Christine Koh

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I'm Christine Koh, a music and brain neuroscientist turned multimedia creative. I'm the founder + editor of Boston Mamas, co-author of Minimalist Parenting, co-host of the Edit Your Life podcast, and creative director at Women Online. Drop me a line; I'd love to chat about how we can work together!

Why Oh Why

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Kids often seem destined for a career in interrogation, what with all of their natural curiosity. Today, guest contributor Tracy writes about a tried and true trick to stop the “Why?” train once you’ve run out of answers. (Editor's Note: This technique proved effective during Laurel’s recent inquisition concerning: “Why does the man [Red Sox player] sometimes spit on the ground?”):

“One of my favorite parenting tips came from an older mama friend I worked with during graduate school. And by older, I mean that her kids were in college, and she was far removed from the 2-year-old dilemmas I faced. Her simple, stellar advice helped stop my second son’s “Why, Mommy?” marathon in its tracks.
The approach is simple. Answer a few why questions as best you can. After you’ve run out of sufficiently simplified answers, ask them a question about it. Stops ‘em in their tracks. Here’s a recent example:

Curious Toddler: Look at that red car, Mom!

Mom: Mm-hmm, that is a really red car.

CT: Why dat car red, Mom?

M: That’s what color paint they used at the factory.

CT: But why them use red paint?

M: Well, I guess they might have been making red cars that day. Or maybe someone ordered a red car to buy.

CT: Why someone ordered one?

M: Sometimes they don’t have the color you want at the car store, so you have to order it.

CT: (clearly confused; I realize I’ve dug my own hole, here.) Why?

M: Well…what color car would you like to have?

CT: Red!

And on it goes. This turn-the-tables technique seems to work with almost anything, although it’s important that the question posed asks their opinion about something they can easily answer, thus reducing frustration with what essentially amounts to mental distraction.

Note: Due to increasing sophistication, this trick stops working after a while with the school-age set. My older son recently responded with “I don’t know. That’s why I was asking you. Just give me some examples of why [insert topic here].” Sigh."


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