It’s the endless barrage of questions that can drive you nuts as a parent. The why’s and the how come’s and the what if’s. The question at just the wrong time because, can’t they see you’re on the phone and cooking dinner and someone just rang the doorbell?

Sometimes we don’t want to answer the question at all, while other times we want to talk about the answer at a different time and place. I’ve taken to asking my kids to google the answers which may not be the most responsible parenting decision for lots of reasons. “Thank you for coming to me because you trust me, now go ask a bunch of strangers who could care less about your reaction.”

Answering the question asked is a simple mantra that I try to keep foremost in my repertoire because it’s good commonsense parenting. Here are five things to consider when Answering the Question Asked.

1. Focus on the information you are going to give out

With this mantra, you want to stay tight and focused on answering just what they’ve asked. What’s for dinner? Hamburgers and salad. That’s the simple way to explain this. You might be surprised to learn that I’ve heard answers to that question take on epic proportions. Every question is not a time to tell your child everything you might be sick of doing, like making dinner every night. Most children aren’t looking to uncover the mysteries of life. They just want to know what’s up.

2. Give a response instead of an answer

Anytime a person returns communication it is called a response or a reply, while an answer is a form of response which is a solution to a problem or question. If you can’t answer it truthfully yet, than give them a response. For example, “That’s a great question but I’m not sure what the answer is. How bout we talk about it after dinner tonight?” Make sure you follow through with what you promised!

3. Listen to how the question is being asked

It is important to listen to all parts of a question before drawing premature conclusions about your ‘best’ answer. Frequently questions can change direction at the last moment, particularly if your child has not put a lot of thought into the question. This can throw you if you have already started to consider your mental rolodex for the appropriate response. Many times children are asking a question so that they can tell you about something they think. If you let the questioner continue along the train of thought, you may be able to discover there really is no question. No, I’m not kidding. Sometimes they just want to hear themselves talk or they talk to think.

4. Clarify for a better understanding of what or why your child is asking

If you are worried that you haven’t understood a question, clarify the question before going any further. Try paraphrasing the question back to your child, “You want me to explain how to make the water warm for the shower?” or check that your reply will be heading in the right direction “Do you mean you want to understand your book better or that you want to read a different book?”

5. Communicate your answer and involve your child in active participation

All too often we forget that people need to actively take in information before they can make the answer be a part of their experience. Kids have a habit of asking questions and then tuning out. This is frustrating because then you have to answer the question more than once or explain it further. Teaching kids to actively listen is helpful in controlling yourself from going overboard with information.
When you take the time to Answer the Question Asked, you may find three things. One, that your kids are more engaged. Two, they take more ownership which is huge. And three, they learn more from your answers.