From "Why do I have to do this?" to "What is masturbation?" kids start to toss challenging questions our way at an early age. How should you deal with the ones they might be too young to understand? Or that you're uncomfortable answering?
I try to be honest with my son about everything, but I don't want to give him information he has no place to file. I grew up in a fairly tight-lipped household in which my curiosity was not exactly encouraged, so I am reactive in the other direction, perhaps sometimes giving my son too much information.
Questions About Bodies and Sex
Rebekah G. says she answered the breast question with ease, telling her four-year-old that "women have breasts so they can feed their babies." This seems to me to be a good, if partial, response. And "partial" might be the ticket to navigating your child's questions gracefully. The same questions will, no doubt, come up again when your son or daughter is ready to hear more.
Most experts agree that the direct approach is the healthiest way to answer the perennial question of where babies come from and how they get out of their mothers' bellies. Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Iowa, suggests that "the best approach is an honest one that doesn't try to offer a college course in human reproduction in one session."
Questions about topics like masturbation make some parents uncomfortable. But the language we use to discuss this with our preschoolers will influence they views as they become increasingly aware of their own bodies. I tend to agree with Circle of Moms member Gayle S., who says, "It's never too early to talk with your child about his body. Never make him feel as though he is doing something wrong.... and explain that what he is feeling is perfectly normal."
Questions About People Who Look Different
Another category of difficult questions altogether is disabilities. How do you explain to a young child why someone is missing a hand, for example? Again, honesty seems to be the best policy. Child psychologist Penelope Leach argues that children see so much variety in the world every day that they tend to accept what they see, unless someone they trust indicates that something's wrong: "Three to four-year-olds can't be sure that there aren't people in the world who only ever have one arm. There are people who have glasses, or are very tall, or have different skin. Why shouldn't there be people in the world who have a different number of arms?"
When Is It Too Much Information?
As many Circle of Moms members note, there are some questions your child may not be ready to hear the answers to—and some you might not be willing or able to answer. Circle of Moms member Sarah B. has a creative approach she learned from Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place. The author asked her father a question he didn't feel she was ready to know more about, and her father responded by asking her to pick up a suitcase that was much too heavy for her to carry, and told her, "This suitcase is much like your question ..... Some information is too heavy for you as well. I'll carry the answer with me until you are able to carry it with ease."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.