(Check out Rocks in my Dryer for more parenting WFMW tips.)
I shared my tips for dealing with kid questions a couple months ago, and wanted to give a bit of an update, having written about those things as I was only beginning to use them.
I’m a believer. These are tips that still work for my kids.
More than anything else, turning the questions back to them when I don’t have an easy answer (or when I know they know the answer) has been an awesome tactic.
It’s taken on a new life too, because it’s sort-of “taught” them to create a segue to change the subject (Hey, I’m still learning how to do that graciously) and now the girls will ask a question when they want to talk about a topic. Great skill to practice, especially starting so young.
For a while now (I’ve been sick and tired– read: thinking slower– these last three weeks or so) they’ve been asking questions and been ready and waiting with whatever it was they want to say.
When I’m too tired to answer and ask them, “What do you think?” they dive right in, eager and delighted for the opening.
It really is nice, this moving into a feeling of “real” conversation. Maybe embryonic conversation, at times.
Now if we could only find a way to get them to drop their “place-holding” sounds (uh-ah-um-um-ah) while they’re thinking what exactly they want to say…
It’s really hard to say “take as long as you need” when you know the long-as-you-need will be entirely filled with that increasingly frantic noise.
Sometimes it seems related to the impulse to speak louder when someone doesn’t understand your language. When they feel they’re not being understood they try to hold the floor longer and get louder and louder as they search for the missing information.
In those times I always feel torn between my impulse to supply the word and the advice that says children need to struggle in order to learn how to think for themselves.
Just now I’m trying to remember a 7-second rule. It runs that many children (thinking more slowly than adults, as they have less-experienced minds) require up to 7-seconds to make some connections.
If I give her that long she usually comes up with what she needs. If she hasn’t got the word(s) by then, hearing them is a relief.