My daughter loves books and we regularly read tons of books to her everyday. She can sit and listen to the same book over and over for 30 min+. Earlier this week, we bought new books for her and these books have questions/games related to the stories at the end.

Sometime when she does not know the answer, she simply says she does not know and wants me to tell her the answer.

Another example is with an art and craft activity where she glues paper, feather, and beans to make animals. She holds the glue stick different from me and I would rather let her hold it the way she wants but my wife wants to tell her to hold it like us.

I was tempted to tell it to her the answer or what to do but I also want her to figure things out on her own. If she cannot do it yet then I will let her skip and come back later. I think if I just tell her the answer when she says she does not know then she will rely on me and does not want to think on her own.

Should I encourage her to figuring things out on her own? What are some good strategies to encourage my daughter to figure things out on her own? Any recommendations for this situation?

  • Do you try follow up questions or comments? For example: This is a duck. Can you say "duck"? Rather than letting her not know the answer or just giving the answer and moving on.
    – user20343
    Aug 16, 2018 at 18:03
  • Is your question Should I encourage... (as written in the title) or How to encourage... (as written in the body)?
    – Arsak
    Aug 16, 2018 at 19:39
  • @SiXandSeven8ths I have not tired that Aug 17, 2018 at 10:02
  • 1
    @Marzipanherz I actually want to know both and just updated my questions to reflect that Aug 17, 2018 at 10:03

3 Answers 3


Lev Vygotsky proposed the theory of scaffolding as a way of helping children learn. This entails giving the child the least possible help they need to accomplish a task..for instance if my two year old is doing a puzzle..I know that orientating all the pieces correctly is beyond the scope of what she can accomplish but she can put orientated pieces together.. so I will help with the orientation (and she generally watches closely as I do this)..and I will also step in at other times exactly two seconds before she is about to give up..with the amount if assistance that makes it just about achievable for her.


Of course you should encourage your child to figure things out. Sometimes it feels easiest to just give the answer, but it is also important to remember who you are helping: yourself or your child.

I'll offer some strategies for the specific situations you have described, then I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to extrapolate (i.e. figure it out yourself ;) ).

we bought new books for her and these books have questions/games related to the stories at the end.

Read the questions or game instructions, but do not pressure your child into answering if she feels she cannot do it or doesn't know. Instead, offer incentive:

You: Hm. I guess we'll have to give it some thought.
Her: Yeah. Hmmmm...

You: Maybe you're not old enough yet to answer this.
Her (later): Daddy! I'm old enough to answer this now!

You: Maybe the answer is [something preposterous]...
Her: No, silly. Elephants don't have wings! I think it's probably...

As for the glue stick, leading by example works just as well on kids as it does on adults. If you feel the need to say something, highlight that it isn't wrong to hold it her way.

That's an interesting way to hold a glue stick! This is the way I hold mine...

Make sure you have a second glue stick (or a substitute like a pencil or fork or something) to demonstrate with instead of taking the glue stick from her hand.


Should you allow your daughter time to figure things out on her own? Yes.

In my personal experience I have witnessed my son gain great satisfaction from struggling through a puzzle and then figure it out on his own. I would not be surprised if your daughter is the same way. Struggling through a problem builds focus, perseverance and confidence to face unknown situations.

How you do this depends on how new the situation is to her and the level of her frustration. When she says "I don't know." Ask her what she thinks it might be or give her a multiple choice selection. Praise even the guess - what you are aiming for is positive reinforcement of trying for the answer.

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