Questioning, Conversation Behaviors causing problems

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    • #104768

      My 14-year-old daughter asks a lot of questions – always has. My husband and I used to think it was a part of her intense curiosity, intelligence even. But over the years, we’ve realized that it’s just her ADD, and we’re now trying to teach her how to not ask “dumb” questions. (And if you believe there’s “no such thing as dumb questions – only dumb answers,” try walking a mile in our shoes.) It’s become a real problem. She asks questions with obvious answers – to the point that school peers tease her for being “stupid.” She repeatedly asks the same questions, to the point that her friends and family get exhausted and irritated.

      But to correct her, we’re struggling with the root cause. Does she ask questions because:
      She’s obsessing over an issue, and doesn’t pause to think if she’s already been told the answer?
      She’s subconsciously seeking reassurance that an issue is one way or not?
      Asking questions is just her habitual form of conversation?
      She honestly forgot the answer?
      All of the above?

      We’ve had her IQ tested, and know she’s smart. In fact, she’s just 4 small points away from being labeled “gifted.” But the teasing at school is really wearing down on her self-worth. Depression is already an issue, so we have to watch out for that.

      So, aside from reminding her to “think before you speak,” how can we help her? Looking for some HELP!

    • #104790

      Sorry I haven’t real advice – I just want to say that this is EXACTELY what my son does. He’s a lot younger (now 7) but does this for years now (and he’s also a smart little guy). It got better over the last months (but is still there!). If he’s obsessed over one question I mostly just ask him the same question back with a changed emphasis (for example “Did GRANDMA paint this?!” –> “DID she?” –> “Yes!!!”) so that he can answer it himself – and often he is somehow proud to present the right answer. That makes him stop sometimes. I think for him it is something like a possibility to connect with someone on a safe field with no unwanted surprise or failing. And sometimes it seems just like a tic-like loop he’s in. Feel ya! <3

    • #104795

      Oh man. I thought it was just my son’s curiosity too until I read this, haha. It wears us all down! Sometimes he just doesn’t even care to listen to the answer because he has already moved on to some other question in his mind.

      I have ADD too, so listening to his questions politely is about the hardest thing in the world for me. I think you are right, though. It is important for her to be taught those social cues by you. So sorry she is getting teased. That is always heartbreaking. I wonder if it would be helpful if you discussed the problem and possible solutions with her in a way that helps her come to the conclusion herself that she needs help knowing when to ask and when to stay quiet. That way you can teach her in a way that says, “I am here to help you solve the social problems you are having because I love you and want you to be healthy and happy” instead of “Your questions are stupid” (not that you would have said that).

      Love and Logic has some strategy for this type of problem solving, though I forget the details. I think it looks something like this:

      Kid comes to you with problem (I am being teased for asking obvious questions.)

      Parent empathizes (I am so sorry. That must be really hurtful for you.)

      Parent asks child if she wants help. (Would you like to hear what I have seen other 14 year olds do in this situation? Or would you like to hear what I did when I faced something similar?)

      Child says no.

      Parent offers encouragement (Well, you are a great problem solver. I am sure you will be able to work through this and I am always here to help)

      Child says yes.

      Parent lists possible ideas. Kids usually throw out the first idea, so save your good ideas til the end. Give only a few ideas. (1. Well, you could just ignore the teasing)

      Kid responds.

      (2. You could…)

      Kid responds.

      (3. We could practice identifying important questions versus obvious questions. Would that be helpful?)

      Again, that is just from memory, so I don’t know if it is right on with the Love and Logic model, but you might look it up.

      With my own ADD, I have to say that sometimes my brain goes on “auto-pilot” and doesn’t even really realize what my mouth is saying. Many times my friends have said, “But you just said…” and I am like, “What the heck are you talking about?!” I have even agreed to do things for people on auto-pilot! Not a good habit. Also, my brain knows answers that just aren’t getting accessed quickly enough, even super obvious answers or words that I definitely know but can’t find. Mix that with impulsiveness and you start asking dumb questions out loud and then answering them yourself with a face palm.

      A lot of times the instant I see someone’s puzzled expression right after I ask a question, I realize I should have known the answer and now this person thinks 1. I am stupid 2. I did not care to listen to what she has been saying 3. I am losing it.

      I am 30 years old and had a late diagnosis. Since I didn’t know it was ADD, I developed major social anxiety from this “dumb question” habit.

      Maybe some practice in mindfulness and a good sense of humor. Hope things improve for her! Being a teen is hard enough.

    • #104833
      Penny Williams

      While the first inclination would be impulsivity, it could also be a language processing disorder:

      What Language Processing Disorders Look Like in Children

      ADDconnect Moderator, Author on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #105154

      I have also done the same thing with questions when I was in high school. Even with my ADHD diagnosis I didn’t really understand what I had and I was teased a lot because of my impulsivity. Adult adhd isn’t a walk in the park either unfortunately. But the reason I always asked so many questions, and still do(but I learned how to better control them) is because I seek the reassurance that I am going to do something correctly or that it is definitely the right answer. I would get called on without my hand being raised and couldn’t answer the question which made me feel so stupid. The extra questions I would ask were to prevent me from feeling or sounding stupid. In my head it made more sense to do this although some people still made fun of me for all of my questions. As I have gotten older (I’m 26) I still have social anxiety about sounding stupid and panicking about whether or not I’ll say something stupid because their topic is boring to me and I can’t pay attention. But I have recently started learning how to process things in my head first. This only works for my when I have taken my adderall. Impulsivity is already something that adolescents struggle with, so having add on top of that is challenging. Encourage your daughter to learn more about add herself. Because that has made all the difference for me. Good luck with your daughter! She is amazing!

    • #105160

      Hi there! I am so sorry to hear your daughter been teased at school. My step daughter is 17 years old and it’s currently on the way of being diagnosed, she does the same thing as your daughter, I am pretty sure your daughter truly forgets and also looks for reassurance that what she is doing is the right way. I used to thing that my daughter was doing in purpose but over the years got to know her and I can tell you that when she put the dishes away, the pot that goes in same place for years she will still misplaced it. What I always tell her and encourage her to do is to take notes, amd if she knows she will forget something to write it down. It takes a lot effort and patience, the best of luck! Hang in there <3

    • #105180

      From my own and my family’s experience, it looks to me like your daughter is suffering from anxiety coupled with a tendency to think out loud. Severe anxiety can really make the brain go blank, so yes, she might hear but not be able to use the answer because it doesn’t have the right emotional emphasis to break though her brain freeze. However, if somebody is getting really irritated by repeated or “dumb” questions and this strong emotion seeps into their voice, suddenly the answer get through. You know how you tell an ADHD kid to stop bouncing and they ignore you, and suddenly you lose the temper and yell and then they stop? And they don’t seem to have any awareness you said anything before although if pressed they will admit to hearing you? Basically it’s the same mechanism where the brain is stuck and can’t change the page.

      When a kid asks a “dumb” or repeated question, what works best for me is to help them think it through. So I would ask “Why are you asking?” or “Why is finding out <x> important?”. You might have to go several levels deep until something clicks. This exercise also helps them learn to do some internal processing which is necessary for asking more targeted questions that are likely to give them the answers they seek without needing an emotional charge behind it.

      Here are some resources that might be helpful: the book “Outsmarting Worry” targeted to kids (, and GoZen (, a website with programs for kids’ mental well being and a very interesting blog.

    • #105195

      It is part of that need to see the whole picture before starting a “project”. I have over 30 years in education at all levels and still ask a lot of questions as each project comes up. I still have individuals take it as a lack of not taking them serious and even been admonished on an yearly evaluation for it. It is a positive sign so encourage it. It will be a “tool” for success as they get older. I often build the need for a full picture into students academic success plan.

    • #105202

      I wonder whether she might perhaps be struggling with symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. People with that disorder often do repetitive things (including asking repetitive questions) to try to get a sense of security and alleviate their anxiety. Maybe your daughter could talk to her doctor about her anxiety and how it relates to the questions?

    • #105213

      One of the hallmarks of add is that you get distracted or tune out. She can easily ask a question and then not listen to the answer…which is why she asks again and again. You also can hyper focus when something interests you…which would also cause her to keep asking the same question. I think that a lot of this problem is add related. And, if it is add related, it is going to very hard to change this behavior. Kind of like asking a kid to walk who has a broken leg.

      You also state that depression is an issue. If you have a problem and know about it, but are unable to do much about it….and if you are also getting teased then depression is a consequence. In fact depression and anxiety are very common co-disorders of adhd/add.

      The one thing you did not mention is medication. Because you did not mention it, I assume she is not on medication. Because she is intelligent, I would assume her grades are pretty good. But do you find she is now taking a lot more time on homework? Anyway, It makes a big difference in how you deal with this problem if she is on medication or not. And this is a problem, especially the depression, that might just only get worse. And I can guarantee you that medications for adhd/add are a much better choice then meds for depression.

      So if she is not medicated, this is something that you are going to have to deal with. You might want to read through some of the answers to this link.

      Hope this helps. Best wishes.

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