Can you really get a response from a two-year-old, the first time you ask something?
Let’s be honest — They are the busiest people in the house. Really! No sarcasm or pun intended.
They have a mind of their own, are always into something and don’t care at all about what’s happening around them.
While they love our attention and care. Everything around them is very exciting to them, everything is very new and they want to know everything about everything.
So they’re not really listening to you. Heck, they’re not even listening to their own feelings of hunger or tiredness.
You can find more on this “not listening nature of kids” in this post: The Psychology Behind Why Kids Don’t Listen.
And more on “not listening to their own feelings of tiredness and hunger” in this post: Why do kids whine, and what to do about it.
Why Don’t they stop to answer you!
But as caregivers, we need to make sure they’re comfortable. So we need to ask questions for that.
What do you want to do?
Are you hungry?
Are you ready?
Will you help me clean up?
But, all these questions fall on deaf ears, most of the time!
It’s not just your child, and you’re not alone into this.
All 2 yr olds are like this.
If your child is listening to 1/3rd of what you ask them or tell them, they are developmentally at the right spot where they need to be.
The reason for this is: It takes time for a 2 yr old to formulate an answer, it’s not instantaneous or as easy as it is for us.
They always have an entire train-of-thought going on behind everything they are doing, and it’s difficult to stop it and formulate an answer for your question.
And unfortunately, stopping their work to answer to your questions is not their priority for them.
Their priority is learning more about what is in their hand right now, they’re very “In the moment”.
They’re not being disrespectful, they don’t even think like that. They’re just challenged with multitasking.
An analogy for this would be a time you are doing something really important like filling a form or doing something new on the internet that takes all your attention when you are asked a question by someone else, you don’t respond with all your heart. It’s the same for them.
How to make them answer your question?
Now for the Billion Dollar Question: How to make them answer your questions?
There is a simple solution to this :
Ask your questions in a YES or NO form.
It is developmentally appropriate for them and it’s easier for you to get an answer this way.
To answer your questions in a yes or no, they don’t have to stop that train of thought! Just put some brakes for a little moment to understand your question and answer it.
To get an answer to your question:
I would get close to the child, come down to their level and ask them the question.
If they don’t respond.
Say this – “answer me in a yes or no”.
You should get an answer, with this tactic.
You don’t have to sound bossy or dominating, you’ll get your answers better if you ask them with love and assertiveness. No need for “pleases” either.
But, there is a thing to remember —they will not answer what you want to listen, they’ll answer what they want to say.
In other words when they say YES they mean YES, and you will have to believe that.
And, when they say NO, they mean NO.
Sometimes; the answer is going to be just a NOD or a SHAKE of the head, but that’s what it is.
We need to be open enough to accept their answers. And, this is the discrepancy, I see so many times.
It’s a Sure-shot Fool proof Solution!
I have tried and tested this method with my two-year-old and with my baby, and it does work every-time (give or take a few silences).
And it’s not just my kids; every child that I have asked a question to in a Yes or No format, has always given me the correct answer, but the key is to believe in that answer.
I have had people tell me, their child doesn’t even answer in a yes or a no.
If this is your child then you need to be persistent with this method.
They’ll get a hang of it.
It’ll be uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s a very effective tool.
This is a habit-forming technique. It’s a beautiful tool to built trust in your relationship.
Think about it, wouldn’t it be amazing to have this deep trusting relationship with your child life-long. Where they always answer you and you always trust their answers!
UPDATE: Now my 3 yr old uses this technique with my toddler, who is in the phase of always being busy in her work. When he wants to talk to her and she’s to busy yo answer; he’ll say -“Siya, answers me do you want this, Yes or No”.
And undoubtedly it’s the cutest sight for me!