Death, love, Santa Claus, homosexuality… children are very good at asking embarrassing questions!
A child is like a blank page, curious about everything, greedy for learning, impatient in front of his ignorance. In a period of his life, questions are linked up at a wild rhythm. Essential, often existential, these questionings make of your toddler a young philosopher unknown to him. When they are related to sensitive subjects, it baffles you. Nevertheless it is necessary to answer them. He is right to be curious!
As early as two and a half years
As soon as the child knows how to express himself, he does not hesitate to ask all the questions which cross his mind. It is the period of the “why” and “how”. Very young, he tries to draw the attention of the adult next to him. “Why do you do this?”, “why do you take that?”: he questions him about his slightest actions. By this untimely questioning, the child tries, above all, to participate in the activities of this grown-up with whom he identifies himself. To find out the intentions of the adult is not his priority.
From three and a half years
Then, it’s the turn of the “real” why. Those who ask existential questions, in search of a dive in the center of the universe. In this way, the child seeks with passion to verify the ideas that he built up himself thanks to his poetic and imaginary side. Sometimes an exhausting period for the parents and the educators …
Why to answer it?
In answer to his doubts, his fears or his simple thoughts, the child needs explanations. It is the duty of the dad and the mom.
Every question deserves an answer. To leave your child alone with his questioning risks to destabilize him. He counts on you, his dad and his mom, to enlighten him. Indeed, for the young children, the adults know everything and are never wrong. If you avoid a question, he can believe that some subjects cannot be discussed or must be hidden from him.
To help him to move on
By all his questions, your child is looking for a meaning of things which surround him. Even if the revealed reality can cause him suffering and disappointment, it will reassure him and will allow him to forge ahead. The child asks questions in a naive way, he does not pass any judgment, everything seems logical to him. The answer to his question is far more important than his disappointment in front of the truth. It will only reinforce his confidence in the adults.
So go ahead! On the sensitive subject of death, do not be tempted by the shameless lie like “No, I shall not die”, no pirouette either: “Yes but the latest as possible”. With such (false) answers, your child will ask himself even more questions: “Can we decide to die? Why mom will not die while the one of my friend already died?… “. And as he will not have been satisfied by the first answer, he will not dare to ask you any more of his new questions…
Know how to answer
The questions of the children are surprising, embarrassing … But don’t panic! All you have to do is answer in the simplest way possible.
With what words?
The questions of your toddler can seem harsh to you! It is normal, they are spontaneous, composed without distinctions of what can be embarrassing or not. So, when he talks to you about sexuality or about poverty, answer naturally. And especially without any embarrassment! The truth does not shock if it is naturally said. Your child is only expecting a clear, frank and complete answer. He asks for science and sense, not technique. If you remain too evasive, he will come out with his own interpretation… sometimes far away from the message you wanted to pass on!
The most frequent questions.
All the children are identical in their discovery of the world: certain questions are recurring. Some examples of answers for you to be prepared…
How do we make babies?
This question has essentially for origin the concern of your child as for its presence on Earth.
To say that children are born in cabbages or that they are brought by storks in their bed, is a little bit out of date. You do not need to rack your brains. The truth is very easy to explain: “a small seed was deposited by the dad in the belly of the mom. This seed meets then an egg. From this egg, a small human being develops. And nine months later, a baby comes out from the belly of the mother”.
You can take advantage of this to explain why we make babies. This way your child will be reassured about the reason of his existence. “The parents love each other so much that they want to give life, to create a family and to make happy their child.”
What does “making love” means?
What your child is trying to find out, above all, is if his dad and mom love each other very much. You must be explicit in your answer. But it does not mean going into technical explanations. “We do not make love with whoever. Only parents and persons in love can make it. To make love, it is to give and to receive special cuddles”. Naturally, the child looks for no explanation on the sexual relations, which he would have a great deal of difficulty in imagining.
Why does Mike have two moms?
Your child is a little embarrassed if you have already explained to him how a dad and a mom make a baby… Here, before speaking about adoption, it is necessary to speak about homosexuality. “It can happen that two persons of the same sex love each other. They can form a real couple, as a man and a woman”. It is necessary to insist on the notion of love, which is the base of any relation.
Dad and you, are you going to die one day?
If your child asks this question, it is because he is afraid of be left alone on Earth. Death in itself does not frighten him. He will understand that it is the logic of life. If you are not anxious, your child will not be either. “Yes, everybody dies one day; it is the cycle of life. But do not worry, you will not be alone, you will grow up and you will have a family and children. And if that has to happen soon, you will always have your dad (or your mom), your grandparents or your uncles and aunts to take care of you”.
Someone who is ugly, can he ever be loved by anyone?
For the young children, the notion of beautiful is often bound with the notion of good. On the contrary, the ugly is the reflection of the evil, as the nasty witches he saw in books.
Explain to him that “every individual is different. That can be by the size, the color of the hair, or even by a handicap. But the physical characteristics, the appearance, have nothing to do with the inside, what is in the heart. Thus nobody can say about someone that he is nasty without knowing him first”.
When is tomorrow?
It is not before the age of six and a half, on average, that the children are able to understand the chronology of events. This is explained by the fact that he often reasons the opposite way with reality. For example: “she is sad because she is crying”.
To explain to your child the notions of time, you will have to help him to find marks by practical indications on his activities. “Tomorrow, it is when you will be lying and when you will have slept. When you will wake up and when it will be daylight that will be tomorrow”. The same way, when he asks you if it is morning or afternoon, ask him if he already had lunch!
Does Santa Claus exist?
Especially between two years and five years, children are impregnated with magic. Generally, your toddler will ask you this famous question because his little playmates are sowing doubt in him. It belongs to you to judge what to tell him. But would it not be a pity to retrieve this part of magic from him? And it pleases so much the adults too. Then you can rather opt for diplomacy: “Some people believe in him, others don’t. It is up to you to think if he exists or not”. In that case, he will probably prefer the imagination, because the child privileges the faith in his wishes. On the other hand, if he is already convinced that Santa Claus does not exist, you can accompany him like Françoise Dolto (famous psychoanalyst) did it with his son: “Santa Claus, had no daddy and mommy. He is not alive, he is only alive at the time of Christmas, in the heart of all those who want to make a surprise to celebrate the children. The real Santa Claus, he is true only in our heart”.