The WHY Phase
Listen about to how to cope with it! Jenny Baxter talks to Scottie Haas on ultra106five Hobart.
How many times have you thrown your hands up in frustration at the never-ending WHYs?
Recently a friend posted the following cry for help on Facebook. (You can see my answer further down)
Ok, thoughts and opinions welcomed. Son is asking lots of “WHY?” questions at the moment, which is awesome but does make me want to bash my head against the wall just a little bit. I need help with this question, asked yesterday, “When is something not new anymore?”
Oh my gosh! Can you identify with her? The WHY phase! It seems as though every child has a time in his or her life when the reaction to every single thing is, “Why Mum?” or “What’s that there for?” or “How come?”
The LVEQs – Little Voice with Endless Questions
It’s such a frustrating thing to have every minute peppered with six-year-old’s questions, of Why? What? When? Where? How? You could almost describe it as a syndrome – the Little Voice with Endless Questions or LVEQs.
So, when reading about this young boy, you get it don’t you? The long-term effect of the LVEQs is enough to plead for a Lunch Break. Or a Leave Pass. Or even a Holiday!
Everyone has their own family stories of the LVEQs. My own exasperated parents would say to me: “Just because” or, “Because I said so.”
It didn’t really answer the questions, but it kept the peace.
For a minute.
And I must have asked this next question often when out in the back shed on hot, sunny days:
“What ya doin’ Dad?”.
And he would ALWAYS say,
“I’m pumpin’ up my bike!”
Which was code for,
“Don’t ask me, can’t you see what I’m doing?”
It was sort of funny, but it was sort of not. Because I found it a terribly unsatisfying response. It wasn’t any old trifling question – I was curious, and I was asking questions because I really wanted to know what he was doing!
So . . . about the Facebook post with the WHY Phase?
When reading that Facebook post, not only was it clear this mother was terribly irritated, but so was her son. When he asks questions, he really does want to know more about the world around him. Which means the questions often do require a genuine response. But it really is a dilemma when the record (or the iPod, or the MP3 player) feels as if it’s broken.
Interestingly, at that point, everyone had given answers to the LVEQ raised by her son. They wanted to help her explain to him the questions about, “when something is no longer new”. Which was great.
But no one had yet tackled the heartfelt cry within the post:
“I think I am going mad with the LVEQs!”
It was good to stop and reflect on her frustration. When parenting at the coal-face it’s easy to forget something very important. Because, you know what? It’s just one of those phases! It’s so easy to forget to keep a long-term perspective, especially when you’re in the middle of a maddening phase like the LVEQs.
Here is what I ended up writing in my reply to my friend about her son’s questioning phase:
“I often used to say [to my son/daughter] something like, “Why do you think something is not new?” That way you engage him in the answer, and get him to reason through what he’s thinking, instead of relying on your response all the time. Also, remember, this is a phase.”
Also… Remember this is a phase.
Because you know what? It won’t be like this forever. It’s just the WHY Phase. One day you might be asking why God blessed you with a monosyllabic teen! So, if the habit becomes to create conversation then it’s a good thing.
So here are some golden rules for coping with exasperating phases, including the WHY phase . . .
Every child goes through phases
It’s part of growing up, so expect them. They can be good as well as bad. Remember to take time to enjoy the lovely ones. The don’t last forever, the WHY phase included.
Phases happen at every age and stage
It’s more than just the LVEQs, it’s also:
- learner driving
- unemployment – and so much more.
Look for the good
Every difficult phase has a silver lining. Take a step back and be objective about the phases you are going through right now. Here are some positive outcomes of my list above:
- The LVEQs – a wonderfully educational time, which develops verbalization and communication skills. It fosters healthy curiosity. It also provides opportunities to talk about inappropriate nosiness. Yep – appropriate curiosity is a wonderful thing to nurture.
- Teething – well, one day there will be teeth, happy toothy smiles, increased food choices and sleep-through nights.
- Budding musicians – Children who learn the violin, or any other musical instrument, are learning harmony, rhythm, self-discipline, perseverance, and are growing important neural synapses in their creative (left) brain – plus a great many other skills.
- Leaner drivers – Gaining a driver’s license is almost an unofficial rite of passage into adulthood for young people. They learn independence, safety, responsibility for themselves and others. Teaching them can be nerve wracking, but once successfully completed it will have a long-term positive outcome. Prayer is a lifeline during this phase!
- Unemployment – maybe you can think of a silver lining? (Hint: spare time, education moment etc.)
Keep calm and carry on
Some phases are very dark, and it’s difficult to find the silver lining. At those moments, the good outcome is that you are the one being refined, and your own character is growing through adversity. Will you become bitter or better? That’s your choice.
Phases are temporary
It will not go on forever. One day, each phase will end!
In the meantime, be reminded to treasure your children. Every stage is precious. Value these moments.
What are some of the phases your children are going through at the moment?