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Your child's questions

The world is a fascinating place for a four year old

Now that your child is four, you will undoubtedly be aware that their curiosity knows no bounds! They are interested in everything from why the sky's blue, to how the fridge stays cold.

A questioning nature is undoubtedly a positive attribute and most of the time children ask questions in order to learn, as Arnold Edinborough said "Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly." Likewise, Albert Einstein said "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing."

However, sometimes it can feel like they're just playing up, particularly when you're short of time. The seemingly endless chorus of ‘Why?' when you're under pressure with 101 things to do can be tricky to handle.

What's this all about?

Asking questions is a sign that your child is devoping his/her intellect. Rather than simply accepting that things just ‘are', they're beginning to question in an effort to better understand how the world works.

According to child educational psychologist Simon Cusworth, "...something called ‘individuation' occurs, when they begin to become aware of themselves as individuals, and to see the gap between how the world is and how they want it to be".

This breeds questions like ‘why is the grass green?', and indeed much tougher questions like ‘what is colour made of?'. It also leads to questions which challenge your authority e.g. ‘why can't I have some chocolate?'; and ‘why do I have to go to bed?'.

How should you handle it?

Well the good news is that you shouldn't feel like you have to have all of the answers. Telling your child that you're not sure will help them to understand that no one knows everything. This may also reassure them that it's ok for them not to know everything too. It's also a great chance to teach your child how to find out things for themselves. Good resources include an encyclopaedia, nature books, the internet, and your local library.

If your child is asking a tricky question at the wrong time - for example when you are trying to get them ready for school and are already running late - it's probably because they are either craving attention, or testing out a challenge to your authority. There's never enough hours in the day and you can't always drop what you're doing in order to fully discuss the question. If you're getting a bit frazzled it's best to simply reassure your child that you will talk it through more fully (or indeed look up the answer) later on; and of course, make sure you honour your promise!

When it comes to questions which challenge your authority, it's best to answer the question as fully as you can, but to stick to your guns. At Perform we teach children to co-operate with each other, so they learn that no one can have their own way all of the time -  an important lesson!

Play and pretend

Part of your child's curiosity comes from a desire to work things out for themselves, so help them stretch their powers of deduction with the Perform game What am I?


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