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Tackling Children’s Tough Questions

I recognize failure – which is important, some people don’t – and fix it, because it is data, it is information, knowledge of what does not work.
Toni Morrison

Cory Turner and Anya Kamenetz, writing on the NPR website, provide a guide for ways to tackle children’s really tough questions. Here are a couple examples of their ideas:

When you get a tough question, listen for what the child is really asking.

Don't rush to answer. Pause and ask for clarification. This does a few things. First, it buys you time to choose your words carefully. It also stops you from answering the wrong question.

Say: ‘That's a great question. Let's find out more together.’

This is a good response to have up your sleeve for complex issues: science, history, race, gender, politics, scary incidents in the news or any time a question catches you off guard. ‘We can say, let's explore this together, because that question is really a big one,' says Jeanette Betancourt, senior vice president for U.S. social impact at Sesame Workshop.”

Nick Terrones, in his popular new book, A Can of Worms: Fearless Conversations with Toddlers, shares his journey of learning to stop being afraid to address the big questions about life that toddlers are exploring. He provides an inspiring example to any early childhood practitioner of what it means to develop authentic relationships with children. He explains, “I am continually learning from toddlers—not only about who they are, but about who I am. They inspire me to remain steadfast in refining myself, which in turn encourages me to refine my actions with others.”

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