How to get through the why phase

How to get through the ‘why’ phase without losing your mind

Parenting, especially in the early years, seems to come in phases.

The newborn phase, the multiple teething phases, the sleepless nights phase.  Knowing that these things are just phases, and they’ll end soon enough, is what has got me through the toughest ones.

And there is one phase in particular that can drive you to the edge of insanity.

The ‘why’ phase.


If you’ve been through it, or are stuck in the middle of it right now, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

That phase when almost every thing you say to your child is met with that one little word.  Why.

It normally comes when children are around 2 or 3 years old and it. is. exhausting.


There is a little trick you can try though, that just might save your sanity.


All you have to do is turn the question back round to them.

Next time they ask you ‘why’ about something, instead of trying to explain the answer to them (or make up an answer depending on how random the question is), try this.

Respond to the question with, “hmm, I’m not sure, why do you think?”


More often than not they’ll come up with their own answer to the question.

Then you just need to nod along, maybe add something like “that sounds about right to me” and then you can all move on with your day!

So simple and so effective when you just can’t come up with another answer to another why.


One more thing that can help when you’re stuck in this phase is to understand what is really happening.

Quite often when our children ask ‘why’ they’re not looking for the type of answer we want to give.  They’re looking for engagement and general information about the subject they’re asking ‘why’ about.

So if your child asks why they need to put their shoes on, they don’t just want the answer ‘because we’re going out’.  Giving them that answer will generally just result in them asking ‘why’ again.

What they want is to engage with you.  To understand the world.  It’s really obvious to us that we put shoes on to go out, but a two year old who is still learning about the world may well still question it.

So when you have the chance, and the patience, try answering some ‘why’ questions with broad information about the subject.  Talk to your child about why people started wearing shoes.  Tell them about the different types of footwear we have, and the reasons we wear wellies in the rain and flip flops on the beach.


This phase can be absolutely exhausting, but if you can see it as your child wanting to learn about the world and make sense of things that possibly make no sense at all to them at the moment, then it can be a bit easier to get through.

And keep in mind that this is just a phase.

This too shall pass.

And in the meantime, remember you can always turn the question round on them if you need a break from the bombardment of whys.


This post is linked up to KCACOLS with A moment with Franca.

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