Repeating Questions Over and Over

Website-Photos-041Dear Miss Faith,
My 2 year old repeats herself over and over and over again, to the point that i get soooooo frustrated. I mean i answer her in as many creative ways as i can think of. She kept saying i want a glass of milk, and i said yes when we get home. Then she kept asking– so I kept finding new ways to help her to feel heard, like “you really want a glass a milk eh?” ”You are going to have a big glass of milk when we get home in your pink cup”, ”when are you going to have some milk sweetheart? then she said “at home” but then it just keeps going on and on and on, the whiny request for milk….and i go CRAZY…..

Dear Mama,
I’ve had similar experiences with many kids! It sounds like you’re on the right track, but then things go awry.

Here’s what I do, which tends works pretty well: As soon as I’m pretty sure she knows the answer, I start by turning the question around so that she can answer it herself. This way I can be happy for her display of knowledge, instead of annoyed to be repeating the same thing over and over again. Often times this periodic shared enjoyment of their knowledge is enough to stop the question from coming back too often. But not always. If it keep coming back after that, then your child is letting you know that they need help getting their mind off of the thing that they can’t have yet. Let me give you an example of how such an interaction might go, and I might help them move beyond the question:

Chandra: I want a glass of milk.

Me: Yes, you can have some before naptime.

Chandra (a minute later): I want a glass of milk.

Me: Yes, you can have some before naptime.

Chandra (a few minutes later): I want a glass of milk.

Me: Yes! When CAN you have your milk?

Chandra: Before naptime?

Me: That’s right! Before naptime! You know when you’ll have it!

Chandra (a few minutes later): I want a glass of milk.

Me: Silly child! When will you have your milk?

Chandra (proudly): Before naptime!

Me: Yes! You know the answer! (because she’s said it proudly, and not despondently, I think we’re in the clear, but then…)

Chandra (a few minutes later): I want a glass of milk.

Me: Wow, it’s hard to wait, isn’t it?

At this point, Chandra is likely telling me that she needs some help to get her mind off her glass of milk. So I’ll start talking about something vaguely milk-related, to engage with her and help her move on. Here are some possibilities:

-Tell the Story of Milk: ”Do you know the Story of Milk? Well. Let me tell you. When a mama cow has a baby, her body will make milk for her baby calf to eat. Just like my body made milk for you, when you were born. But after the baby calf grows into a bigger cow, then the farmer comes every morning, and every evening, and collects that mama cow’s milk, to send to the grocery store for little boys and girls like you to drink. As long as the farmer comes and collects the milk every day, that mama cow will keep making the milk for us.” (You can do “the Story of” for any food, drink, and many other things that you can describe how they’re made, as well.)

-Tell a story about when you were a child: ”You love your milk, don’t you? I love milk, too. Why, when I was a little girl… (and I might tell a story about visiting my great-uncle’s dairy farm, or leaving milk and cookies out for Santa, or running out of milk and having to mix up powdered milk, or anything else.)

-Say yes using your imagination. This one is especially useful if she’s getting upset because it’s so hard to wait: ”You wish you could have milk right now? OK, hold out your cup!” I hold out my hand with my fingers and thumb in a ring, to show her how. ”OK, here’s some milk for you!” I pretend to pour milk in her ‘cup.’ ”That looks so good, I think I’ll have some, too!” I pour pretend milk in my own ‘cup,’ then say, “cheers!” and clink hands with her, then pretend to take a long sip. ”Ahhhh, that’s the ticket! My milk is delicious! Is yours?”

If your child keep asking a question again and again, and answering it for herself a few times doesn’t seem to solve anything, then try one of these three responses and let me know how it goes! And good luck!

Warmly, ~Miss Faith

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