More Answers to "Why?" Questions
6- Why Do Grown-Ups Sometimes Cry When They're Happy?
Tell your kid People may feel something so strongly that they just have to let it out. When kids feel happy they usually jump up and down or yell, but grown-ups have more complicated emotions -- and when we're really happy, we can also be just a little sad at the same time. Sometimes for adults, crying just happens.
What you should know When you cry out of happiness, it's usually because something feels bittersweet, like your kid's first day of kindergarten (you're so proud -- but she's growing up so fast!). Kids don't have the same range of emotions, so this concept can baffle them, Dr. Sanghavi says. Use this conversation to encourage your kid to express feelings in words. Emphasize that crying is okay -- but it's important to say what's wrong. "Understanding why you have a particular emotional response will also help your child become more sensitive to others' feelings," he adds. So tell your child that if she ever sees you crying, she can ask if it's because you're happy or sad.
7- Why Can't I Stay Up As Late As You Do?
Tell your kid Not only does your body need a break after running around all day, your brain needs one too. It's busy exercising as you think and discover new things. Since you're so active and learning so much more than adults each day, you need extra time to rest. You go to bed a little earlier so your body and mind can work even better in the morning.
What you should know Contrary to popular belief, our body and brain don't "grow" while we sleep. But scientists know that rest is essential to healthy mental development; when kids get less than ten hours a night, they're more irritable and don't learn as well, Dr. Sanghavi notes.
8- Why Do the Kids Next Door Have So Many More Toys Than We Do?
Tell your kid It's up to adults to decide what they do with their money, and our neighbors may choose to spend more on toys than we do. It's easy to feel jealous, but having more stuff won't make our family happier or better than any other.
What you should know This might sound like a loaded question, but look at it as an opportunity to start a conversation about the concept of money: where it comes from and how your family opts to spend, save, or give it away, suggests Sharon Lechter, founder of payyourfamilyfirst.com, an organization dedicated to improving financial literacy. "Explain that everything has a cost, then describe what it is you and your partner do every day to pay the bills," she says. Discuss the difference between want and need, and, with an older child, talk about ways that he can make money of his own, such as by offering to wash a neighbor's car.
9- Why Do I Have to Invite That Girl to My Birthday Party?
Tell your kid Because if you don't, it might hurt her feelings, and in our family we always try to be kind to others. Even if another kid seems different from you or you're not into the same things, it's important to include her. You don't have to become close friends, but imagine how you'd feel if she threw a party and invited everyone in the class but you.
What you should know Kids can start to form groups and exclude others as early as preschool -- but combating this behavior now can have a major impact down the line, says Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. "If you can teach your child at an early age to imagine how others feel and consider how she can help them, you'll raise someone who's not only less likely to bully, but more likely to stop a friend from being cruel," she says.
Originally published in the August 2012 issue of Parents magazine.