Why, Why, Why? Entering The Toddler Question Phase

Toddler L has recently hit the question phase. Pretty much everything she says is some kind of question. Whether it’s enquiring about the world around her, questioning our authority or just being annoying, “why” has very quickly made it to the top of her favourite words list. In fact, I’d hazard a guess at it being one of her most used words despite the fact that she’s only recently discovered it and has been able to talk for a year and a half.

This is fantastic from a development perspective, but it does make me want to continually smack my head against a brick wall until it’s covered in blood, hair, scull and brain tissue. I love the fact that she’s inquisitive, but surely she doesn’t need to be so curious every second she’s awake? I have no issue attempting to quench her thirst for knowledge, but there’s only so much I can take. And, let’s be fair, only so much I actually know.

I’ve not counted, but she asks A LOT of questions. Although it’s a few years old, a survey in 2013 found that kids ask an average of 300 questions per day. 300 bloody questions! Assuming that a kid is awake for 12 hours each day, that’s like one question every 2.5 minutes. I tell you, it feels more like every 2.5 seconds though. What’s more, the same survey found that 4-year-old girls ask the most questions – a whopping 390 per day. Oh how I can’t wait for 2018 when L hits that age…

After a particularly strenuous toddler Q&A session the other day, I realised that it felt like I’d been entered onto a quiz show without my consent. It’s not like a normal quiz show you’ll have seen on TV though. There’s no fancy chair, there’s no mood lighting, there’s no suspense-inducing music and there’s certainly no chance of winning big money. Instead, it’s more akin to those sadistic Japanese game shows where the only reward is knowing that you made it to the end credits in one piece – something I struggle with each day.

Why Why Why entering the toddler question phase photoshopped who wants to be a millionaire

The last thing I want to do is stifle her curiosity. In fact, that’s something I’d love to help her embrace. However, when she’s asking questions that don’t make sense or don’t really have an answer – plus when the topic is pretty mundane – it’s difficult not to get a little frustrated. In fact, I should add it as an event at my inaugural Parenting Olympic Games. Here’s a conversation that we had the other day about gates. Yes, really.

Toddler L: “What’s that?”

Me: “A gate.”

Toddler L: “Why’s there gate?”

Me: “It belongs to the house. It might be to keep things in or out. A bit like a door. They might have a dog or something.”

Toddler L: “Why they have gate?”

Me: “I’ve just said. Some people just have a gate on their house. It might make them feel safer or stop their doggy running away.”

Toddler L: “Why that house not got gate?”

Me: “Not sure. I guess they just don’t want one.”

Toddler L: “Why, Daddy?”

Me: “I dunno. Maybe they don’t like gates. Maybe they decided to spend their money on something else. Contraception, perhaps.”

Toddler L: “Why?”

Me: *Silence*

Toddler L: “Why? What’s that, Daddy?”

Me: “That’s a window”.

Toddler L: “Why?”

Me: “AAAAAAAAAAH.”

I think the exchange highlights a few things. (1) You will never win, (2) it’s important to try to answer questions properly as your kid is genuinely inquisitive, (3) silence does nothing but invite further questioning, (4) you can have a bit of fun with your answers as long as they don’t understand the word(s) you’re using, and (5) you’ll have to find creative ways to answer the same question again and again in slightly different ways. Oh, and (6) gates are very boring.

Of course, it’s not all bad. As I say, seeing her little brain and mind develop is incredible, particularly things like her imagination. Watching her take in a new situation, ask what it’s about, then process the answer is remarkable. What’s more, she’ll then often remember and repeat back what I’ve said at a later time, which just goes to show how brilliant the toddler mind can be. She needs to work on her timing a bit though…

How did you handle the toddler question phase? Does it get better / more bearable as they get older? How do you deal with incessant questions every minute of the day? Let me know below!