Almost 4 year old with very strange interests...? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 06-01-2012, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am having the hardest time staying "ahead of the game" planning my parenting skills with my 3 year, 9 month old DS. For a long time, my major panic was that he was never going to talk! Then at 31 months, he woke up speaking in sentences. He was still only about 60% understandable at age 3, but now I am often told by others that they can understand everything he is saying, and clearly other children can understand him now too as he has started to talk and play games at the playground and library, without my assistance. The only speech issues remaining are that he really can't say his name! (Austin.. .he says Au-don..) and a few sounds - s, ch, r.. which I am told is very typical.

 

Now that he is blahblah.gif all day long, my new challenge is that he has such deep, bizarre curiousity, and I'm not really sure what to do with it. I have a 4 y/o niece, and we have several friends with 3-5 year olds, and I certainly have never noticed anything like this in any of them.

 

Examples: 1) DS asks my MIL where the water in the sink comes from. She tells him about her well and how that all works. She also mentions that most people don't get their water that way, and he starts inquiring about the public water system. My DS has since (several times) told me all of the in-depth details of how water gets from a body of water to our sink. 

 

2) DS asks about Nana's mom, who died last year. He starts asking a ton of questions about death. He goes through like full body function, how we breathe, how heart stops beating, why do we need our heart to beat, etc? And then he moves on to things like, once all of the people die, will dinosaurs be able to come back? When are all of the people going to die, anyway?

 

3) Tons of questions about God. I do my best, but it's so hard for him to understand such an abstract concept. He questions God's living quarters and human-but-not-quite-human qualities all. the. time. He wants to know how God tells us things (and the Bible is not a satisfactory answer for DS!). 

 

And things like - what kind of machines build houses? What are machines made out of? What makes machines work? What makes the car go (and not just gas, which he knows, but how does the gas get to the engine and make it go forward)? Why do some people need surgery and others don't (he had surgery as a baby)? How does our brain and body go to sleep? What do trees eat? Will trees ever die?  How do people decide what kind of job they want to have? dizzy.gif

 

And all of this from a kid who has no interest in learning the ABC's or the concept of time! 

 

 

Does anyone else have a child who asks off the wall questions all day everyday, and how do you deal with this sort of thing? I have seen a lot of advice to just give a simple answer and move on, but believe me when I say this does not work with DS. It only leads to 100 more questions, even if I insist he drop a subject, he does not forget! He just brings it up later. Anyone? Commiseration? Advice? Thoughts?


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#2 of 15 Old 06-01-2012, 08:19 PM
 
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My kids are all like that.  And it really wears me out some days.  I thought it was just dd1, but I've found that as soon as she isn't here to monopolize the discussion, the other two talking ones have plenty of their own questions.

 

Ds (just turned 5) wants to know what all the warning stickers say lately.  I've had to explain the details of air bags, how they work, why we have them, etc twice now.  And we've had huge discussions over which is worse, a fire or an explosion.

 

Dd (3) wants to know how everything is made.  Cars, cups, buckles, shirts, anything.  With the other two I finally got to the point where I could say, "Well, it's plastic, what do YOU think" and make them do the talking.

 

Dd (7) absolutely exhausts me some days.  Her mind goes and goes and goes.  Now that she is older, I've tried directing her to resources to answer her own questions, and we've really been working on deductive reasoning. 

 

Anyway, here's a few things I've learned to tone it down a bit:

 

1.) Ask them what they REALLY want to know.  Often their question is vague, and makes me have to explain way more than they are interested in anyway, or, makes me have to say it all day after day because they still haven't gotten their question answered.  "Mama, how do they make blenders?"  But, if I ask what he really wants to know, he might say, "Why does it have that spinney thing inside?"  Or, "That part is all the same color, does it come apart?  Why?"  He didn't really care about how they make blenders start to finish.  He wanted to know about the spinney thing. 

 

2.) Sometimes they really do want to know the whole thing.  When dd1 was 2 she started asking "Why" all the time.  I thought I was going to lose my mind.  It wasn't a discipline thing at all, she wasn't trying to be annoying.  She really wanted to know.  I quickly learned that I should just tell her all I knew.  Sure enough, she stopped asking why.

 

3.) Sometimes I tell them "not now."  Or "when you are bigger".  These super curious ones bite off more than they can chew at times, and the questions spiral out of control.  They get too big and then the child can't process the information because they don't have enough life reference yet. 

 

4.)  Sometimes I also challenge them to think about why they think I should know the answer to something.  Like, "how did that bridge turn green."  I point out that we have been driving for 5 hours, and I've never seen that bridge in my life.  I only have as much information as they do.  This is tricky, because little kids see their parents as the source of all knowledge (with all our telling them what to do, we certainly seem  to think we are, right?), but slowly showing them that I don't know it all is a good thing. 

 

Do be sure you are writing his questions down.  This time is so sweet and precious.  Treasure how much he is confiding in you all of his thoughts and wonderings.  :)


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#3 of 15 Old 06-01-2012, 08:37 PM
 
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It's pretty normal. Personally, I like to see children who are interested in this kind of stuff because it'll give them a wonderful basis of knowledge for when they start reading. Both my kids were like this, ds more than dd. Dd was curious but often about different things. Ds wanted to know the why of things and was very interested in abstract concepts like God and death. At this age, they're starting to discover the wider world and it's really fun to see!

 

The only advice I'd give is to make sure that you check out books both from the fiction and non-fiction section of the library.

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#4 of 15 Old 06-03-2012, 02:28 PM
 
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My almost 4 year old does this.  We can't drive past a cemetery without a 20 minute conversation about dead people.  Honestly, it's exhausting b/c she never stops.  There's times I have to say no more questions until we get home or no more until the kitchen timer goes off b/c I need a break.


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#5 of 15 Old 06-04-2012, 06:54 AM
 
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This seems pretty typical of kids.  Magic School Bus books are great for all the nitty gritty how stuff works.  Ds and all the kids at his preschool eat them up!  And they remember so many of the details and use those details in play.  There are tons of "how stuff works" books too, we usually get one every time we go to the library.  Ds's school went to the local water works museum and WHOA does he now know and talk about a lot of water related stuff!!!!!  Factory tours are excellent day trips if there are any near you.  Science museums too.  Especially at this age where they are still willing to listen to what is going on in the exhibit instead of running from button to button to push everything. Documentaries also work for answering questions.  Ds is especially interested in nature-y things and so those are great.  My friend's ds loves "how they make that" or something to that effect.

 

And sometimes I say "listen to this cd because if you ask me any more questions my head might actually explode!!!!!"

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#6 of 15 Old 06-04-2012, 08:34 AM
 
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Except for sounding positively exhausting, this sounds wonderful.  

 

We homeschool, and this is the kind of inquiry that keeps things interesting.

 

I do employ a few tricks to these kinds of questions:  I have a list of books to get from the library, a list of questions to look up in books, online.  Some questions like "Why do we call an apple that?" get me to respond "I don't know, I'll have to look that up" then either I look it up or I write it down.  Questions about how the sink works might lead to "How Things Work" books.  We bring home stacks of books from the library based on their interests, and it keeps me from answering every single question.  (My girls are not nearly as persistent as your ds.)

 

As for ABC's: compared to death and plumbing, the alphabet is boooooooring!  


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#7 of 15 Old 06-04-2012, 11:36 AM
 
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Hm...perhaps you could link more interest in the alphabet if you introduce it as the way you start to recognize words, which leads to sentances, which leads to more, etc, etc....and ONE of the ways to answer questions is by reading books to find the answers. Because someday he'll ask you about something you can't answer, but a book might!

And field trips? Any constructions sites? Train museum? city water/public works?

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#8 of 15 Old 06-04-2012, 12:33 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Honey693 View Post

My almost 4 year old does this.  We can't drive past a cemetery without a 20 minute conversation about dead people.  Honestly, it's exhausting b/c she never stops.  There's times I have to say no more questions until we get home or no more until the kitchen timer goes off b/c I need a break.

I tell my kids that "my question answerer is tired". :)


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#9 of 15 Old 06-06-2012, 07:07 AM
 
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It sounds like he has a very observant and inquisitive nature. It can be wearing! I used to joke that my DD would certainly grow up to be an investigative reporter because she had such a special knack for devising questions that drove right to the heart of what she wanted to know and ran circles around any vagueries I tried to pass off when I wasn't in the mood. The scenarios you layed out remind me very much of that stage with DD.

I tried to think of it as a game, and to play along whenever I was up for it at all. Often times, I had to confess that I didn't know the answers myself, and we would have to get books from the library to read together or search the internet for videos showing a process, etc. I have to say that in hindsight, I AM SO VERY GLAD that I made the time to give these questions the attention they deserved because they really are a springboard for learning, and really shaped how we chose to educate. I would have certainly put her into the school system, but I found with these early child-driven lessons that we were really able to capitalize on her own natural curiosity, and so we continued this into the kindergarten year, expanding her questions into unit studies, and delving as deep as she had the stomach for. What amazing results we had. As a result, by the time it was time to enroll for first grade, I just couldn't imagine it - her sitting in a desk doing 30 minutes worth of science reading as a group, whereas at home it could be two hours of science consisting of reading, creating, watching a video, doing! And here we are all these years later, still homeschooling, still letting her interests set the agenda.

If it's in you at all (and it sounds like it is), embrace the questions! They'll make for an interesting and exciting ride!
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#10 of 15 Old 06-06-2012, 05:36 PM
 
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We've had a very similar experience, except that our son was talking clearly quite early, so we've been doing it longer!

 

All the tricks from pps are great, and I've used them all.

 

But llately I've also noticed that too much information can be very unhelpful to these little smarties. Our experience in a waldorf nursery is showing me that my son gets a LOT more emotional satisfaction from answers like: "Well, one day when it was time to build that bridge, all the bridge fairies got together with the river fairies and had a talk about what color it should be...." Story continues, to his great delight and utter contentment. Unlike "Hmmm, well, sometimes bridges can be painted in fun colors or not painted at all." Reply "Who decides that? Why did they choose green?" Questions continue and frustration mounts on all sides. 

 

And since the emotional satisfaction with the fairy tale answers, or the fuzzier information answers, is greater, I'm going with that. I know his intellectual growth has the potential to totally overcome his emotional growth (family tendencies!) so I'm choosing to put more weight on security and simplicity and let his brain get all the irrelevant facts later. Of course I still give relevant facts that help him grow and function in the meantime ("the oven will stay hot for a while after we turn it off, so we won't clean it til later because it's too hot to touch now.")


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#11 of 15 Old 06-06-2012, 06:53 PM
 
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Sounds like he is a bright kid. I wouldn't say any of your examples are atypical. My kids and I got into a big discussion about death, burial, cremation the other day. One has decided to be cremated but the other thinks it is scary and will 'keep my body'. When I can't answer any more questions (because I'm at my limit or I don't know the answer) we will often write the topic down so we can get a book from the library (nice because it has an end) or write down a person we know that we could ask the question. I was very happy recently when we met a mechanic at a public works event and he was able to finally give my ds an answer to what would happen if you put gas in a diesel engine. I could explain how both types of engines work but not exactly the answer to that question. This guy was patient and knew the facts and the topic also interested him so he and ds had a good back and forth about it. And it led to more learning experiences as some vehicles now use the diesel exhaust for other purposes. Sometimes my kids will insist that I 'ask google'. We have watched endless you tube videos of animals giving birth, buildings being built, stuff like that. Sometimes I just can't explain it in enough detail or to their liking and the videos help.
 

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#12 of 15 Old 06-06-2012, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! So many great responses. Thanks for all of the shared experiences and ideas here. I'm honestly surprised to find out this is relatively normal, and glad. Perhaps I'll have DH read this thread to alleviate his fear that I am somehow raising DS much too fast! I think the fact that he was just beginning to talk at this time last year makes me so hesitant to answer such deep questions, not realizing what's normal for his age given that he's only been talking to me at all for a year or so. 

 

I have sometimes done the library or google thing, but it is difficult to teach patience and wait til we go to the library concepts to a child who literally has no concept of time. He gets night time and day time, morning and night, yesterday and tomorrow but that's it. 2 days, 3 days, hours, weeks, all of that means nothing to him. 

 

The other thing that baffles me, is that DS really, truly believes that I know everything. We often have conversations like this, "Mom, what are a fireman's clothes made out of?" "I don't know, sweetie."  "You do know."  "No... I don't. How could I know?"  "You are Mommy. You know. Tell me."  "I'm not a firefighter. I don't have firefighters in my family. I don't make firefighters clothes. I don't know what they're made of."  "Yes, you do." ?!?!?!?

 

I do also occasionally use "when you're older", and "Mommy's tired right now", and just plain "Not now, sweetie." But whew, is he relentless.

 

About school... I have also thought about how this could easily lead into homeschooling or even unschooling in a positive way. However, I am currently at my absolute end-of-rope with my 24/7 care of DS and DD, and considering working at some point in the next few years. I just don't have it in me to do it. I don't have any help or support aside from DH, and I just can't do all of the raising and all of the education all by myself, all the time. That said, I am concerned about DS showing up to Kindergarten 2 years from now (he'll turn 5 next August, so we'll be waiting another year) ..he's going to be so far beyond what's going on in that classroom. I guess I'll have to deal with all of that as it comes.

 

LCBMAX - I love the idea of playful reponses. Part of what worries me about DS' extreme interests is that he seems so.. serious. So intense for such a young boy. DD loves all things silly, but I rarely see that from him. I definitely think I will have to try that.

 

 

Another thought to those who responded with google, library, museums, etc....... Do you have younger children? And if you do, how do you manage these needs/interests of your older child? I try to do as much library and museum type adventures with DS as possible, but the truth is that it is sometimes EXTREMELY difficult with 16 m/o DD who won't be held, but doesn't like to walk in any particular direction, if you KWIM. She is very independent and trying to "control" her, and her attention is such focused situations is very hard. 

 

 

Thanks again for all the thoughtful responses!


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#13 of 15 Old 06-07-2012, 12:06 PM
 
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This sounds like my four-year-old. He has many questions about God and death, and I know some of it comes because my parents are deceased and my husband's aren't. ("Where's your mommy, Mommy?") All I can do is keep my answers consistent and answer as succinctly and in accordance with my beliefs. He loves asking questions about what I'm cooking, and those are questions I don't mind answering, though I sometimes say, "Okay, Mommy needs to think hard about what this recipe needs. Can you play with the baby/some toys/etc?" When I've reached the limits of what I know or can answer, I try to distract him, which works well enough.

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#14 of 15 Old 06-07-2012, 01:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by anjsmama View Post

Wow! So many great responses. Thanks for all of the shared experiences and ideas here. I'm honestly surprised to find out this is relatively normal, and glad. Perhaps I'll have DH read this thread to alleviate his fear that I am somehow raising DS much too fast! I think the fact that he was just beginning to talk at this time last year makes me so hesitant to answer such deep questions, not realizing what's normal for his age given that he's only been talking to me at all for a year or so. 

 

You speak from your heart.  If you are the kind of person that loves to delve into the details of what you do know, then go for it, but be on the lookout for a loss of interest.  It is true that a 3yo doesn't always need the whole story, but if I feel in the mood, I will go on and on and be such a geek about it.

 

I have sometimes done the library or google thing, but it is difficult to teach patience and wait til we go to the library concepts to a child who literally has no concept of time. He gets night time and day time, morning and night, yesterday and tomorrow but that's it. 2 days, 3 days, hours, weeks, all of that means nothing to him. 

 

Always difficult to teach patience.  That's what "the list" is for.  Make it a ritual every day to look something up on that list, and he will get used to the idea.  And if you are free?  Just look it up.  Right then.  Why not?  I think this one is also totally age appropriate.

 

The other thing that baffles me, is that DS really, truly believes that I know everything. We often have conversations like this, "Mom, what are a fireman's clothes made out of?" "I don't know, sweetie."  "You do know."  "No... I don't. How could I know?"  "You are Mommy. You know. Tell me."  "I'm not a firefighter. I don't have firefighters in my family. I don't make firefighters clothes. I don't know what they're made of."  "Yes, you do." ?!?!?!?

 

"I do?  Who told you that?" with a sweet smile might turn the conversation around better than a contradiction.  To a 3yo, parents are omniscient and many have not discovered that parents can't read minds, either.  "Oh, you're confusing me with MagicMama.  MagicMama has 8 arms for getting everything all at once, and she knows everything.  I am not MagicMama, but I do know how to find out!  I bet Uncle         

            knows the answer to that one.  Let's remember to ask him."  You get the idea.  It will get you nowhere to flatly contradict him.  He'll figure it out eventually.  (Meanwhile....BREATHE!)

 

I do also occasionally use "when you're older", and "Mommy's tired right now", and just plain "Not now, sweetie." But whew, is he relentless.

 

The List!!!!!!  Amazing how taking a minute to write his idea down gives it Importance and Relevance.  We write notes all the time about all kinds of things.

 

About school... I have also thought about how this could easily lead into homeschooling or even unschooling in a positive way. However, I am currently at my absolute end-of-rope with my 24/7 care of DS and DD, and considering working at some point in the next few years. I just don't have it in me to do it. I don't have any help or support aside from DH, and I just can't do all of the raising and all of the education all by myself, all the time. That said, I am concerned about DS showing up to Kindergarten 2 years from now (he'll turn 5 next August, so we'll be waiting another year) ..he's going to be so far beyond what's going on in that classroom. I guess I'll have to deal with all of that as it comes.

 

Parents of 3yos are the ones I most often hear wondering about How In the Bleeping Hell Am I Gonna Homeschool When I Can Barely Get A Shower???????  And I was that mom, too.  3yo with another kid(s) in tow is the hardest time to be thinking about this practically.  Instead think about it *theoretically* and trust that your 3yo will not be 3 forever.  5 and 6yo is a world away from 3yo.  Trust me on this. 

 

Another thought to those who responded with google, library, museums, etc....... Do you have younger children? And if you do, how do you manage these needs/interests of your older child? I try to do as much library and museum type adventures with DS as possible, but the truth is that it is sometimes EXTREMELY difficult with 16 m/o DD who won't be held, but doesn't like to walk in any particular direction, if you KWIM. She is very independent and trying to "control" her, and her attention is such focused situations is very hard. 

 

We have other areas where we have to sacrifice one's interest for another.  But, you substitute.  For a year we could not go to the local park, because the pebbles under the play equipment would always get in her little sister's mouth.  The only one we could go to was one with rubber mats under the toys, and that was 30 miles away.  Go to places special for your son when Grandma or Daddy or another favorite adult is around so you can split up if you need to and play with your dd on the toys while ds treks off to the other corner of the Zoo to see the bears... Recently we gave up a monthly wilderness class because my oldest (then 6yo) was so resistant and I couldn't find another class at a time when she could stay home with dh while dd2 and I went.

 

In the end, This Too Shall Pass.

 


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#15 of 15 Old 06-07-2012, 01:51 PM
 
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I had a similar situation with my ds as his language was late. I was actually amazed when I realized what typical language development was when my dd went through it.

 

My ds responds wonderfully to the use of a timer. It is especially helpful if he can see the timer. You can also use a calendar to show him about days, mark the day you will go to the library and do a count down. Or make paper rings and tear one off each night showing when you will go. My kids are 22 months apart and the stage that you are at right now is exhausting. But it does get better and you are not too far from the phase that it usually gets significantly easier. Your younger child will start to be interested in the same things as the older child and will want to do the same things and be 'big' like her brother. You will have to modify some things to make them appropriate for younger or older but it isn't that difficult.

 

My ds didn't do alot of academic learning in K. He did alot of social learning, exploring, learning norms, etc. He is ahead in most areas but school is far from boring for him - he loves it and thrives there. His teacher allows him to work beyond the work she assigns. We do a fair amount of work at home on things he is interested in. In the future there may be a time that he needs more and home school is a possibility but not my preference. I think it is good to keep that open but you have a couple years ahead of you to figure that out.
 

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