The Family Project: Bond with daughter, 4, over questions
Q. My four-year-old is starting to ask a lot of “why” and “how” questions: “Why is the sky blue?” “How do birds fly?” “How do babies happen?“ I am not sure what and how much to tell her. Sometimes, I’m not sure if I know how things work. Should I just make up what I don’t know?
“Four-year-olds are just starting to learn social interaction, and part of that is asking questions,” panelist Chad Stefanyak said. “This four-year-old is trying to find out how to have a conversation, so practice that. Ask her a question.”
“What I do with my grandson,” panelist Denise Continenza said, “is say, ‘I don’t know, so let’s go look it up.’ Or I tell him to go look it up and tell me what he finds out.” She said that is one of the nice things that technology can help with.
Panelist Erin Stalsitz said, “What a great bonding opportunity to take a wonderful trip to the library where there probably is a child’s book that answers the daughter’s questions.”
Panelist Mike Ramsey said there may be questions that come up, such as how babies happen, that parents may need to find a nice way to deflect and move on: “Should mom just make things up? I wouldn’t suggest that, but she should have a four-year-old-appropriate answer in mind.’
In research the topic, panelist Pam Wallace found that 40 percent of parents make things up when they don’t know the answers.
Panelist Erica Carter spoke against making things up because children get information from many different sources: “She [the daughter] may already have gotten some answer from another source.”
Ramsey said his four-year-old also asks a lot of questions: “I give him a three-word answer, and that is sufficient. He moves on. That is what four-year-olds do.”
Stalsitz said that spending time now with the daughter answering her questions helps reinforce the attachment between mother and daughter: “It’s one way to help continue that relationship when the girl is 14.”
This week’s panel is: Pam Wallace, program coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Mike Ramsey, program supervisor, Valley Youth House; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Denise Continenza, extension educator; Erin Stalsitz, Lehigh Children & Youth, and Erica Carter, functional family therapy therapist.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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