4 Year Old Asks "Why" Non Stop

Updated on September 08, 2010
S.M. asks from Saginaw, MI
18 answers

Don't get me wrong, I love the little girl and want her to be smart and I know asking questions is the only way to learn. However, I am starting to loose my mind. She asks the question "why" no less than 5 times a minute. Sometimes she is asking for legitimate information but other times it seems that the questions are just non sense. For example "Why are you drinking water" because I'm thirsty, "why" because it's hot outside and when it's hot I get more thirsty "why".....this can go on and on and on until I'm ready to explode. I never loose my temper and I always try to answer her questions but is there any way I can get her to cut back a bit on the "why"s? Half the time when she's asking a question she doesn't even listen to or care about the answer. Is she just loving to hear her own voice? Sometimes she asks me why and I tell her only to have her ask again seconds later.

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So What Happened?

Good advice. I answered her last why question with a "why do you think" and she answered her own question. Then I replied "See you don't need to ask me, you already know, you're so smart!"

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answers from Detroit on

My son was my why child, and after awhile, just for fun, I would give him silly answers to some of his questions. He is now 22, and the biggest smart aleck with a great sense of humor.
I know this isn't very helpful, but I still say I made him this way because of it LOL



answers from Erie on

I agree it's developmental but i bet she just wants some interaction with you. try engaging her in a conversation. why are you drinking water? I'm thirsty because it's so hot, then ask her what do you like to drink best when it's hot? etc. Positive attention will go a long way, if you send 5 mins with her talking and showing her love, my guess is she'll be satisfied adn leave you alone for the next 30 mins.

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answers from Laredo on

I agree with the comment below, my son just turned four and he has been on the "whys" non stop for the past couple months. So I started asking him "why do you think" when it came to times that he was being serious about wanting to know the answer but I also turned it around on him and started asking him why when he would ask me why just to hear himself. Such as "M. can we go to the movies?" and I ask him why when he answers I ask him why again. He actually told me that I was frustrating him and the "why" questions like "why are you drinking water" have slowed down.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

My M. was a teacher for 25+ years, and once attended a child development seminar where this question was addressed. The answer totally fascinated me, and has taken the frustration out of "WHY?" for me. Here is what the speaker said:

Children, even up to age 20, have brains that are not fully developed yet. They DO hear your answer, and they DO understand it, however the half of their brain that has the question isn't communicating to the half of the brain that heard you say the answer. So the advice is, keep repeating your answer using the EXACT SAME WORDS, OVER AND OVER AND OVER. For instance, your daughter: "Why are you drinking water?" You: "Because I'm thirsty." Daughter: "Why?" You: "Because I'm thirsty." Daughter: "How come you're drinking water?" You: "Because I'm thirsty." At some point the answer will sink in, but it could take 5 minutes for it to do so. It's a brain development thing, and it's totally normal. Your daughter is probably NOT actually looking for the reason you're thirsty (i.e. it's hot out), she probably just never processed your answer of "Because I'm thirsty." So by giving a new and different answer, you are actually dragging it out longer. This was like an epiphany for me when I heard it - she does not love the sound of her own voice, she just forgot that she already got an answer to her question. Keep repeating yourself. =) Good stuff, huh?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Little Rock on

It is just a stage. Two of mine have been through it already and I have one to go. I agree with Laurie. You don't have to answer them all. I would only answer the important ones and just brush off the rest by turning to back to a question to her.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

"hmm why do YOU think..." my question mark is broken but you get the idea lol. turn it around and get her using her brain instead of yours!

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answers from Honolulu on

My son is 3, almost 4.... and he's been doing that since he turned 3.
Its a phase... it ebbs and flows....
you don't really have to 'answer' each and every single question.
What I do as well is I tell my son "What do YOU think?" or, "What do you think is the answer?", or "How many reasons can YOU think of???"
Then that gets him distracted and onto creative thinking and deduction... which is a good 'skill' for kids.... thinking outside of the box....

It is all developmental based... they do this, at a certain age. It is normal.
Its good... because, if she did not go through this developmental stage.. then, that is something you'd need to worry about.

all the best,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I'm late on this but its a way to keep a conversation/interaction going. Little kids don't know the fine art of conversing so they use the only way they know to keep you talking to them. After answering once, answering with a question back to them keeps the conversation going without driving you totally crazy. Maybe it will also teach her to be a better conversationalist.
And it's a stage. All three of mine did it. And yes, sometimes I think they do just want to hear their voices.....
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

You do not have to answer every question. Answer the questions that have meaning.

When she asks... "Why are you drinking water?"
I would ask, "why do you think I am drinking it?".. "Why do you want to know?"." What difference does it make?" "Why do YOU drink water?" Pick one response. Not in an angry voice, but more like teasing.

Remind her it is bad manners to ask a question but then not listen to the answers.

It sounds more like she wants your attention. Maybe she does not know other was to have a conversation. Try to divert her energies to something else.. It also sounds like a habit.

Does she have friends she gets to play with? She sounds a little lonely too.
If she had little playmates, they would have conversations.. Maybe change the subject to something else.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Hi S.,
You don't need to answer every question. You can try giving her WHY cards, 3 per hour and she has to hand one in before asking a why question.
My son has a friend who overdoes WHY, and he is 10. He will ask "why" over the most ridiculous things, like "Why is there a piece of paper on the table?" or "Why is the cat playing with a ball?" When he asks a ridiculous question, I point out that there is not a question to be asked here. You can also turn it around on your daughter - "Why are you drinking water?" "Why do you think?" "Because you're thirsty?" "Yes, and since you knew that, there was no need to ask." They get stuck in the WHY rut and aren't using their filter to figure out what they need to ask about and what they don't. It's like they don't know what else to do with themselves. Point out when she is asking a WHY about something that simply doesn't merit a question or explanation..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It must be a girl thing because my roomie had a 3 yr. old that did the same thing...especially when I was this-had-to-be-done-3-days-ago busy. I can remember asking why a lot when I was a toddler and it probably did the same thing to my family but I did listen to their answer. I attempted to explain to a 3 year old that the best way to learn is to watch and listen. She asked why. Really. I began to wonder if it was just because she LIKED exasperating adults or maybe just a ploy for extra attention...boredom. Maybe more daily activities will curb the thinking too much "why" syndrome. If you find an answer, let me know.



answers from Detroit on

When my kids "why" us, my husband and I generally take one of three routes:

Information - a short answer the first time, and if they ask again a MUCH longer one. For example - "Why am I drinking water? Well, when it's hot outside it causes your body to heat up, which makes you sweat and evaporate water from your body. It is important for your body to have plenty of water so that it can function properly. Without water your brain and other organs can't work right, and that can make you feel sick, dizzy, tired, or worse. You should always be sure to drink plenty of fluids when it's warm!" Honestly, I could probably even go on from there depending on which child is asking and on the question count. I've even made the child sit and look something up with me (and older children look up pertinent words in the dictionary).

"Why is there a piece of paper on the table?" Well, my answer is usually something like. "Why do you think there's a piece of paper on the table?" (to which I generally get an "I don't know") So I toss in a "Do you need to know? Is this piece of paper likely to very important to you (and if it was wouldn't you then know about the paper already)?" (usually I get a no or a not really) "Well then!" I say, "Just accept that it's there and don't worry about it" :)

Or, I simply point out that while I never mind answering legitimate questions, I DO mind being bothered with superfluous questions. Sometimes I will walk them through the logic process:
Child "Why is that piece of paper on the table"
Me: Did you just hear me say that I was leaving a note for Dad, letting him know we're going to the store?
Child: Yes
Me: Then why are you asking me? You already know the answer. I don't mind answering your questions. But, I DO mind when you haven't even tried to use your own mind to figure it out. Think about what you know, and try to figure it out before you ask. If you can't then fine, ask me - I'm glad to help - but you do need to try to answer your own questions first. I won't always be there to tell you things, and you have to learn to figure the answers out on your own.



answers from Detroit on

A wise mother & teacher taught me to say, in a thoughtful voice, "I wonder?" This consideration "I wonder" ALWAYS brought gentle reconsideration from the child. ALso important, to NOT really make a bunch of commentary on her reply.

Great books to help are "You are your child's first teacher" by Baldwin, a fabulous NEW book called "Simplicity Parenting" by Payne, or "Becoming the Parent you want to be" by Davis.



answers from Redding on

I think all little kids do this. And, they seem to get in a habit of it.
If my kids asked me a ridiculous why question, I just said, "Why not?"
Or, I'd say, "Why are you asking me that? Why do you ask why so many times?"
They never had an answer.
You don't have to answer each and every question.
Answer WITH a question.
"Why are you 4 years old? Why are you 36 inches tall? Why are you wearing that shirt today?"
I just why'd my kids right back and they got the picture.
Some why questions are legitimate and fine, but other ones are just annoying.
Why are you drinking water?
Why are you asking me that question?

Like I said, they usually don't even know why they are asking and questioning them back usually gets the point across.

Best wishes!



answers from Detroit on

Try one of these....."Just because" "Because I said so", "That's how God wants it", "Why not?", "I don't know" "Why do YOU think?", They ALL do it....this will pass...before you know it she won't want to talk to you at all...savor it!



answers from Albuquerque on

My 3 year old boy is a why guy too. I usually respond as best I can, but sometimes I just don't know why some random stranger on the street is doing whatever he is doing. What gets me is when I respond, "I don't know," my son cries and says, "Yes you do Mama! You do know!" I have tried asking him what he thinks, but he doesn't go for that. I often end up speculating about why that guy is doing whatever it is he is doing. It doesn't really bother me too much, but the yes you know mama thing is a bit disconcerting. Interesting responses - particularly about brain development.


answers from Milwaukee on

Someone asked something similar a few days ago... it was for her 2 year old but about the "why" questions... here is a link to that:




answers from Kalamazoo on

You might want to answer a bit differently sometimes. Like about the water, she might want to know why the water quenches your thirst. (my 3.5 year old is getting more and more interested in how things work and the why's are getting more and more too!). Sometimes I ask for clarification, do you want to know why its this, or that? Sometimes they don't know another way to phrase a question too, with the limit to their vocabulary. Be patient, she's just learning and curious, and doesn't grasp when she's reached the limit of her questions, she wonders if there is more to find out if she keeps asking.

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