LONDON — If you feel like your toddler endlessly bombards you with questions, it’s not just you: curious children ask an average of 73 a day, a new study finds.
Led by child psychologist Dr. Sam Wass, British researchers polled 1,500 parents across the United Kingdom, hoping to learn more about the frequency and nature of questions asked by inquisitive kids, along with how having to constantly craft responses affected parents.
While nearly a third of parents admitted that their child’s incessant curiosity tired them, about four in ten expressed pride at how their son or daughter seemed to take keen interest in their surrounding world.
Perhaps more importantly, parents struggled to answer about half of the questions that they were innocently asked, the researchers found, often turning to Google for a proper response.
They also realized that some parents found themselves fielding questions up to 14 hours a day, with most not finding reprieve until their child reached four years of age.
Fathers were more likely to be targeted than mothers (who reported fielding about 413 questions per week), and kids growing up in a large metropolitan area, such as London, seemed to ask the most questions — throwing about 93 questions daily to their parents.
“As children grow up, it’s natural to be curious about the world around them,” says Dr. Wass in a press release. “As parents, it’s easy to forget just how much of our children’s knowledge comes from what we tell them. But it can be tough to address the trickier topics— such as money and bedtime.”
While using search engines isn’t necessarily a bad approach, there may be better options for certain types of inquiries.
“Using educational and visual aids, such as toys, can help to soften the difficulty of broaching trickier subjects,” Dr. Wass explains. “Expressing complex thoughts and ideas through familiar items can often help children’s understanding.”
In case you’re wondering, here are the top 10 questions asked by children:
1. Why do people die?
2. Where did I come from?
3. What is God?
4. How was I made?
5. What does “we can’t afford it” mean?
6. Is Father Christmas Real?
7. Why do I have to go to school?
8. When you die who will I live with?
9. Why is the sky blue?
10. Why can’t I stay up as late as you?
Parents who feel as if they need to put a stop to the madness may want to consider their child’s surroundings: half of those surveyed said that questions only increased in number when their kid was around other adults.
Dr. Wass conducted his survey earlier this year in conjunction with Tots Town, a British toy retailer.