I remember as a child wondering what it would be like to be a grown-up. I wondered how my body would change and when. I also wondered what it would be like to be able to make decisions that to me as a child, seemed momentous, such as buying a car or a home. These any many other questions are all normal. But unfortunately parents often forget that their children have, what is to them, very serious questions that need answers. Parents often treat the questions as trivial or even silly. Some parents may even laugh out loud at a child when she asks something they think is ridiculous. Other parents may walk away, perhaps embarrassed to handle the subject being questioned, or maybe considering it unimportant and just looking to get on with their day.
As a psychologist I am very concerned about parental practices that are dismissive of kid’s questions. Most kids are asking sincere questions. These questions reflect their uncertainties about things that seem important to them. The correct answers not only quiet their anxieties and fears but give them the tools they need to move ahead in development. So here are some tips for you:
1. Assume any question from you child is not a joke and treat it with dignity. Answer as best you can and make sure to leave the door open that you can discuss that issue again.
2. If you can’t answer it at that moment tell her when you can get back to her with an answer and discussion.
3. If you are not the right person to answer the question, help her find the right person.
4. Give her examples from your own past as to how you successfully handled issues that come up as we grow and change.
5. Check back with her later or in the foreseeable future to see if she has more questions on a particular subject. That way you give her a secure feeling that she can ask more if she needs to.