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Daughter has reached the age of asking "why?" to everything.

"hold on to that cup with both hands"
"why?"
"i don't want you to drop it"
"why?"
"It's made of glass, and if you drop a glass thing it can break"
"why?"
"because glass is brittle"
"why?"
"because supercooling molten silicon dioxide makes an amorphous solid which is weaker than the crystalline form"
"why?"
"the crystalline form has a tetrahedral lattice of ionic bonds"
"why?"
"because one silicon atom can bind with four oxygen"
"why?"

@nindokag I find dropping in a "why do you think it is?" every now and then breaks up the stream of inquiry.

@stsquad @nindokag Yeah, or "what do you think will happen if you don't?"

@nindokag Love this. I think it's fascinating that "why?" embeds both causation and relevance in its prompting for more information. Kids want to know both--i.e. "what caused this to be?" as well as "how is this relevant to me?" Such a simple word, but very complex search. It might be fun to try to explain both embeddings in parallel, e.g. "because glass is brittle and I don't want you to get hurt," or maybe switch from "causation" to "relevance" somewhere down the chain. Funny dialog though!

@nindokag Answer to the last why was "mumble, mumble, valence, mumble". Which never rang true to me ;)

@jacek i can go one level deeper which is "the Pauli exclusion principle says every electron must have distinct quantum states, so the number of electrons in each shell is determined by how many states there are for quantum numbers"

but after that if she asks "why" again I have to say "I don't know!"

I think it's kinda cool how it only takes about 8 or 9 "why"s to reach the limits of human knowledge

@nindokag There are a some whys in between I thing, there are quantum solutions that define shape of electron orbitals. But I was never super good at physical chemistry, so no more details here.

@nindokag @jacek she is playing the Wikipedia Philosophy game with you, I love it.

@nindokag Also cool: if you'd have said "because the floor is too hard," you would've had a different explanation for a few steps, but only a few. @jacek

@nindokag @jacek @catoutofbed I love getting to the, "No one knows, but some very smart people are trying to figure it out," point with my kids. Also cool is the "I don't know, but we can look it up," point.

@benhamill @nindokag @jacek @catoutofbed unfortunately i was a shithead at that age so instead of taking the opportunity to learn, i stopped listening one or two "why?"s deep and just parroted the question over and over :p

@monorail @benhamill @nindokag @catoutofbed

Hey I had 4 years of German language in High School (albeit teachers were not really good).

And yet only things I can say is:

- Ich heise Jacek.
- Ich verstechen nicht!
- Wo is der bahnhoff.

And:

- Hande hoch! (albeit this was from watching II ww movies).

@benhamill @nindokag @jacek @catoutofbed I frequently have to answer "I'm not sure, but I can check on the internet" or "It's difficult to explain, do you want to see a picture of it ?"

It's soooooo easier to deal with the "Whys" than it was for previous generations.

@nindokag @jacek
after a couple more whys the answer should be 'we assume this as a postulate' which is followed by 'because its implications agree with everything that can be observed'. After that the anwers can go into the other direction in an endless circle, listing all phenomena verifying the postulate.

@ferds I never want to discourage her from asking "why", so I will keep answering "why" questions all day or until I get to "i don't know", rather than imply she should stop.

@nindokag @ferds That is awesome! I hope she will be a scientist when she's an adult.

@nindokag This is really a great mindset to have and is huge benefit to your daughter. Sounds like she is already thinking like a true Scientist :)

@nindokag @ferds

They all do this at some point.

A few go-rounds of answers, by the time I get to rayleigh scattering for blue sky questions, they aren't listening anyhow, only playing, and the answer becomes smiling something like "Because I say so. Now, would /rather/ drink your milk properly with both hands OR go sit on the stairs? Which would you like to do more?"
Just make the proposal matter-of-factly and the child will consider calmly.
OR
Pout. Depends on the day :-)
Not my 1st rodeo

@nindokag This is many people's idea of a good root cause analysis.

It's really not, though.

Try feeding her more, complimentary causes at each level.

That also slows down the speed at which you arrive at "because there is something, rather than nothing".

@dredmorbius @stsquad to be clear, this is not a problem that needs to be solved -- we're both having fun asking and answering "why" questions. But thanks for the book recommendation!

@nindokag
That's really cute. My son is at the 'what' stage. What is a car? What does it do? What is a place?

Occasionally if it takes me too long to answer, he gets really excited and answers in my stead. 'It's an ... ENGINE!!'

@nindokag this just made my morning. My little one has entered this phase too, along with "I can hear you but I am not listening or doing what you ask."

@nindokag because that's just how the universe works
Why?
We haven't figured that out yet.
Why?
Because we have limited human resources.
Why?
Because we are made out of organic matter
Why?
Because that's how life happened.
Why?
We also haven't figured that out yet.

@nindokag This is my favorite aspect of parenting that I can't wait for.

My kid's gonna make me so much smarter, I Can't Not look things up if I don't actually know.

@nindokag I find that if I answer with a really long and drawn out explanation then my kid stops asking why - I at least have his short attention span to thank I guess.

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