My son is a talker. We actually refer to him as our "Chatty Cathy" because, when he's the most tired, his conversations verge on mind-bending. Some of the foolproof ways to respond to your toddler's never-ending questions begin with acknowledging whether or not you can handle going as "extreme" as what will undoubtably be necessary. When I say "extreme," I don't mean burning the world down. I'm talking about diversion, confusion, and randomness. Yes, these are highly sophisticated techniques and I swear by every single one of them.
When my oldest was a toddler (she's 10 now), she was a talker, too. Her talkative nature isn't something she's outgrown, either, it has just evolved to include more serious topics like clothes, girls at school, and her obsession with Netflix. My son, on the other hand, came into the world quietly and only recently found his voice. I guess I can't blame him for wanting to use it all times of the day, but it'd be cool if every now and then I could, you know, go to the bathroom without the door busting open to answer whether or not the word "effort" begins with "F" or not (this actually happened today).
I admire my kids' curiosity and encourage their little minds to question everything. However, there are some times when my brain is just too damn tired and it's all just a little too much. With that, here some of my foolproof ways to shut it down. Though, I must warn you: there are no guarantees when it comes to toddlers, you guys.
Pretend You Don't Hear The Questions
A lot of times, when my toddler is full of more questions than I'm able to process, there are times I have to tune him out and pretend I didn't hear him. It sounds awful, right? If the questions didn't go on all day, every day, it'd be easier to digest. However, there are times, like right after I wake up in the morning or right after a long day of work, when I just can't.
The old "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you" after about five solid minutes of random interrogation may not get my toddler to stop asking, but they've given my brain enough rest to get back to him.
Answer A Question With Another Question
My son doesn't usually come at me with typical toddler curiosities (like, "Where do babies come from?") but, instead, ones I didn't see coming and have no clue what he's even talking about. Recently, it's been something along the lines of, "What makes Bruce Banner turn green or red?" Um, let me watch the movies and read the comics and then I'll get back to you? Maybe?
So, instead of making something up or taking a year to respond, I turn it around to in order to make him think. "What do you think makes him turn green or red?" Then, at least for a few minutes, I get a chance to research a better answer. Almost always, he figures it out for himself and the questions cease. Double win.
Change The Conversation
This is a fun game when I'm at my wit's end. Maybe my toddler wants to know why dinosaurs ever existed, which would result in a very long conversation I'm not prepared for. That's when I change the subject with a, "What did you do in school today?" or a "Did you just see what the cat did?"
Of course, I remind him he's been heard, later, when I'm ready to dive into something so detailed and long-winded. However, if I'm busy, this always works because toddlers attentions span are awesomely short.
Do The Research
If you really want to impress your toddler and throw him or her off completely, take their questions seriously enough you sit them down and do some research. My son was enamored with snakes a couple weeks ago but once we made it like a school project of learning and identifying them, his questions stopped. I guess my passion for learning meant making his topic less fun. Oops.
Warning: this can backfire. I've tried this with my daughter before and she'd sit with me for hours doing all the research she could.
Go Into A Deep, Uncomfortable Discussion
The day my daughter questioned how mommy dogs have puppies, I spun out of control and into a diatribe about how human babies are made. That was our sex talk, I guess. A sex talk based solely on dogs. Yes, we were both uncomfortable and, yes, I wish I could do it over. However, it stopped her questions, so there's that.
Tell Your Toddler "Just A Minute"
I don't "ignore" my kids on purpose, mind you. It' just that, well, sometimes I'm really busy. Sometimes, like when my toddler is on a question tirade, I'm cooking dinner or finishing up work and I just can't in that moment. I intend to get back to it so I'll tell him to give me a minute (or five). Usually, he's fine with it, gives me the time, and when I return we continue the conversation. By this point, his enthusiasm has calmed and I may only have to answer a few questions as opposed to 100.
Humor Your Toddler
I get it. All the questions can be annoying sometimes, especially at the end of a stressful day filled with seemingly endless responsibilities. Still, their little toddler brains are learning and processing so much, so it's kind of cool to see the world through their eyes.
So while I know how frustrating it can be when you're tired, I also know that some day my kids will be grown and they'll stop asking so many questions. They''ll feel ready to venture off to find answers on their own. When I think of it that way, I almost always take the time to humor my son while he's still young enough to think I'm the smartest person in the world.