Why aren’t you ready yet? (Because I really don’t want to go anyway so I am dragging my feet to delay the inevitable.)
Why did you hit your sister? (Because I thought she deserved it.)
Why can’t you sit still? (Because you did not bring anything for me to play with and I am bored.)
If kids actually gave these truthful answers, they would be in trouble for mouthing off. Instead they play it safe by ignoring the question or the old standby “I dunno.”
The actual answer to the question “Why do adults ask kids rhetorical questions” is most often because the adults want the last word.
Everyday I hear parents and grandparents ask kids ridiculous questions. My favorite is “Do you want me to (insert punishment)?” When I listen, sometimes I want to put mom in time-out.
If parents stopped asking rhetorical questions the amount of nagging would astronomically decrease. Would it be easy? Of course not! Would it increase compliance? Definitely. I never ask a child to do something more than once or twice. If you haven’t complied, I help you do whatever I asked. For example, if I ask a child to close the door and they continue playing, I help them comply by guiding their hand to the door and pushing it closed. No punishment, just forced compliance with my simple request. It doesn’t take many opportunities before the kids realize that when I tell them to do something, they will do it.