My girlfriend is a Montessori teacher and she is continually supplying me with small bits of parenting wisdom – a kind, charitable neighbor leaving shreds of lettuce leaves on her patio for me, the boggled spring bunny.
Her most recent shred was not a leaf but an entire week’s worth of substance to chew on, and it was so practical and Eureka!ish that I needed to share with you right this moment.
If ever there were a phase of parenting that causes introverted parents to cringe in desperation, it is the “Why?” phase. Just last week, Bee and I were engrossed in a banter battle that would quickly consume the duration of our entire dinner:
Bee: Why do we mow grass?
Me: Because it gets too long.
Why does it get too long?
Because grass is a living thing; it grows and grows, like you and me.
Why does it grow?
Because it was created to!
Why was it created to?
And so, here is what my friend shares with me:
When a child asks “Why — ?” they actually mean “Tell me more about that.”
Bee didn’t want to know the philosophical inner workings of the universe; she just wanted to know more about grass. The trick is to get proactive – as soon as the first “Why” bomb is dropped, give a toddler your attention and explain everything you know about that particular subject.
I tested my friend’s theory yesterday and this is, no joke, what happened:
Bee: Why do we have to wear pants?
Me: Well, not everyone has to wear pants all the time. Sometimes we wear pants, other times we wear shorts, and sometimes skirts, but really we just have to be covered when we leave the house so we don’t get cold, or hot, or so we don’t sit in something that sticks to our skin, and also because we don’t live in a nudist colony, which is a place people don’t have to wear any clothes ever, ever, ever, unless they want to.
Bee: Whoa! I want to live in a noo-list codony!
And that was IT – she fluttered away to color in the other room. No more whys.
I was fascinated! I’ve been testing it on my friends’ kids, and it’s working like a charm so far. If you try it, let me know.
And toddler mamas/papas, I’d loooove to hear your tips, as well. Comment away!