Five Big Questions Little Kids Ask
by Mary Ann Bradberry on Thursday, May 02, 2013
At times, the never-ending, relentless questions can be annoying and frustrating. But relax. Build fun into your child’s need for answers. View his questions as an opportunity to build a lasting relationship with him. Dr. Susan Bartell observes, “Your child’s questions are a window to his soul.” She also warns that if parents don’t take the time to answer their young children’s questions now, as teenagers they may seek answers to the difficult questions in other, less-desirable places.
When answering young children’s questions, keep three key words in mind: concise, clear, and concrete.
Listen closely for the information your child is asking and follow her lead. Give a simple answer using as few words as possible and wait. This allows your child to take in information, process it, play for a while, and come back with more questions if more information is needed to satisfy her curiosity.
An “I don’t know” response may be the answer for some questions. Being honest helps your child realize that sometimes clear-cut answers are not possible. However, reassure your child’s need for safety by emphasizing that you will always love and protect her.
Children are literal thinkers, meaning that they interpret words at face value. So use words that are appropriate for your child’s age.
The BIG Questions
Some questions children ask can be cute and amusing, but others are profound, puzzling, and challenge even the smartest parents. The following are some frequently asked questions. Notice that some questions are best answered by asking a question.
1. Where do babies come from?
Young children usually are not as interested in the biological facts as they are the concrete facts of where they were born.
Clarify with. What makes you think about that?
Respond with. “You grew from a tiny egg inside a special part of Mommy’s body and became a baby. After several months, you were born.”
Bible verse. “I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
2. Where do you go when you die?
When someone in a child’s life dies, the child needs help understanding what’s happened and accepting the reality of the death. Children need correct information given in concrete language. Avoid euphemisms like passed away, gone to sleep, or God needed Nana in heaven. These can be confusing and frightening to young children.
Clarify with. Where do you think a person goes when he dies?
Respond with. “Nana was sick and the doctors couldn’t make her well. Nana died. When someone dies, it means that the person is not breathing and cannot talk, walk, or eat. You’ll see Nana’s body, but her spirit or the person she was is in heaven with God.”
Bible verse. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
3. Where is God? or Where does God live?
This is a difficult question to answer without being too vague or giving too much information.
Clarify with. Where do you think God is? This question gives your child an opportunity to formulate an answer that satisfies her curiosity.
Respond with. “The Bible tells us that God lives in a place called heaven. We cannot see heaven but we know the Bible is true.” If appropriate, continue with: “God can also be everywhere at the same time, so he can be right here with us.”
Bible verse. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
4. Why do we have to go to church? It’s boring!
More information may be needed to uncover the reason for this question. Your child may be uncomfortable in his classroom because he was embarrassed or bullied or does not feel accepted by his peers. After investigating, it may be necessary to remind your child that going to church is an important way to worship God.
Clarify with. Why do you think church is boring? What do you not like about going to church?
Respond with. Going to church is one way we show God that we love Him. Let’s think of ways to make church more fun for you.
Bible verse. “I rejoiced with those who said to me, Let us go to the house of the Lord'” (Psalm 122:1).
Clarify with. Why do you ask? Where did you hear that word?
Respond with. “The word means _______, and it’s not a good word to use. It’s a word that our family doesn’t say.”
Bible verse. “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
Mary Ann Bradberry lives in Austin, Texas, and is a writer, conference leader, and an online adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University.