The first question I remember asking as a child was “What does ‘stout’ mean?” I had learned the song “I’m a Little Teapot” in kindergarten and one of the lines included the words “short and stout”.
Whoever answered that question did it cheerfully, and I remember I went on to ask many more.
Inquisitive children are usually very bright and ask questions because they do notice things they don’t understand in the world around them. It’s a trait to nurture. I remember being told at times that I asked too many questions, but at least 80% of the time, my questions got satisfying answers.
I spent much of my adult life teaching school. The children who did ask intelligent questions were my favorite. Teachers are even taught to ask “Are there any questions?” after giving an assignment. Even the children who asked silly questions, like, “Do I have to write down the answers?” gave me a glimpse into their personality.
When children ask questions and when their questions are answered, the adults around them have more of an understanding about the children. You know what they are thinking about and most of all, you know what they don’t know, and it helps you guide them.
So, talk to your children, and most of all, let them talk to you and listen to what they are saying.
One of my pet peeves is to hear a child in a store saying over and over, “Mama, mama, mama, mama,” to a mother who obviously is fine ignoring her child. I know every word that comes out of a child’s mouth is not a golden gem, but many of them are, and they get missed when adults don’t take the time to listen.
You can develop a signal with your child, if you truly have to scan your cellphone, or are listening to a message, or for whatever activity prevents you from being able to listen to what your child so desperately wants to tell you. You can hold up your hand like a policeman when he stops traffic, and let your child know you are busy, but in a minute or two, you will ask “what?” so s/he can tell you what is pressing so much on his/her mind. But with that signal comes the responsibility of being sure you do listen in a minute or two to see what your child wants to say to you.
Children grow up so quickly. When you’re in the middle of their childhoods, you don’t realize it. But one day you look up, and the inquisitive child who wanted to talk to you has grown into a teenager, who all too frequently, doesn’t.