Why, why, why, why, why? My 3-year-old is definitely in "why" mode these days. You know what I'm talking about. "Let's put on your gloves!" "Why?" "Because it's cold outside." "Why?" "Because it's winter." "Why?" "Because that's the time of year it is." "Why, mommy?" <sigh> I have to be frank here. Usually, it's pretty cute. Sometimes, it's kind of annoying. I've forced myself to not say anything to him and let him keep asking and try to my best to answer most of his questions. I know it's a sign of an intense stage of curiosity that eventually I will be sad to see recede. But still I wonder - Why does he do that? How long will he do it? And why does it annoy me so much? I got some answers from Dr.Greene.com. Let's start with the last question: Why does it annoy me so much? Dr. Greene: "We’re frustrated for two reasons. Often we don’t know the real answers to the innocent questions they ask, but even when we do, our answers don’t slow the pace of their relentless questions. That’s because we’ve misunderstood their language and think that when they ask “why?” they mean the same thing we mean when we ask why. Our cause-and-effect answers miss the mark, and so they fail to satisfy." Okay, I see what you're saying, Dr. Greene. So what DO they mean when they ask why? "When children begin to learn real words, the words usually don’t correspond exactly to the way adults use them. Often a specific word is used to indicate an entire category or visa versa. “Dog” might mean any animal, while “meow” might mean “cat” — but only one cat. (...) by the time children are able to speak in sentences, it sounds deceptively like they mean the same thing we do. This happens at about the same time their curiosity, imagination, and creativity skyrocket." "After conversing with thousands of children, I’ve decided that what they really mean is, “That’s interesting to me. Let’s talk about that together. Tell me more, please?” When I’ve connected with children and begun to spin a tale to answer this question, they’ve sat enthralled. There was no need to mention because, or therefore, or cause, or effect. They don’t need to know why, all they need is animated attention and me saying whatever came to mind about that subject. After a brief interchange, we were both happy." Actually, that is really helpful! I had no idea that what he wanted was not my "Because" answer, but rather just to chat about what was going on. That does take the load of a little bit, doesn't it? So what happens to "why?" as they get older? "This communication dance doesn’t end with the “why” phase of development. As children grow, their communication skills become more refined, and it is often more difficult to hear the “That’s interesting to me. Let’s talk about that together,” underneath the surface. As we look for the invitation into our children’s lives and relate to them at their level of interest, we’ll find countless opportunities to engage with them. This communication dance is not an easy one. Every time we learn the steps, they seem to develop a new set of moves. So, what does “Mom, can I borrow the keys to the car?” really mean? :-)" Oh boy, that I CAN wait for - maybe we should just stick to "Why Why Why, Mommy?" for now!