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How does a child’s questioning contribute to their problem-solving abilities?

little girl asking questions

Key points:
1. Answering a child’s questions fosters cognitive development, stimulating reasoning and problem-solving skills.
2. Cognitive skills develop between 36 and 48 months of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
3. Question-asking is a natural way preschool children learn about the world and problem-solving.
4. Children use new information from answers to change their understanding of a problem and solve it.

Every time you answer one of your child’s questions, you are actually fostering their cognitive development! Specifically, you’re stimulating their reasoning and problem-solving skills which, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, are developed between 36 and 48 months of age.

A developmental psychologist and researcher from the University of California, doctor Michelle Chouinard, decided to further study how kids use questions in order to solve problems. In 2007, she looked at the link between the children’s questions and whether or not they actually gained new information from the answers in order to solve a problem. A group of 4-year-olds were asked to figure out what a hidden object inside a box was. Half of them were allowed to ask questions about the object to help themselves, while the other half had to guess blindly.

As you can imagine, there were lots of different ways in which the young kids could’ve used the questioning opportunity in distracting ways, but this wasn’t what happened! Children that asked questions were significantly more likely to identify the hidden object, which indicates that preschoolers actually use the new information to change what they know about a problem in a way that allows them to solve it.


What this study tells us is that question-asking is one of the ways in which preschool children naturally learn about the world. The questions they ask might seem random, but in fact they are directly related to both their surroundings and stimuli, and where they are in their cognitive development. You can expect your kid’s questions to get more complex as they age, but soon you will also start to notice that your little one draws conclusions without having to ask you for the answer.

So, enjoy this moment and remember that your child’s capacity to ask questions is a very powerful tool that will accompany them throughout their life through curiosity, problem solving, and conceptual reasoning skills.

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