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Anxiety In Children

Question:

My son is 4 years old and has always asked an inordinate amount of questions. Within the past 3 to 4 months, the number of questions has increased to the point that being around him is draining. Sometimes, he asks kneejerk "why" questions after everything I say. Sometimes he asks good, insightful questions and other times he asks questions about things we’ve discussed and I know he already knows the answer. I’m undecided as to whether the constant questions are attention-seeking, whether it’s anxiety-related or whether he simply doesn’t know how to interact with us. I tell him that I’d like him to tell me things without asking me questions – but it’s futile. We instituted a point system where he can earn points for positive behaviors and lose points for asking questions "just to ask them" but it doesn’t seem to work. The questions are so rapid-fire that sometimes in the car, I have to put a ban on talking. He’s very articulate and my husband has speculated that he’s not sufficiently challenged but it seems to me if that were the case, he’d only be asking "insightful" questions. Any thoughts?

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Answer:

Though you are being besieged by endless "why" questions by your four year old son I rather doubt that anything is wrong. Yes, the endless "why" about all things big and small can become annoying to us adults, they seem to be a natural part of growing up and parents must learn to be patient and tolerant as best they can. You and I may experience the number of "why" questions as being inordinate but they do not. In fact, small children can play endlessly at anything long after we have grown bored.

Yes, some questions will seem to be insightful and some silly and others repetitive but they are all harmless. Yes, he may, at times, want to get your attention, but this is also nothing to worry about. No, the endless questions do not necessarily mean anxiety or any other problem.

All you can do, as parents, is answering the questions as best you can and then, just stop. You can also distract him with other activities such as trips to the zoo, reading to him, going to the library, teaching the beginnings of the alphabet, and even send him to Pre School with other four year olds. Yes, you can set limits but I don’t think point systems will work. Just tell him to stop for now.

Basically, if your son is eating well, growing normally, sleeping well, and seems happy then there is nothing to worry about. Have a sense of humor about this. He will out grow it. Learn to become deaf when the questions become too much. This, too, shall pass!

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