, kids will simply ask again. This may be straight away, or they may come back another time to explore the topic.
At the end of the day this is the best outcome as they feel safe coming to you to talk and voice those tough questions kids ask.
The bottom line is that kids are naturally curious about everything. It is inevitable there will be some tough questions kids ask.
Using our expert tips above, you will go a long way to having meaningful conversations with your kids. You will also be teaching your kids how to communicate and ask relevant questions that others can understand.
Use open communication methods and ensure you are patient when answering the questions kids ask of you. Getting communication and boundaries with kids is important and you will reap many rewards if you can get this sorted early.
Sara is a freelance writer, award winning parenting blogger, and public relations specialist from Toronto, Canada. She is mother to fraternal girl/boy twins, loves music, hiking, and offbeat pop culture.