How do you know what is age appropriate? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 3 Old 04-11-2012, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
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All around?


My child is a never ending well of deep curiousity, and the questions cease only when I absolutely INSIST that it is quiet time. This is a bit overwhelming, considering DS is just over 3.5 y/o and was not really even talking at this time last year. Now, he goes on and on and on and on all day, and each answer I give leads to a new question. He is my first child and all of the confidence I had on what to do with an infant/toddler is lost on this clearly-not-so-little-anymore kiddo. 


I am struggling with the need to be honest with him. I felt my mother lied to me for most of my life and I have this deep rooted tell-him-the-truth-philosophy. But one minute, we're talking about dinosaurs and he wants to know why there aren't any dinosaurs except birds anymore. I tell him they've all died. He wants to know why they died. We talk about extinction, climates, food supply/demand, etc. He wants to know when people will die. Why do people die? When all of the people die, can dinosaurs come back? I don't know what is age appropriate death discussion.


He's also well-informed of babies growing inside their mother's womb and sperm fertilizes egg yada, yada and now he wants to know, how does the sperm get inside the Mom to the egg? So now I have to find a book and figure out what's age appropriate sex talk..


DH is a LEO, so of course, we had to discuss gun safety in case he should ever see or be near his dad's weapon. He knows that guns are not safe because they could "really, really hurt someone" and that daddy carries it only because he has to but has never used it. But then DS can be overheard at the playground telling other kids their Nerf guns could hurt someone......


If his questions were less insightful, I might be less pulled to answer. But he's honestly so curious, and each question seems logically connected to the one he asked before. I sometimes feel as if he's trying to make up for all of the things he didn't say/ask for the first 2.5 years of his life. 


Anyway, it seems that at least once every day, I find myself wondering.... "I have no idea! What is the 3.5 year old version of this?!" Sometimes, I hear him explaining things and he sounds so ridiculously grown up and I wonder if I've been too literal with him.... "Yes, I would like the dinosaurs to come back and live with people. They are neat. But probably not TRex because he would have to eat the people. And if Trex eats us, then we die."


How do you know what to say to your child in any given age range?!

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#2 of 3 Old 04-12-2012, 04:36 AM
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I guess I just follow DS's cues. He is just a bit younger than your DS, and we have definitely discussed death in depth... sex, less so, because he has asked fewer questions and seems less interested. My basic premise is, if a kid is asking a question, they are old enough to know the answer. But, that doesn't mean we have to be overly graphic or pile on more info than they may be ready for. I just try to answer each question as it comes, as truthfully & honestly as I can, and keep a close eye on his reaction. If he seems scared or overwhelmed, I might try to simplify things or steer the conversation in another direction, or ask him more questions to try to figure out exactly what concerns him.

I grew up very much in the dark about things. We never talked about death, I never got 'the sex talk' (not even in school), I was oblivious to so many things... and it later contributed to lots of very serious issues for me (severe anxiety, abuse, etc.) So I do feel a strong need to give my DS accurate & complete information. I do sometimes worry if I am telling him too much, but these are all things he will need to know sooner or later & I'd rather he accept them as a normal part of life rather than something taboo. We talk about the meat we eat being from a dead chicken, or about how people die... where you go when you die, where you were before you were born... I give him factual information about how babies are made, menstrual cycles, etc. plus accurate names for his private parts, but I don't necessarily embellish. For the most part, I treat these kinds of questions the same way I would, "Why is the grass green?" or "Where does Aunt Jane live?"

DS has some anxiety issues (has since birth, probably genetic). He has been asking questions like this for about a year now, maybe a bit longer, and one thing I've noticed is that his anxiety tends to decrease the more I'm able to answer his questions. He gets really upset when I'm not able to answer his questions (because often he asks things I simply don't know the answer to). At the same time, sometimes while processing the answers I give him, he does get a little emotional. I remember one time where I just held him while he sobbed -- he didn't want to die, he didn't want me to die, etc. But after a few minutes of crying, he was done, and he moved on, and I think that was a cathartic release for him. I don't see that as him having too much information, just a need to emotionally process the info I'd given him... which at some point, we all have to do, whether as little kids, teens, or adults.

So bottom line is, just be aware of your child's reactions, both immediate & long-term, and I think you will get your answer! smile.gif

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#3 of 3 Old 04-12-2012, 08:30 AM
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I think everything you posted is age appropriate. If I don't know the answer to a question I feel I can say that too my kids and then ask, what do you think? We can discuss possibilities and sometimes reach a conclusion, other times we end with we don't know. Or lets find a book about that at the library next time. My kids also like to say 'mom, ask google' and I think that is hilarious! For the life/death talk I like the book "lifetimes" for that age. It is very basic. For complicated questions I try to go slowly and only answer what my child is asking. How does the sperm get inside the mom? The dad and mom put it there. How do they put it there? Their bodies come together, kind of like a puzzle, and the dads penis puts the seed in the mom. I've used some basic anatomy books with my kids.


At this age most kids are really logical. And I think it is okay to correct things gently. I heard you talking to your friends on the play ground about their nerf guns. Nerf guns are different than the kind of gun daddy has. They are for play and don't hurt people. I will show you one the next time we are at the store. Here is how you can see it is a play gun instead of a real gun, etc.


It sounds like you are doing great explaining things to your child. We all get overwhelmed sometimes. Sounds like you have a bright kid on your hands!

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