Four-Year-Olds Who Ask Many Questions

(One of my long-term readers kindly pointed out there are no back posts on this subject, so here it is now!)

Yes, asking many questions is a hallmark of being four years of age.  It does not mean all questions a four-year-old asks needs to be answered directly though (although nor does it mean that we don’t ever answer a question!)  However,  four-year-olds often seem to ask about a million questions a day.  Many of these questions are just a reflection of the wonderfully imaginative way a child of that age has at looking at the world, and it is really important not to shut their ideas down with a very adult way of looking at things.

I think what helps is to certainly be tuned into your child in a warm and loving way, but in a way in which you are busy and not hanging on their every word.  I find this much easier to do myself when I am physically working with my whole body, not just sitting down and using only my hands.  If I am shoveling, digging, planting, scrubbing, etc it is much easier for me to hum, sing, give a warm smile but not have this incredibly involved discussion where the child sits down next to me and we play Fifty Questions About Life.

Humming, singing, and being busy but yet tuned into your child is a  fine art of balancing in parenting.  It is a process and a journey to achieve this.   We can use our warmth, our smiles, our love.  We can answer with neutral phrases such as “I really wonder that too!” (and actually mean it!) or we can say, “I don’t know, but I know a (song, poem, verse) about that!”   We try to answer a four-year-old as pictorially as possible – the time for more pointed answers to questions comes in the grades with short explanations.  If you need help with speaking pictorially, please try this back post:

If a child is extremely insistent that we answer a question, we can gently ask the child what they think without commenting too much about what they say.  Give them space and time to complete their own ideas and thoughts.  Sometimes they really can answer their own questions in their little four-year-old way of looking at the world and the universe!

Also, I mean this in a very kind way, but I often see this questioning and chatter more in families where the four-year-old is the oldest in the family or the only child. A four-year-old oldest or only often learns to communicate verbally with an adult for a feeling of intimacy and closeness more frequently than those who have a house full of sibling playmates to attend to.  Smile

If you find your four-year-old seems to be asking just a million and a half questions, here are a few “sideways” tips to assist you:

1.  Be busy yourself with your whole body in work  — sometimes sitting down with just  hands in work becomes an opportunity for a child to just plant themselves next to you and ask question after question.

2.  If your child simply must chatter away, have them do something physical whilst they are chattering. 

3.  Please double check the amount of outside time they are getting.  Some children chatter when they have a lot of nervous energy and don’t know what else to do with themselves.

4.  How is their play?  Here are two back articles about fostering creative play:  and here:

5.  And, this one might make folks bristle a bit, but good old-fashioned benign neglect is okay.  Your relationship with your spouse or partner is really, really important – a foundation for the home.  It is okay for your child to be at the periphery a bit and not so much center-ring in the family stage.  I mean that with love, so just meditate and ponder on that.  I see so many, many families where the child is really thrust into the position of carrying what should be the adult life  between adults and the child becomes the intimate, verbal substitute for an adult relationship and communication for one or both of the parents.  Disregard this thought if it does not apply to your family, of course. Smile

And remember, the time WILL come to answer these questions in a more factual way – starting in the grades.  This is such a short time period in which to protect your child’s imagination, and their development of a sound  and healthy emotional life.

What thoughts do you have about children who incessantly chatter or question?

Many blessings,


18 thoughts on “Four-Year-Olds Who Ask Many Questions

  1. I agree with what you have said here…for a well connected child – one who is secure about their place in their parents’ affections. However, it has also been my experience that many question askers – perhaps those who are incessant and/or continue on this path after the age of four, are just desparate for a sense of connection with their parents, and the questioning is an attempt to satisfy this need.

  2. It is funny you should post about a child who likes to chatter. Our five year old son is like this,….and he almost lives outside, I mean he spends many hours in the garden or the woods and wears out the bigger boys including the adults. He has just so much energy!
    This includes talking, …I mean without an end in sight!
    My husband and I can barely get a word in, I have read a lot about how the adult should not talk so much and explain etc. so we have not done this for a very long time, most of the time I nod, smile or keep my replies to a minimum but it just does not seem to make a difference. If he does not chat with somebody, he chats to his baby sister or his imaginary friends.
    I think this could be genetic as well, father in law and dad are very chatty people, but my husband has barely been home in the past year due to work, so I am not so sure anymore that this comes just from outside influences. Even a Waldorf early childhood teacher could not come up with an answer to this.

  3. Oh, I would like to add, in regards to pp mentioning that a child might seek connection with the parent seems very reasonable normally, but our son is being homeschooled since over a year and he does get a lot of attention from everybody in his surrounding, including both of his parents, as when hubby is at home he spends almost every hour with him either in the woods or out in the yard. Inside he cooks, bakes and plays with me/us regularly. We tell lots of stories, paint and do crafts as well. Circle time is very important to us, especially since the birth of his sister as I want to make sure he gets still plenty one on one time.

  4. Carrie, Related to this is a topic that I often think about: How (and Why) Not to Awaken the Young Children from Her/His Dreamy State. I actually know the “why” part, though I’m not always 100% convinced. The “how” part I waver on: “is X awakening or not?”

  5. Oh MAN is my almost 5yo like this! Sometimes she moves so fast in her question asking that she asks several times before I can even formulate an answer, or decide how to answer her! I’m pretty sure if I tried just humming through her questions, she’d get more and more insistent in her asking. What do you do when the child just WON”T quit asking the question til they get some kind of answer?

    • if the usual I wonder that too, or I am not sure, I will have to think about that doesn’t do the trick, humming/singing/launching into a poem or song, giving them something physical to do whilst they ask you something, giving them direct eye contact (are you not looking so they just fire away over and over?), then I think gently asking them what they think the answer is is okay. Chances are at that point they are going to come up with something more imaginative than you will at that moment!
      Do check out “The Need to Know” link for many, many more suggestions….

  6. Hi Carrie

    Thanks for the post, I also reread ‘The need to know”. I have been doing so well but after attending a birthday party with a non-Waldorf family I was doubting myself. It seems as if I make things ‘harder’ than they need to be. So I needed a good dose of Waldorf inspiration tonight! And a reminder off all the reasons why we have taken the Steiner road and looking to the future to the adults these beautiful children will become.

    Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas season.

    • Maggie,
      Did you try the “Need to Know” post — there was a decent list if you scroll down to the end…Did that help or did you need more thoughts?
      Many blessings,

  7. Yes Carrie, I did and we do all those things already pretty consistently. The one thing our ds could be involved more is practical work around the home but other than that I can not find much else that we could do. He does help a lot already in the eyes of people outside the family but I guess maybe more regular work would be good. But I am not so sure that that minor change will have the desired effect of chatting less. I’ll give it a try. Thanks.

    • Maggie – What about moments of making silence? Whilst on nature walks, right before meals, prayers…working on slowly integrating those times of reverence, awe, wonder and yes, silence. 🙂
      Balancing and harmonizing….
      Many blessings,

  8. We do have to create more quite times during our days I think. We do prayers before meals, bedtime, on the weekends and are quite good about creating reverent and wondrous moments throughout our days to be honest, but I think the introduction of a quite time might be helpful.

    Once ds stopped napping we had quite time in our rooms, but since about a year he has not liked to be on his own and in his room. So I left it. I might just re-introduce it again.

    It is funny, all the things you mention we do and we even get a lot of compliments from family and friends on how reverent, polite he is and how easy it is to make our son happy but silence somehow has gone amiss.

    I think I will try to introduce a quite time again.
    Thank you Carrie!

    Merry Christmas!

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