Kids ask questions every day – what are we so afraid of?

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learning kids

Kids are naturally curious…

They ask all kinds of questions.  Some of them seem redundant and even pointless to us but they are a valuable tool to help the child in understanding a concept or process.  It is also how they learn.  And why they are very successful.  I heard a staggering statistic the other day that prompted the subject for this post…”On average, kids ask 144 questions each day.”  EACH DAY!  Without much to go on, I would suggest that those questions are asked by the children aged 3-10 regardless of where they live or how they are raised.  144?  144!  That is a lot of questions…

And then I started wondering how many questions I might ask in a given day, but then I realized something.  The reason kids ask that many question is different from the reason adults ask questions.  Their questions are more based on fact, like “how many legs does a butterfly have?” (they have 6 legs) and our questions are less definitive, like “what shall I cook for dinner?” (we are having chicken).

In 5th grade, we were given an assignment to draw a picture and write a short story that would go with the picture.  Or at least that is what I thought I heard we were told to do. So I started to draw my picture and as I looked around at my classmates and their drawings, mine looked completely different.  Like we were given two different assignments.  So I was faced with a dilemma and I was unsure of how to change it.  My stomach was turning and my hands were getting sweaty as the moisture began to soak into the crayon wrapper. What to do…what to do… I always had very high expectations of myself in school and didn’t want to bring unwanted attention to myself by asking a question.  No, I was better off just completing what I had already started and explaining what had happened later.  I was not a lazy student and yet I embarrassed easily.

We can all remember a moment when we were afraid to ask a question and I recall a teacher reminding me again in school, “There is no such thing as a dumb question” or “The only dumb question is the one you never ask.” But that just made me even more nervous because now everyone knew what I was thinking — that it was a dumb question. I was thinking about the question I was about to ask, wondering if there was any other way to get an answer.  I was second guessing myself already.  Now I felt like every eye was staring at me, and I wished I had never raised my hand.  And yet my hand was already in the air (kind of) as my teacher approached me to figure out what I needed,

(It turns out that I had heard the assignment correctly, but chose to do it differently.)

But when did I become the kid who was terrified of asking a question instead of the one that averages 144 questions a day?  I was mortified to think I would ever ask another question that day let alone any other that school year.  Are you kidding me?

learning girls reading

What happens to the learning we get from questions being answered and why are adults so opposed to it?

When did asking a question become a bad thing and something to be ashamed of?  A former co-worker was asked to organize that I would eventually run and should have been something I was assigned to do, but I found out later that it was given to her for a reason — because I “ask too many questions.”  Asking questions helps me understand the process.  It validates the reasons why.

Here is the hang up with adults — we have forgotten why the question is being asked and the motive behind it.  Why do kids ask questions?  To learn something.  Why do adults ask questions? To question the assignment and/or the person making the assignment.  When did asking a question become so personal?  The question isn’t personal, therefore, the answer shouldn’t be.  And adults need to stop over thinking the reason for asking the question in addition to trying to analyze everything about the question.  Good grief.

Ask the damn question.  You heard me.  Whatever it is.  Just ask it.  Quit being afraid of how the question will be heard and what the answer will be.  Life is full of questions and they only way to get through life with answers is to first ask the questions.  Stop looking at your co-worker’s work and comparing it to yours — maybe you were given two different tasks to complete or maybe you just have two different ways of completing the same task.  And if you don’t understand, raise your hand.  Who cares what others think?  Stop letting your fear stop you from gaining more knowledge and learning more.

Chinese proverb fool and question

[bctt tweet=”Figure out your question and ask it. Even if you repeat yourself. #question #answer”] Kids do it all the time.  And maybe we can learn a thing or two from them for a change instead of the other way around. It’s about time.

Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©


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