As any parent will tell you (wearily), pre-school children ask an awful lot of questions – up to 70 an hour, according to some research.
By the time children are five, those questions have changed so that many of them are complex ‘Why?’ questions – asking for an explanation of the world around them.
But what should a parent do, when faced with dozens of questions on subjects such as why the stars go away at night?
Colombo suggests that a mechanical breakdown of the answer is a good way to approach it – for instance, if asked ‘Why did that window break?’, a good answer is: ‘Because someone threw a rock at it.’
Sadly, the old parental staple of snapping, ‘It just does, OK?’ isn’t a good strategy at all – as research has shown that children who don’t get an explanatory answer are much, much more likely to ask another question, or re-ask the first one.
A 2009 study said, ‘When preschool-aged children receive an explanation to these questions, they appear satisfied (as evidenced by their agreement).
‘In contrast, when children do not receive an explanation, they are persistent in re-asking for this information or they suggest their own explanation.’