Quelling the Why: Explaining Decisions to Children {guest post}

In the interest of cutting myself a little slack, I was thrilled when Rachel approached me about doing a guest post. I've seen her posts on other blogs before and they were right up my alley. This is no exception. While Gwen is coming out of the "why" stage now, it is not far behind us. I never wanted to say "just because" as an answer, I always wanted her to ask if she was curious about something, but when you are dealing with many "whys" in a row, its hard not to get frustrated. Here are a few simple steps from Rachel for dealing with those why questions. 

Children are sponges absorbing every bit of information they can. He or she may not be able to comprehend specific aspects of life, but that won't stop them from asking; "why?" Many parents rely on the age old expression, "because I said so." Unfortunately, that has very little chance of putting an end to the topic in the future. Why should it be important to explain decisions to your children?

1. Logistics - Contrary to the belief of many, children can be extremely logical in their processing of information. If a child asks why they can't have the second helping of dessert, why not tell them the truth? "Because I am afraid you'll get a stomach ache from it" is an alternative that allows them to process the information provided. Now, they don't need to ask "why" regarding the dessert. They may ask why concerning the stomach ache. Follow each question with a logical explanation explained as clearly as possible. If you eventually come to a question you can't answer, "I don't know, sweetheart" puts an end to the interrogation.

2. Secrecy - When you don't answer a question with intent to provide information, you could make the child think that the answer is some kind of adult secret. This can create a curiosity in your child worse than it had been previously. In extreme cases, it could make a child feel like they are unworthy of an answer. This frame of mind doesn't happen often, but it has led to problematic developments in younger children. It's the match that lights a flame of discontent as they could read too much into the answer.

3. Understanding - Children are more understanding than what many parents give them credit for. While specifics may be over their heads, concise explanations can be mulled over in his or her mind. You may think that they will never understand the true answer, but you'll never know unless you provide them with one. You may be stunned when they seem to know more about a topic than you ever realized. At which point, the doors to communication become wide open and you can share with your child.

4. Promoting Development - By answering questions honestly and truthfully, you are being a role model that demonstrates these qualities as an important aspect of life. You are also providing information they may use at a later date, which can further promoting the child's growth. Children can retain a great deal of information provided you give it to them to reflect on. My six-year old daughter can explain to anyone the several theories revolving around why the dinosaurs are extinct. It was a question she asked as books and teachers provided several plausible theories.

5. Discovering the Answer - For those questions you can't seem to answer because you don't know, why not spend the time discovering the truth with your child? Google is a great resource to find answers to just about any question you can think of. Take an hour of your day with your child and spend time looking up facts.

While you don't have to explain every decision you make, those that concern the children are easier to answer than what you may realize. You shouldn't rely on "because" to be your retort to "why." Provide them with the answer and allow them to do what they will with the information.

Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.


  1. Love this post. It really makes you think!

  2. Great post! Very interesting points. Thanks!


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