When your kid repeats their question two, three, or 14 times (who’s counting?), here’s what to do, according to a child behavior analyst
We’ve all been there with kids of a certain age: Said child will ask the same question over and over…and over…and over. It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. You wish it would stop—but how? Mandy Grass, a behavior analyst and parent coach, has some tips that parents can use to help combat repeat queries and (hopefully) get some relief.
In a recent video, Grass describes her approach to responding to the redundant questioning of toddlers and younger kids.
Step 1. “The first thing is when I first answer my child, I’m going to give them as much detailed information as possible,” she says. For example, with a kid who keeps asking about going to the movies, you can go beyond a simple “yes” answer and dive into specifics: “Yes, we’re going to the movies. We’re going at 6 p.m. We’re leaving the house at 5:45. We’re going with Joey. We’re going to get popcorn.”
She adds, “I want to be as specific as possible so it reduces the other questions that come.” Doing this may reduce anxiety or uncertainty about the plans ahead. Or perhaps it’ll just help to sate their curiosity.
Step 2. The second time the child asks, she suggests writing down the information in a note. It’s important to recognize this will only work for a slightly older child who can read or recognize words. But by giving them something to reference, you can then start limiting your responses on subsequent times they ask. If they keep repeating the questions, for example, don’t even answer—simply point to the note.
Step 2b. An alternative for younger kids who can’t read is to ask, “Do you know the answer to that?” Odds are, they do because you’ve already discussed it.
Step 3. Later in her video, Grass also goes more into the reason kids this age often go into parrot mode. “Sometimes kids ask redundant questions because they don’t know what else to say,” she explains. “We’ve eliminated the uncertainty, right? They know what’s happening because we’ve laid it out and we’ve written it down for them.
So the next thing might be to ask a question like, ‘I wonder if we’ll be able to get popcorn,’ or ‘I wonder if they’ll have Buncha Crunch’ or something else about the movie. This helps facilitate the conversation and come up with other questions.” Turns out, plenty of kids just want to yip it up.