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Repetitive Questioning: How To Handle This Peculiar Toddler Behaviour

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Are you a mom dealing with a toddler who is highly inquisitive and is never done asking the same question for about ten thousand times? Are you losing your sanity to the ‘why’s’ and ‘what’s’ of things? Well, then you must read this article to understand about this peculiar toddler behaviour- repetitive questioning and know how we can deal with it. 


Ms A- Mumma, what is this?

Me- Baby, this is a hanger.

Ms A- Mumma, what is this?

Me- It’s a hanger for clothes, baby.

After 2 minutes :

Ms A- Mumma, is it a hanger?

Me- Yes. It’s a hanger

Ms A- Mumma, what is this?

Me- It’s a blue colour hanger for your clothes.

Ms A- Blue colour?

Me- Yes, see it’s blue colour.

Ms A- Mumma, what is this?

Me- It’s a hanger. (fading tone)

That’s how my conversation sounds like with my two year old toddlers who keep asking the same question on loop for almost 10 thousand times, in spite of being given the same answer everytime.

Well, whoever said raising kids requires a lot of patience wasn’t completely right! It not just requires patience but also hell lot of creativity, and an ability to answer the same thing in the most unique manner for the thousandth time! Atleast that’s what my two year old toddlers expect from me. Their curiosity just doesn’t seem to satiate with my simple answers and they push me to the brink of my creativity and at times my sanity too.

How to handle repetitive questioning by toddlers

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Both A&A are highly observant and curious kids. I think most kids at their age are inquisitive by nature and want to know about everything that’s happening around them. As a parent it does feel good to see our kids growing to have a mind of their own and understanding things in their own unique way, however there also comes a point when we tend to get intimidated not knowing how to handle this behavior.

I always thought kids resort to repetitive questioning in order to gain our attention but a bit of research on google made me know that there is more to this. There is a science behind this toddler behavior. I realised that –

  1. This specific behaviour is a part of their development process.
  2. Kids are naturally curious and find comfort in repeating and replaying questions. It’s their way of seeking emotional support and acknowledgement.
  3. At this age they are trying to work on their speech, language, vocabulary, memory etc all together and so they need some time for all the information to register and sink in. Hence they keep asking repeatedly.
How To Deal With Repetitive Questioning By Toddlers 

Frankly, I have practiced all methods to deal with this behaviour aspect. I have tried distraction and realises that only works temporarily. I have also tried to ignore them and choose not to respond after answering three or four times but that still doesn’t work. Most of the time it leaves the kids grumpy, frustrated resulting in further screaming and shouting.

So I started trying different other strategies and luckily some of them has been working well. Here is what I usually do-

  1. Answer in detail – I try to answer the question they ask in maximum detail. So the answer to ‘what is this‘, when pointing to a hanger is not just a simple ‘ it’s a blue colour hanger’ but more like ‘it’s a blue colour hanger on which we hang clothes and keep them in the Almirah’ or ‘it’s the hanger on which we hang all your dresses and shirts and arrange in the almirah’. Providing extra information certainly helps in feeding their urge to know more.
  2. Encourage them to repeat words– I pick up a few words from my answers and encourage them to repeat it a few time, emphasizing on its tone, pronunciation and meaning. That helps them register new words while also verbally practicing them.
  3. A question for a question– Sounds tricky but actually isn’t! So I answer their question with another question. ‘What is this‘ is usually followed by ‘what do you think it is’ or ‘what does it look like‘ or ‘which colour is this‘ , etc. This encourages them to start thinking on their own and make a few connections.
  4. Throw the same question back– After answering them a couple of times, I then try to ask the same question to them. Call it a revision of sorts but this helps them to recollect and register what they have been hearing.

I realised repetitive questioning is a common behavior trait among toddlers that reflects their inquisitiveness and an ability to make sense of their environment. And so, it needs to handled appropriately by us, so that their curiosity is fed and they get a positive learning environment. The only  key for parents is to stay patient, calm and just keep answering.


Did you find this post useful? How do you deal with repetitive questioning by your toddler? Share your views in the comments below.

Also read: Do Not Sacrifice For Your Kids: Simply Live and Let Live 


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Comments:

18 responses to “Repetitive Questioning: How To Handle This Peculiar Toddler Behaviour”

  1. Prerna Wahi says:

    Interesting perspective on how to deal with the questioning. I enjoyed reading your post!

  2. Wonderful ways to deal and handle the zillion questions asked by our kids. Even I love handling them.

  3. A very interesting take on repetitive questioning by kids…The points shared sound really effective. I learned something new today…Only if i knew it when my kids were toddlers (sigh)

  4. I too follow a detailed response trick. This keeps my son a little occupied thinking and repeating those. Thanks for other tricks..Great post

  5. Oh My God! Tell me about it, Anjie has this queer habit of repeating the same question that aarya asks and i answer him. And if you don’t answer her, she keeps asking until you are exasperated and out of your mind 😦 I think I will use these tactics 🙂 Thanks Charu for these!

  6. Penguin turned two recently and his point-and-say game, where he points an item and I identify it or say something about it. This game is going on around the clock for the same item for hours. You rightly said, we need a creative answer to their questions and in detail. Much needed article for me.

  7. Neha says:

    Repetitive questioning tornado is something that I recently came out of 😛 I was exhausted at the end of each question cycle

  8. This is one useful parenting advice I have read in a long time. Thanks.

  9. Neha Sharma says:

    Such a wonderful post, Charu! In our case, answering & cross questioning makes the whole learning process more fun. Most of the times Nemit asks repetitive questions so that he can involve me in his play or when he needs me to pay more attention to him.

  10. Ashvini Naik says:

    Nobody could have explained it better than you, Charu. I’m dealing with the same thing right now. And literally now, my kid is screeching at me asking today’s date as I’m typing this out. 🙂 These are some really amazing tips to deal with the same repeated questions. In fact, they have unknowingly worked out for me whenever I’ve tried to be more patient & creative when I was free.

  11. Misha Jain says:

    Nice article. I too follow some of the strategies shared.

  12. Manjusha says:

    Such a relevant post for mothers. We all go through this phase and you actually reminded me of my days when I would be answering his never ending questions. Though never thought there was a science behind it, but thoroughly enjoyed those cute little questions 🙂

  13. My little one is going through this phase and I actually start giving different answers to his same question after 1-2 times. This ways he himself starts answering and quickly jumps to a new question. It can be exhausting but never mind. In a few years they will be on their own anyway and won’t need us as much as they do now.

  14. When some one asked me have u seen all wonders in the world I say yes i see In my daughters eyes daily as when u see world thru a kids eyes, every thing seems to be wonder of the world… Isn’t it

  15. although its very annoying this habit of questioning is very conducive to brain development. I try not to get irritated and answer my son in great detail as you’ve mentioned too. I blogged about this on https://mommyingbabyt.com/question-everything-encourage-children-question/

  16. I try to be patient with SnS when they are in asking million questions mode. But sometimes “What do you think?” works best when I want them to stop talking & start thinking for a moment of peace. Loved this article!

  17. Anks says:

    Oh I use the question and revision method too. I don’t answer in detail consciously but it is good advice and will surely try it 🙂

  18. Ditto! I ask him back-“you tell what it looks like or what it should be”. A loosely answered question is definitely an invitation to trouble.

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