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Family Friday: "Why Can't I See My Own Eyeballs?" - Answering Your Child's Existential Questions

September 18, 2020:


Kids ask some heavy questions. As early as 4 years old, children may ask the adults around them some seriously difficult-to-answer (and sometimes hilarious) questions about what it means to exist as a human on this planet.

In different ways through various developmental stages, kids are learning crucial things like trust, independence, efficacy, morality, and identity. It’s much easier to learn how to exist, than why, and kids are incredibly curious about the latter. Adults take many things for granted and are also often uncomfortable thinking about unanswerable questions. So, what do you do if a child asks you something like “Why can’t I see my own eyeballs?” or “What’s the point of doing anything if we’re just going to die?”

My policy when talking with kids and teens is to be honest, flexible and age-appropriate. When kids ask massive questions, you don’t have to be an expert. They’re exploring, and they invited you to the adventure. You can share what you believe and how you got there, and also let them know that there are many ideas in the world. This promotes a sense of wonder, and increases tolerance and curiosity for different perspectives.

It’s important to ask your child what they think about their question, and what they think and feel about the process of talking it out. Exploring existential questions with children also allows them to become independent thinkers, learn how to question themselves and others, and develop a greater understanding of the impact of their feelings, actions, and thoughts.

What’s the craziest/heaviest/deepest question a kid has ever asked you?


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