Monday, 4 March 2013


Why, why, why????  It's all I seem to hear at the moment from L - who's almost 3. It was the same with the Boys, so I wasn't expecting any different with the Wee Girlie - how else is a toddler to learn without questioning everything they come across?

What other 'question' words should my toddler be using?  Well, it depends very much on where you're from it would seem.  As an English mummy 'Why?' is the word I expect most - probably closely followed by 'How?'.  Not so in Germany it would seem.

Last week we were at the Kinderarzt for the U7a the 34-36month developmental check-up (more on 'U-Appointments') and had the usual forms to fill in on what your child can do.  At the 2 and 3 year checks, this is concentrated on speech and social skills - so which words they use independently from a long list (not what they'd parrot after you) and how they interact with others / in certain situations - i.e. if a stranger approached them.

One of the speech parts of the questionnaire this time concerned what question words your three year old uses.  Did they use the following words:

  • Wie? - how?
  • Was? - what?
  • Wo? - where?
  • Wohin? - where to?
I was very surprised to see that Why? (Warum?) didn't feature on the list. Now my three year old chatterbox uses all of the above - but her top word is most definitely WHY? repeated a myriad of times over the most mundane of things.... the temptation to say 'because I said so' is very difficult to resist!!

So do German children not ask Why? - is it a cultural thing that they are not encouraged to question the way things are?  If you ask Herr EE, from his experience in the work place he would say yes - there seems to be no questioning of 'why' things are being done just a propensity to say 'no I'm not going to do it'.....!

Is it so expected that Why? is the question word of choice that it's not even worth asking about it - I have my doubts here given the German propensity to double check everything.... their thoroughness would not allow them to miss out something so important as 'Why?' nor indeed to make the assumption that everyone uses it.

Of course, I forgot to ask the Kinderarzt why (!) it wasn't on the list - I'm certainly always querying why he does certain things - what the need for them is and I get the impression that it is not the norm among his patients - but what that is down to of course is still up for debate.

So 'Why?'  Do / did your children use it incessantly, is it an Anglophone thing, or are your experiences of other cultures such that the use of 'Why?' is common to all childrens' development? 


  1. Bit of Dutch for you (guess it might be similar in German?)

    Why is Waarom
    Daarom means that's why

    So there is a phrase "Waarom? Daarom" (Why? That's why".)

    A dutch friend translated it into English as Why? Dhy.

    1. Indeed it seems to be the case in German too - Warum (why) and Darum (that's why - among other things....!)

  2. That is fascinating. My kids have grown up in an English household but looking back they did not use Why? very often. Their question of choice was Do? closely followed by Does? Ie Do dogs like to play? Does snow make you wet?

    They must have just left out the why.