“Mom – can we have a slurpee?” It’s 6:01 a.m. and, clearly, it’s going to be a long day.
“Go back to bed. And no slurpee today. We had too much sugar yesterday.” I pull the covers over my head to hide from big dude’s negotiating.
10 minutes later, I’m out of bed, and I’m now listening to both boys as they argue in favour of breakfast slurpees. Wishing that I was a coffee drinker, I fight to hang onto my patience. Taking a very, very deep breath, I remember that there are three words that will end this argument without me yelling.
I crouch down so the dudes and I can talk face-to-face. “Boys, did someone already ask me a question about slurpees this morning?”
“Yes but…” Big dude knows where this is heading.
I keep my voice soft and interrupt his latest argument. “Did I already answer this question?”
Little dude looks down at his feet, defeated. “Yes.”
“So this has been Asked-and-Answered.”
Both boys walk away. When little dude forget and asks me about a slurpee mid-morning, I say sympathetically. “Asked-and-Answered.”
And that’s all I say when the question of the slurpee comes up.
Asked-and-Answered is a tool in my parenting toolbox that, when I remember to use it, is incredibly effective in stopping the constant repetition of requests (before I become frustration). I didn’t invent Asked-and-Answered but I am grateful to the mom who shared it with me. The steps are always the same.
Once a question has been asked and you have answered it, if you are asked again:
Step one: Ask the kids if the question has been asked.
Step two: Ask the kids if the question has been answered.
Step three: Remind them that it’s been asked-and-answered.
Step four: Respond to every subsequent re-ask with the phrase asked-and-answered.
The mom who shared this tool with me, explained that she picked it up at a parenting course as a way to stay calm and to keep the constant asking from turning into a power struggle. Now after two years, big dude knows that once I’ve said ask-and-answered, even if I bring it out late – like on the tenth re-ask – once I’ve said the words there is no point in asking again. Those three words aren’t going to change.
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