Being an entrepreneur can be exhausting at times. Add parenthood to the equation and exhaustion becomes a certainty. So, when you ask your child(ren) to complete everyday responsibilities and they toss out the inevitable "why," it can be frustrating.

Does this conversation look familiar?

Connor, brush your teeth.


Because it's time for bed, now go brush your teeth.


Because you need to get some sleep.


And so it goes. Why, why, why? What's a tired parent to do, but resort to four words that get the results they are looking for?

Because I said so!

This response is effective and it seems harmless enough, but when you examine the reason that children ask so many questions you may change your mind. Especially if you want your child to grow up with two of the most important qualities needed to become a successful entrepreneur: curiosity and problem-solving ability.

According to this study, children ask questions to advance their brains to adult-like states. They gather information all day long to create an efficient mechanism for cognitive development. This process changes their knowledge state in a way that allows them to productively solve a problem.

Resorting to, because-I-said-so discourages kids to dig for answers and may dampen this portion of their cognitive development. It also squelches their curiosity; another critical quality for a successful entrepreneur.

If your child asks you "why" three times and you respond with the outdated but effective four-word answer, he or she will end their curiosity at two levels of depth. Entrepreneurs need to dig way deeper than two levels to unscramble problems and mysteries and to innovate. Parents unwittingly discourage their children from asking too many questions, when innovative entrepreneurs need to ask questions all day long.

You've watched a string of YouTube videos and read countless articles and books that reinforce the importance of knowing your "Why." We can't expect our children to come full-circle after we've diminished the importance of this simple, yet complex, question.

The next time your exhausted self wants to slam the proverbial gavel to end the debate, consider a more thoughtful answer. Or, engage your child's cognitive processing ability by turning the tables with a powerful question of your own:

Connor, brush your teeth.


Ahh, you tell me why.

Published on: Apr 1, 2019
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