4 Year Old Having Trouble with Answering Questions

Updated on October 11, 2010
C.R. asks from Rowlett, TX
5 answers

Have any of you had trouble with getting your 4 year old to answer a question?
My son will be turning 4 next week.
Example: When going over letters/numbers he can point to the number or letter if I ask him "Where is the number 5?" But if I point to the number 5 and ask him what number it is he gets all nervous and just locks up on me.
He does this when I ask him simple direct questions about anything. It's like he panics and gets all nervous like he is going to give me the wrong answer. This has been going on for several months and doesn't seem to be getting any better. I'm not sure how to handle the situation at all. Do I not require an answer and just back off? I really don't know what else to do.
It can be very frustrating for me when I just ask a simple question and he just sits there repeating the question or has gotten so upset that he's forgotten the question that he was asked.
Any suggestions?
Thanks for your help.

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So What Happened?

The problem is not just academic in nature. The letter/number question was just an example I gave. Another one would be: Are you finished with your dinner?
I want to help him feel more comfortable answering whether it be wrong or right. It seems so obvious to me now to just give him the right answer and move on. I guess the thing that had me puzzled was that I know he knows the answer and I wanted to know why he is unable to say it.
Thank you for your input ")

More Answers



answers from Phoenix on

This is typical for this age. If he hesitates, give him the answer. Once he's comfortable with the question, he won't have a problem at all. He's young and he will out grow this. Encourage him and help him out if he's stuck. Be positive and cheerful when asking questions. Good luck!! =)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

If it helps, children enter an "age of reason" at around age 6 or so. This doesn't mean they don't understand the question or know the answer, but I think quizzing kids often puts them on guard.

Sometimes little ones don't even know their own mind. I usually ask my son "Is your tummy full?" and if he doesn't answer, I gently remind him "Is your tummy full? Yes or no?" (he's three.) At other times, actions speak louder than words. If my son is getting down from the table at this point, I just remind him "If you are finished, you can clear your space. If you are still hungry, sit down and finish eating." Clear directions at this age are very helpful; they do the action instead of talking about it and we get the point.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You give one example of the type of question you ask. Are all your questions of an academic nature, or other things as well, like "What would you like to do now?" or "Will you help me find your red sweater?"

If you're asking for academic answers, then I'd say he is genuinely anxious about giving you the right answer, because (1) there is generally only one right answer, (2) he's a little young to have all those facts, letters, numbers, shapes, etc. sorted out and easily accessible, and (3) you apparently get frustrated if he doesn't get to the answer in time.

He's got a couple of years yet to start nailing down his ABC's and 123's. And some kids need more time for those activities – it's a matter of the development of various brain regions, which vary quite a bit from one child to another. Until then, keep whatever education you offer playful and light, so that he doesn't develop an aversion to academic learning.

For the next couple of years the best educational support you can give him is to encourage imaginative play that incorporates lots of language. A large vocabulary is the single best predictor of a child's success in school. He will develop a love of reading and arithmetic if you enjoy reading yourself and read with and to him often, and if you find games that incorporate the use of numbers and counting.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Don not make a big deal of it, it will make the situation worse, he'll get mor anxious. But when you ask him a question, give him time to answer but not too much time, then if he doesnt answer, say the answer for him and let him repeat after you. what is this number?............................can you say five?.......use a lot of praise of course. But I wouldn't work him at this too often. You don't want to put pressure on him and give him performance anxiety.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I disagree. I'd check with a pediatrician. Not normal. Catch the problem early.

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