Pushing Your Buttons


It’s exhausting with the never-ending questions on why they have to go to bed at a certain time, why they can’t have cake for dinner, why they have to brush their teeth, why they can’t have candy, soda, or sugary cereal. On and on it goes.

Sorry to tell you. There is no quick fix.  There is no magic wand to make all of these questions disappear.

However, there is a three-part handy tip.  It’s one you can fit into your back pocket.  It works in every scenario and for every typical child.

Part 1:  Answer ALL of their questions.

Answer them with logic and completeness. Answer every single one. Period.

“Ugh,” you say,  “Answer all of their questions. Really? I want a quick fix.  I want an easy-how to.”

Well, this handy tip is not quick, but it’s effective and long lasting. You’re making an investment now to make your life easier later.

You answer their questions because you want your children to be able to reason through things when they are older.

You answer their questions because you want your children to have a tape of your logic running through their heads when they are faced with a choice between right and wrong.

You answer their questions because you want your children to be critical thinkers and skillful problem solvers.

You answer their questions because you want your children to use sound judgment and to be good decision makers.

Guess what? Having your children be all of those things, starts right here and right now. It starts with your logic, your critical thinking and your sound judgment.  By answering their questions thoroughly, you are giving them the tools they will need when they are older and more independent.

When they ask, “Why can’t we stay up past our bedtime?”

You answer, “You need to get your sleep or you are cranky in the morning?”

When they ask, “Why can’t we have cake for dinner?”

You answer, “Because your body needs good food to grow and be healthy.”

When they ask, “Why do I have to have to brush my teeth?”

You answer, “Because you don’t want your teeth to rot out of your head.”

By answering their questions with reasonable, logical and just plain old good advice, you are laying the groundwork for how they are going to answer these questions for themselves in the future.

Part 2:  Ask them to recite the reason.

When I said you have to answer all of their questions, I did not mean repeatedly – forever.

When they continue to ask the same question over and over (and you know they will), ask them why they think they can’t do it.

“Why do I have to go to bed now,” they ask for the hundredth time.

You respond, “Why do you think?”

They may answer, “Because you make me,” at first.  But, after a few times, they will come up with, “Because I am too tired in the morning,” or “Because I am cranky in the morning.”

You have to stick to it.  If they are really young, you may need to help them come up with your answer at first, but after awhile, even the younger ones know your reason.

In fact, my son and daughter now know the response about bedtime so well, they don’t even ask. In the morning, they sometimes tell me they are so glad they went to bed early, as they feel so much better for it.

No lie. It’s a little astounding.

Part 3: Ask them to come up with their own reason.

When you are feeling daring, you can offer the opportunity for them coming up with their own reasons for things.

So, when they ask, “Why can’t we have cake for dinner?”

You can respond with the raised eyebrow (come on – you know exactly the look I mean).

Not even a second will go by and they’ll mutter, “I know, I know, because I have to grow.”

Then you could ask, “What other reason can you think of for not having cake for dinner?”  Be prepared.  You know you just launched a live grenade into the mix.

They may respond with some silly answers, but a few of them will be worth noting.  My favorite for this one is, “Oh, because I will puke all over the place without anything good in my stomach.” Nice.

I know I have not made your life easier immediately. You did not get speedy relief or a quick fix.

However, you got a LASTING one.  It will not take much as you are answering the questions now anyway.  Going forward, you will just answer their questions with logic and completeness, next you will ask them to give you a reason, and then you will ask them to come up with their own reasons.

So, to recap, the 3 parts:

  1. Answer their questions with logic & completeness
  2. Ask them to recite the reason
  3. Ask them for their own reasons

This really works. You will find success and you may even be surprised at their reasoning.

In the grocery store, my daughter walks right past the candy, soda or sugary aisles saying, “I know I can’t have these now because they are so bad for me, but do you think I could have them when I am older, like maybe when I’m in college?”

Yes, I think, that’s exactly right – college.