The Why Phase With My Toddler

We’ve been in grips of the why phase for some time now.

“Why didn’t we run for the bus?”

“Why have you got lines on your face?”

“Why don’t some people have beds?”

“Why did I wear a skirt?”

“Why is daddy ill?”

“Why do you want to go to bed?”

These are just some of the amusing and heart-wrenching questions that come out of my son’s mouth on a daily basis now that we have entered the why phase. Whether you’re a parent or not, you’ve probably given that sympathetic, knowing nod when you’ve heard a child questioning their parent over and over again because, quite frankly, it looks exhausting and difficult. So imagine my surprise when I realised I actually love this phase. Seriously, this isn’t one of my crappy attempts at a humorous blog post, I genuinely do.

My son has been in the why phase for about six months. Sure, there are times when every response I provide elicits another why and another, and another, until I’m clutching at straws and silently begging for mercy, but there is so much in the why phase that I love.

I’ve suddenly realised I’m raising a person. The challenges in the first couple of years of parenthood can be so all encompassing that you can’t imagine what it would be like to have a real human living with you (or was that just me!). Those lovely, but quite honestly exhausting, repetitive and dull, tasks in the first year or so. Followed swiftly by the exhaustion that is the early toddler stage when it’s all about them running in the opposite direction and screaming blue murder about the way you cut up the toast. It clouds the real truth behind having a child. This why phase is teaching me that I didn’t just create a needy extra appendage, but another life, an independant one with his own opinions and interests.

I am all for the independence my little one is showing, but I also love the chance to brainwash influence him. Sure I know I can’t mould his personality and beliefs (completely) but I’m going to have fun trying. I have pretty strong opinions on a lot of things – fairness, equality, social justice – all the biggies. I love that I now have a little mind to discuss this with. Of course I simplify it down but my son already understands that he’s lucky with the hand he’s been dealt. Just the other morning he asked, “why am I having breakfast?” “Is it cause I’m lucky?” Yes son it is. I’m all for open talk about the ‘real’ issues – death, periods and love. Now he asks ‘why’ it helps me explain things in a way that’s appropriate for him – he stops the interrogation questioning once he ‘understands’ (in his own little way). Other times, when it’s too much, he jumps on my head or changes the conversation to poo, that soon puts a stop to mummy’s explanations. I for one, am loving passing on my beliefs and values to someone else.

As someone with strong opinions, it’s probably not unheard of for me to stick doggedly to my views, especially in the middle of a heated debate (who wants to lose one of those). Having the chance to explain the world to my son gives me the chance to dissect my own thoughts. Why do I do certain things? Why don’t I do certain other things? What is it I really think? The many layered ‘whys’ my son asks, require sifting through the chaff of my own opinions and finding what is at the core. The other day we found a (fully wrapped) cucumber on the pavement. There was no-one nearby and I didn’t think anyone was likely to come back looking for it, so we took it. Explaining why that wasn’t stealing but taking one from a shop display (also on the pavement) would be stealing, unearths a lot of opinions you never even knew you had. Breaking down the world into a simple what’s fair and what’s not, can be quite enlightening for adults too.

It’s not all about the state of the world today though, my son also asks a lot about practical things. Today I was explaining babies and the internal workings of the body. We got onto why babies need mushed up food and how stomachs work. As I was explaining I got to thinking how we are pretty impressive machines – it’s easy to forget this in the hustle and bustle of life. What’s more though, it’s made me realise I really don’t have much of a clue about certain things. Embarrassingly simple things if I’m honest. The practical and biological are my downfall and as I don’t have a partner to help fill in my gaps (and me his gaps), it makes me realise I need to get help (mainly in the form of google) to make sure that I can answer my sons questions and not tell too many lies just to stop the incessant questioning.

I have always wanted my son to understand why we do things, not just to follow rules blindly so, when my energy levels have allowed, I’ve tried to explain why rather than just say no. Much to others surprise I’ve often let him learn for himself why it’s not a good idea to do certain things if I don’t think they’re too dangerous. Like face planting off the sofa. He used to do it onto the cushions much to my mum’s concern. One day he missed the cushions – he’s never done it since. He knows now why it’s not a good idea. Lots of things can’t be experienced like that though, and now he asks why I can explain about the world and he can make his own judgements. As I write this he’s in the bath. I heard him put the tap back on and went to ask him to switch it off. He said it was so that the water wasn’t wasted and there would be more when he wanted it later. It’s true (sort of) and I love that he switched it off because he understood, rather than just because I screamed at him (I do also scream at him to do things – I’m no saint). It can be easy to get into a battle of the wills with a little one who seems to have contrary opinions on every.single.thing.ever, yet his incessant questioning reminds me that I need to explain things to him. Of course he uses this greater understanding to his own benefit too, he tells me that the trains are all shoved down the bed because of ‘gravity’ – oh, I’m sure it had nothing to do with you son. And he still thinks it’s funny to run down the street naked no matter how many times I explain to him why it isn’t, but hopefully one day the reasoning will sink in.

The most amazing thing about this why phase though is the affect it’s having on me. Slowly I’m starting to see the cloud of loneliness that is so common in early (single) motherhood, starting to lessen. I’ve been a single mum since my son was a baby so I don’t know if people with partners at home feel the same but I do know motherhood is tough however you do it. Walking down the stairs every night after putting my son to sleep as a baby was one of the loneliest things I’ve ever experienced and I experienced it every day. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why I put him to bed so late, to avoid those lonely evenings. Now though, it doesn’t seem so lonely when my day is full of words and talking. Sure, I only get about two minutes seconds into a topic before he screams cheese at the top of his voice and runs off. But in those fleeting moments I can imagine having a real person to talk to, someone who is around in the evenings and there when I wake up. To me that is a beautiful thing. So next time he’s driving me mad with his incessant whys and wherefores I’ll try to remember he’s learning to be him, and I’m getting to brainwash him influence his journey and reflect on what’s really important to me. Perhaps this why phase isn’t so bad after all.

Is there anyone else out there who is enjoying the Why Phase? What’s the best and worst thing about it for you? 


I don’t usually write such positive things about toddlers in all honesty, so I’m not sure I can link you up with any other similar posts from me. However, if you were actually looking for something vaguely humorous on toddlers then you could check this out and this. If you wanted a more raw, honest account of phases and toddlers then this is your best bet.

You can follow my blog on facebook. Just go to my page here and give me a like to stay up to date with my latest posts.  And follow me on twitter @EllamentalMama

why phase

88 comments on “The Why Phase With My Toddler

  1. What a lovely, endearing post! Made me smile. I’m a nanny and I know the ‘why’ phase can go on for a while and feel frustrating but as you say, they are becoming little people and challenging their surroundings and learning all the time! It’s wonderful really!

  2. We are going through a similar phase at the moment but it’s not jus “why” it’s every possible question about everything! e.g. “have you got spots?” “are they sore?” lol

    I do have a partner but the early stages of motherhood still got really lonely at times like when he was at work all day I’d literally be watching the clock for him to come home. And if he was later than expected i’d feel lost. Sad, but true. It’s all good now though, I think I’ve learnt how to manage my time so that I don’t really have lonely moments anymore. Blogging has helped a lot with that. This is turning into the longest comment ever so I will love you and leave you! Great post x

    • Haha. It’s fun isn’t it. I think early motherhood can be so isolating and lonely for so many people. Glad you found a good rhythm!

  3. Love this. I too love the why phase, although it can be a little challenging at times I love that my little boy is so interested in things.

  4. My daughter is only 11 months old, so isn’t at the ‘Why’ phase yet. It’ll be fun when she reaches it, I suspect. Thank you for sharing! #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. That’s a great way to look at it! I’m going to try to remember this when we get to that phase. #fortheloveofBLOG

  6. I liked it too – and completely understand what you mean about it signalling the start of having an actual person in your company. Having said all that, my daughter (nearly 4) is still very much enjoying the ‘why phase’ and at times I just want to dive out of the car (yeah, when it’s moving as well). #fortheloveofBLOG

  7. Ha ha yes WHY did you wear a skirt today????!! Oh the why phase… Don’t know if this is a good approach but I started asking my three year old “well why do you think that is”. Poor thing having an HR mummy. Always bouncing the question back to her! #fortheloveofBLOG Have fun co-hosting the linky!!

  8. I loved this, when I get the this phase I might need to get the encyclopaedia out, or home that knowledge I think I’ve lost to be replaced with nappy changing, sleep patterns and where Sophie le Giraffe might be will just come flooding back! I really enjoyed this but I’m also always up for some toddler humour so I’ll be back! #fortheloveofblog

  9. I too loved this phase, for one thing it makes you feel wise because you can explain why it rains!!Also like you say you realise your responsibilities and that you do have a bit of influence to explain to them that tricky things that might just help mould them into a fab human being. My teenagers haven’t yet grown out of this phase yet but unfortunately now trust Google more than mum!!#fortheloveofBLOG

    • Wow, never really thought about how this phase is never ending with them! I’m sure they know mum knows better than google really 😉

  10. I love the questions too; I love having proper conversations with Amelia about real things, and like you it’s made me really think about my views and opinions. In fact, there have been times when I’ve really started breaking it down for her I’ve realised I don’t know anymore why I feel a certain way, and I’ve re-evaluated. Also I genuinely lost a cucumber a few weeks back so I reckon you owe me one hahahaha!! #fortheloveodBLOG

    • Exactly, sometimes you’ll like oh yeah why do I do that. Haha, sorry, send me your address and I’ll post one over to you 😉

  11. My boy is aaall about ‘why’ at the minute. It does drive me crazy when he asks why after I’ve already told him but I do love that he is so curious about everything and wants to know so much about the world he lives I’m xx #fortheloveofblog

  12. I remember whenever my mother bumped into a friend in town before they had left earshot we would says “whose that mummy?” My 4 year old now does this to me!!!!

  13. Yes! For all of the above reasons. My eldest is 4 and has been in the why phase for quote a while now. He talks constantly but has done since forever. He’s always been such good company. I never really understood lonely motherhood as my kids never shut up! #fortheloveofBLOG

  14. What a lovely post. It is so nice when they want to start to learn about the world around them. My daughter is 12 and still asks us questions about certain things, I am glad she is so open to learning.

    • That’s great, I hope my little one keeps asking, it’s a great way to open up conversations about some of the difficult things. Thanks for commenting

  15. My oldest is nine and the why phase has gotten worse. Now it has a snotty undertone to it that makes me see red. I am becoming the queen of “Because I said so!”


  16. Aah kids. We haven’t yet hit a full on why stage, we are safely in the no stage. No to everything! I’m not looking forward to why #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. It’s a cute phase of not a little enfuriating at times. I find myself coming out with phrases my parents used when I run out of answers! Like ‘because y has a long tail!’ It’s cringeworthy! ?? #fortheloveofblog

    • Haha, yeah I’m glad he can’t check my answers – I’m not sure they are very accurate half the time!!!

  18. I am looking forward to the why phase. I know what you mean about how lonely it can feel sometimes and I can’t wait to engage in a conversation with my daughter. And I also hope the why phase will make it impossible for her father not to put his phone down sometimes and attempt to answer a difficult question, or 50. I was talking about it with my friends who have older children this week and they said they have had to learn so much about things to help answer their kids’ questions. You rediscover the world all over again. Sorry that sounds cheesy. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • I love that – “You rediscover the world all over again”, I think you’re right. It’s so lovely to see things through their eyes and their wonder at the simple stuff, but it’s also really nice to learn all about how things work and why people do things too. Thanks for reading and commenting

  19. Its a hard balance between trying to help them learn about the world and their place in it and trying to get two seconds of peace and quiet! #fortheloveofblog

  20. I’m a long way off this phase, and hadn’t really contemplated it until I read this post. Now I’m really looking forward to it. Being able to help forge their understanding of the world and us rediscovering the world. It sounds amazing! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Arh, glad it’s got you all excited. It is a really lovely phase (even if sometimes a little exhausting!) Thanks for commenting

  21. The Why phase can be very educational. You realise how much you don’t know about science and basic evolution. I was constantly googling answers to the most amazing questions #FortheloveofBlog

  22. We haven’t reached the why phase yet but you’ve sold it in a very positive light! Your so right that it’s exciting to be able to help shape a person. I also can relate to the loneliness comment. I’m not a single parent but I used to find it lonely at times when my daughter was a baby and I got no response back. Especially when my husband was away with work. You feel much more sane having someone respond to you! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Yay, I’m glad I’ve got a convert to the why phase! I think all motherhood can be so lonely especially in the first months. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  23. I really agree with your attitude to the why phase. It’s such a great chance to teach our children and really just talk to them and spend time with them. My son is 5 and he’s only really now getting into asking about everything. It can be exhausting at times but it’s also lovely. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Glad you’re enjoying it too. It can certainly be exhausting at times but it seems kids always are!

  24. We’re not there yet. We’re still trying to understand basic words. But it sounds like you’re doing a great job. I hope I remember this post when we enter this phase. #fortheloveofBLOG

  25. Ah so it was YOU that took the cucumber that I lost out of the bottom of the buggy!! (That actually seriously happened to me!!) ? We’re not at the why stage quite yet, but you’ve given me hope that it might not be as tiring as I fear. Thanks for co-hosting #fortheloveofBLOG this week! 🙂

    • Haha, I’m going to get a reputation as the cucumber thief now aren’t I!!! Honestly there was noone anywhere near!!!

  26. An inquisitive mind is a brilliant thing! On our walk to school everyday we discuss whatever the kids want to and I am honest in my answers while keeping things simple and understandable for their ages (Donald Trump, Brexit, refugees, global warming, hunting, making babies, careers etc etc!) I hope they form their own opinions and learn to respect others’. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • That sounds fun (if a little full on for early morning!). My son keeps asking why Mr Trump isn’t kind – sometimes there’s just no answer for their questions!

  27. What a lovey post. I remember the why phase well, and we still get bouts of it. Part of me actually like it as it means I get to help her understand something and I love having little conversations with her. It can get tiresome though! Recently I had ‘why can’t I have babies with my brother when I’m older!!!’

  28. Oh how I’m looking forward to this phase! I’ve got a couple of years to read up the answers!! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Haha, I’d get reading if I was you – my son is only three and he still has me stumped half the time!!

  29. I’ve never really thought of it like this before. I know I have cursed the amount of questions being fired at me in the past and I certainly breath a sigh of relief when mine are in bed. Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my 6 year old and we chatted and shopped and she did as she was told…it was pure bliss! #fortheloveofBLOG

  30. We’re currently going through the why phase too… a year and counting! Drives me mad…

  31. This made me laugh, we just had a series of ‘why’s’ in the car today, in the end, it got so ridiculous I just started repeating ‘why’ back at him until we were both giggling! xx #fortheloveofblog

  32. Hi Ella
    Lovely to pop across here today. Boy, you can write! I really enjoyed reading this thoughtful and thought provoking post. I love where your mind takes you when you think about the questions your little one asks. I appreciate your honesty too…About the loneliness…I think that will be such a help to others, who feel like they’ve been alone in feeling that way too. #FOrtheloveofblog

  33. I am just entering this phase, I understand what you mean about the loneliness (in a different way) as a sahm and a hubby who works away, sometimes I won’t see another adult for days so its nice now that my eldest is asking about things! #fortheloveofblog

  34. this is such a lovely post. the why phase gives a little insight into the way their mind works and to what they’re showing interest in. I do remember asking my mum why people are called whores and i think she got a massive shock hahah! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Haha, love it. Thankfully my three year old hasn’t come out with any corkers just yet! Thanks for commenting

  35. My six year old is still in the “Why?” phase and although I love that he is so curious about the world I’m not so chuffed when he uses it more as an argument than a question!
    I love to ask why he thinks things happen and kind of flip it back on him, an insight into what goes on in those tiny heads is always amazing.

    • It is amazing isn’t it, seeing what they are interested in. Yeah not looking forward to it when it’s more about answering back. Good luck on dealing with that!

  36. I haven’t reached the ‘why?’ phase yet with my daughter, but this post has changed my perspective on it. Loads of my friends have said ‘just wait till she keeps asking why all the time!’ and I’ve anticipated this phase to be hugely time-consuming and a bit annoying. But you’re completely right – it’s such an important part of their development, and how you mould and raise them, that I’m now really looking forward to it! Thanks!

    • Yay, glad to have a convert to the why phase. Although it has it’s moments too! Thanks for reading and commenting

  37. I hate the why phase! It is so exhausting! I know it is such an important development phase and I want to nurture the curiosity but some days it is very hard to answer yet another question.

    • Arh, yes it can be exhausting too. I hope you’re little ones give you a break from it soon. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  38. I love this and you are so right, you are raising a little person. They are discovering the world that they are part of and just trying to make sense of it all. I think it’s a fantastic phase (looking back, but exhausting when you’re in it!!) Enjoy it while it lasts! #fortheloveofBLOG

  39. Ha ha – I wish I could agree and say I am loving it. I do on some days but not always – I’m just one ball of exhaustion at the moment and the combination of my almost four year old why-er and my 18 month old frustration bomb are tipping me over the edge! #fortheloveofBLOG

    • I’ve just got the one and often feel the exhaustion of it all and have no patience so I can only imagine with two little ones. Thanks for reading and commenting

  40. We’ve yet to go through the interrogation stage. #fortheloveofBLOG

  41. I haven’t got to the ‘why’ stage yet so this was lovely to read… Pretty sure we are not far off though so sure you’ll see me writing about it very soon! X #fortheloveofblog

    • Thanks Sarah. Looking forward to hearing all about it on your blog! Thanks for reading and commenting

  42. My daughter isn’t even talking yet, but I’m already dreading the why phase as I think it’ll be very exhausting and annoying! However, you have shown me that there are merits to it and I’m now looking forward to seeing the world through the eyes of a small person once again. #fortheloveofBLOG

    • Don’t worry you’ve got a while yet and it really isn’t as bad as you might think! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  43. The why phase forced me to stop and think about the actual whys behind some things. Often it was easy to answer, other times not so much. #fortheloveofBLOG

  44. That’s really a good way to look at it and I shall try to remember this. It sounds like you have a lot more patience than me though!! #FortheloveofBLOG

  45. Haha, I’m not sure about that. I am also known to say, ‘Because!’ and just hope he stops asking!

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