"Mommy, what color is the sky?"

"Mommy, why is the sky blue?""Why is the sky blue instead of green, Mommy?"

Persistent, repeated questions by youngsters on the same subject can drive the most devoted mother nuts.

How a parent responds to her child's insatiable curiosity can make a significant difference in how a child views himself, therapist Martha Smith Taylor told those attending the Utah Mothers State Conference Saturday.

Asking the same questions over and over is a child's way of finding security in his unstable world, Taylor said. It reassures him when he receives the same answer each time.

"A parent should never discourage questions, but you can channel the questions. Tell your child you would like to ask him some questions."

If a parent takes time to listen with sensitivity and patience to a child, when the child becomes a teenager, he will likely take time to listen to the parent in the same way, she said.

"The same curiosity and persistence that are maddening in children are the same qualities that are found in successful adults."

Taylor, who has worked at the Children's Center for 10 years, encouraged parents to spend concentrated time each day playing with their children.

Playing together does not necessarily mean spending time building a castle out of blocks. Setting the table or preparing dinner can also be play-time activities. Any time spent together can be playtime, she said.

"Time spent together is translated into being approved."

If a mother works, then the child will require a certain "mommy quota" when she returns home.

Remembering what it was like to be a 5-year-old or an 8-year-old helps parents become better "play partners."

"Share the kinds of activities you enjoyed as a child with your children, and you will feel more comfortable as a play partner and find your children enjoy the same kinds of things you did," Taylor advised.

When children are too young to talk, a parent will spend hours narrating what the world around him is like. A mother will talk non-stop about the infant's toys, sing to the child and express private thoughts. But for some reason, the narration and chatter seem to diminish when the child is old enough to begin talking himself - about age 3.

"It's important to keep talking to youngsters the way you chatted to your babe in arms," Taylor said. "Having discussions with your children - especially during playtime - enhances their learning and verbal skills."