How to Answer Tough Questions from Your Kids
No matter what age your child is, they’re likely full of curiosity and wonder. This means they’re coming to you for direction and information. So they’ll likely ask you questions that are difficult to answer.
But no matter how difficult their questions may be to answer, you are their guardian and therefore have the responsibility to guide them down the right path.
So to help you answer some of the difficult questions kids spring on us, here’s a list of the toughest (and not-so-tough) questions kids commonly ask their parents, along with tips on how to answer kids’ questions.
TIPS FOR PARENTS WHEN ANSWERING THEIR CHILD’S TOUGHER QUESTIONS:
When children ask questions, they do so because they want to know more about life. They are not asking these tough questions to be mean. So don’t get upset or embarrassed, and instead, remain calm.
If your child asks you a tough or embarrassing question in public about someone nearby, teach your child the importance of discretion. Say something like, “We will talk about this later in the car or at home.”
And when you are out of earshot from the person in question, explain to your child that, “other people don’t like it when they hear us talking about them. So it’s best to keep these questions private and ask them at home or in the car.”
Don’t discourage your child from asking questions. Their thirst for knowledge is important for their development. And you would probably rather answer these questions than have someone else answer them.
So answer the questions with confidence and make your child feel comfortable and confident in asking you questions.
Adjust Answers to the Child’s Age
Use age-appropriate answers so your child will understand your answers. For young children, especially, give them simple, truthful answers that they can process, and save the specific and complex answers for when they are older.
Use everyday examples, books, or videos to help your child better understand your explanations.
Keep the Doors of Communication Open
Communication is key for a healthy parent-child relationship. So don’t avoid the questions or tell your child not to ask those questions. Otherwise, they might become afraid to ask you questions and open up to you.
Be Gentle and Courteous
Show your child kindness and respect when answering their tough questions. This way, you can teach them that it’s okay to ask tough questions, and you can set an example of how to be gentle and courteous to others.
COMMON TOUGH QUESTIONS YOUR CHILD COULD ASK INCLUDE
Where do babies come from?
While this question might embarrass you, you’re bound to hear it one day. So don’t look embarrassed when the day comes, and give your child a simple, truthful, age-appropriate answer that they can understand. And you can also tell them that you will explain more when the time is right.
What happens if you and Daddy/Mommy fall out of love?
Explain to your child that this does happen in some families. But that you are still in love, even though you might argue once in a while because when friends live together, they tend to argue about things.
Will I die someday? Will you? What happens when you die?
Questions about death are typically brought on when there’s a death in the family or when a pet passes. While it’s difficult to tell your child the truth, be honest but also reassure your child that death is a part of life and most people won’t die until they’re old and have lived a long, happy life.
Why do people get sick?
Suggested Answer: People usually get sick from germs—those tiny critters that get into our bodies through the food we eat, the air we breathe, or when we touch our faces without washing our hands.
Most of the time, our bodies fight off germs so we don’t get sick. When our bodies can’t find off the germs right away, we will get sick. But our bodies do a good job of fighting off germs so when we do get sick, we won’t be sick for long.
And sometimes, people get sick because their bodies aren’t working properly. But that usually only happens when people are older.
The best ways to avoid getting sick are to wash your hands often, especially before eating, eat healthy food, exercise, and get enough sleep.
Why is that person homeless?
Suggested Answer: There are many reasons why people become homeless. Maybe they lost their job and couldn’t make enough money to pay for their home. Or maybe they became too sick to keep their job and their home.
Not everyone gets to live in a house with a family we do. So it is important to help homeless people whenever we can, like donating food and clothing to food banks and homeless shelters.
Do you love “sibling X” more than me? Or: Do you love Mommy/Daddy more than me?
The easy answer is: “No, I love you all equally.” But, if possible, it’s important to address the underlying reason for this question in your answer. Maybe your child feels less loved because there’s a new baby in the family who’s getting more attention or your child has been getting into trouble lately, and you’ve had to discipline them.
Whatever the reason, explain that “even though x happened, I will always love you lots, and never less than anyone else.”
Why do people do bad things?
You can easily say that you don’t know. Or you can try to explain the complexities of human behaviour—age-permitting—e.g., “People make mistakes. And sometimes people choose to make really bad mistakes. Maybe they are unhappy because they didn’t grow up in a happy family. Or maybe they were scared.”
What does [swear word] mean and why can’t I say it?
If you don’t want your child to repeat said swear word, don’t over-react when they say it. Many kids will try to get a reaction out of their parents by saying forbidden words. So instead, calmly explain that the word is not nice and it can hurt peoples’ feelings.
SOME LESS SERIOUS QUESTIONS YOU MAY ENCOUNTER FROM YOUR CHILD INCLUDE:
Why can’t I stay up as late as you?
Instead of telling your child that you need time for yourself to avoid parental burnout, give them a simple answer, like: “Children need more sleep than adults because they are growing and their bodies and brains need rest to grow.”
Why do I have to invite that person to my birthday party?
Suggested Answer: It’s important to make new friends and make people feel included. That person would feel really sad if they weren’t invited to your birthday party.
Why does Mommy shave her legs?
Simply put, Mommy shaves her legs because she likes the feeling of smooth skin. When your child is older, you can explain to them that women don’t have to shave their legs if they don’t want to.
Why do people get grey hair and wrinkles?
Now is a great opportunity to explain to kids the concept of ageing in an age-appropriate way. Explain how when people grow up and get older, their bodies change and look different. So their hair will turn grey, and their skin will have wrinkles.
While they look a bit different, it’s important to treat older people with respect, and not point at their grey hair and wrinkles. Older people have been alive for a lot longer than children have, so they know a lot more about life.
The next time your kid asks a difficult-to-answer question, consider these tips on how to answer tough questions from kids. And remember—stay calm, communicate, and foster that curiosity!