It seems unbelievable. Some children constantly ask the same questions repeatedly, day in and day out. Trying to be patient, you answer. Then, you answer again. And then again.
It can be annoying, irritating, and downright frustrating! So perhaps you come down firmly, and what happens? Then, your cunning son or daughter adjusts the question slightly and asks the same thing again. You then answer again.
Then tomorrow, you got through this again. And again. And again.
What’s the deal? They don’t do this at school. They don’t do this with their coach. They don’t even do this with the neighbor. Sometimes they question ridiculous things you are confident they know the answer to. And other times, they relentlessly keep negotiating over limits. Why do they ask for more when you have said no a hundred times? Why do they keep whining when you ask them to stop? Why don’t they get it?
One answer could be that you relent and give in to them. This isn’t good; you don’t need me to emphasize that. For most of you reading this, however, that’s not the case. You likely hold your ground, yet the questions persist. What gives Dr. Cale?
Here’s the secret: They keep asking BECAUSE we keep answering!
I know it sounds too simple, but it is that unpretentious. Children keep asking the same old questions because we keep answering in some way, shape, or form.
It’s not that they are forgetful. It’s not that they think the rules have changed today. It’s not that you have been unclear. It’s not that they are missing some brain cells, either!
They do know the answer. And it would be best if you trusted this. They are bright, competent, and capable. They are only asking because we keep answering. Thus, the solution is relatively simple if we want them to stop asking repeatedly.
Stop Answering The Same Questions Over and Over!
Shift your attention away from repeated asking. You can’t easily force them to stop asking. (If you could, I wouldn’t write this article as you would have solved the problems already.) But you can easily discipline yourself to stop answering the same old questions, right?
And what will happen when you stop answering? They will undoubtedly keep asking, but louder and more frequently. That’s right. It will get worse before it gets better.
But, if you consistently put your energy and attention elsewhere while they ask the same questions, life will improve. There will be a few very tough days. But you must persist here and ignore these repeated questions with silence and disinterest as the only response.
Is there a way around the inevitable misery? Yes, at least a dramatic shortcut, and here it is:
Make A ‘You Know The Answers’ Poster
I enjoy keeping life simple, and here’s an excellent tool for repeated and frustrating questions. Get some poster paper, and write down a LONG list containing every question already answered in your home. Write the question and the answer. Leave some room at the bottom to add some more questions.
It will include items like keeping their phone in bed, watching more TV, staying up late on school nights, what kind of snacks they can have, and so forth. This is only the beginning. You will quickly come up with your list.
Remember: Write the answer next to each question—short and simple answers.
Then, show your kids the poster and put it on the wall. Next, explain in detail that from this point forward, whenever they ask one of those questions, you will ignore them and walk away. You might point to the poster, but you will not answer.
This is their cue to search for the question and answer on the wall. (They will not even need to go to the list, as they know the answers.) But this process dramatically reduces the painful learning curve as you change your strategies.
Trust me on this: within a week or so, no more repeated questions and MUCH more ease in your home. Let me know how this works out for you!