The Threat Of A Million WHY’s



”Stop throwing food.” – “Why?”
“You can’t go across the street.” – “Why?”
”No, you can’t have knives.” – “Why?”
“Don’t hit your sister.” – “Why?”
If you had to look after children (yours or others’), you recognise the scenario that has millions of parents pull their hair, sigh to the point of crying and desperately pray for the avalanche of questions to stop.
Spend one week questioned like a suspect in interrogation, having every move you make and everything you say met with the same ominous WHY, and you’ll get there.
Fortunately, with time, children discover there are other questions worth asking as well: WHAT, HOW, and WHAT IF.
Although these four questions help us learn and make sense of the world, gradually, we tend to prioritise one or two of them, and this will determine our preferred style of learning.
Style 1 – the WHY learners
They want to know why they should care –  why do this now, why it is important, what’s in it for them. They are focused on values and making connections and might not move to take action if they don’t get satisfactory answers.
Style 2 – the WHAT learners
They are analytic, like information, seeking facts and details, evaluating and formulating ideas. They need step-by-step processes and prefer working with people who come prepared.
Style 3 – the HOW learners
They want to see the relationships and connections between the new information and the bigger picture. They like learning by doing and tinkering. They are happiest experimenting, building and creating something useful.
Style 4 – the WHAT IF learners
They are continually exploring possibilities, learning by trial and error and self-discovery. They want to know why something it’s done a certain way and want to find better alternatives. They seem to have a hard time staying on topic, but they need to roll the possibilities in their heads to come up with creative solutions.
Irrespective of how we learn and how much it drives parents mad, curiosity is an incredible asset to preserve from childhood.
– it makes learning effortless and more fun because we remember easier what interests us
– it creates new options when, instead of blindly accepting what others say it’s possible, we decide to explore other venues
– it can get us moving when we feel stuck in frustration and despair.
So cherish it and encourage it, – in yourself and your children -, because it keeps us growing, creating and pushing beyond boundaries and limitations.
PS: Apparently, the magic lifesaver if you’re tired of answering the million why’s (and don’t want to resort to “Because I said so”), is asking back calmly and playfully:
 “You tell me why.”
And wait for them to come up with an explanation.


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