Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Little Inquisitive Minds

From the Moment a Child Learns to Talk, Parents will have to be Prepared to Answer lots of Questions

By Anna Tham

Have you ever had a child ceaselessly asking “why” or “how” to everything you tell him, or about anything that piqued his curiosity?

Parents of young ones who have started to talk can attest to the fact that they are indeed a curious bunch. And sometimes their questions border on the abstract and complex!

But what used to drive me up the wall (and sometimes still does) was my daughter adding questions to my answers, and the question-and-answer yo-yo could continue to great lengths, worthy of a mini series!

One morning, on the way to school, she got into one of her thoughtful moments and asked: “Mum, how did God make humans?”

I thought I had at least a year more to talk to her about that, or at least when she turns 35, before having to explain all about the birds and the bees!

As expected, a simple answer of “spiritual powers” was not sufficient. It was a test of my Biblical knowledge and ability to provide good answers while negotiating the morning traffic.

After several questions and answers on that topic, we approached the school gate. My mind was ready to say “goodbye, be good at school” when it was stalled by another question.

“How do sweets make you sick?” Thankfully, my reply somewhat satisfied her, and she got out with backpack and waved goodbye.

As a parent, I sometimes feel like I am back in school again, learning and re-learning lots of things – time and people management, negotiation, making a convincing sales pitch, training, motivation, psychology, health, nutrition, medicine, etc.

We could be specialists in certain areas but we still need to be jack-of-all-trades.

Handling children’s questions is certainly no easy task. How you approach and answer their questions contributes to their overall emotional and mental development and well-being.

We need to give some thought to the possible reasons why the child is asking the question or his/her motive for it, in order for our response to be meaningful. That way, we can provide the child with the appropriate knowledge and even to impart certain values.

We could turn it into an opportunity to learn together, to explore the Internet, books or encyclopedia in search of the answer, if the question relates to something factual.

What is important is that we are honest with our children, even in times when we do not know the answer.

Help them feel comfortable in knowing that you want to help them. Keep the answers simple, age-appropriate and make sure they understand.

Do not avoid answering their questions or attempt to brush them off. They would only feel discouraged or think that it is not right to be inquisitive.

In this aspect, I see the teacher’s role in the classroom as critical too, more so if the education system weighs so much on rote learning, conformity, and discipline.

We all want our children to grow up not only knowledgeable but also confident, able to think independently and speak up when necessary.

Bringing up children
Tuesday April 22, 2008

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