Terrific Toddlers: How to Stop Interrupting

Terrific Toddlers: How to Stop Interrupting

It’s been a while since I wrote to you Toddler and Pre-school Parents. Today, let’s talk about interrupting, and how to instill patience. Even adults need to learn how to stop interrupting. It is impolite and disrespectful.

Oh, Those Interruptions!

When you are under six years old, you are, quite naturally, self-centered. You believe that what you have to say is more important than any other conversation or activity going on around you. You are sure that the adults in your life will stop whatever they are doing to listen to what you need to tell them.

When you are the adult, speaking face-to-face with someone or making an important phone call, that little voice interrupting in the background manages to derail your train of thought or conversation. Your child is so excited about something! You have to listen right now! No. No, you don’t.

Patience is a Virtue

Patience can be hard to teach, especially at the end of a long day, but it does need to be taught. Your young child needs to learn, from the beginning, to wait for his turn to speak. If you want to teach your children to be polite and respectful, one of the key elements is to teach them to stop interrupting.

This has been a painful lesson for me because my parents allowed me to interrupt. I still catch myself doing at times. I feel incredibly arrogant when I realize I’ve done it again because it really does show a lack of respect for the other people in the conversation.

One of my grandchildren has recently begun to learn how to stop interrupting. When his mom asked me for advice, I realized that I had overlooked this subject in my blog. I’ll share with you what I shared with her.

The Technique

  • During a “quiet” moment with your child (not when you’ve just been interrupted), tell him about waiting to take his turn to talk. Depending upon his age, you could talk about what interrupting means, and how to stop interrupting. You could possibly play a simple game where you each take turns talking.
  • Set up a conversation with your spouse or another adult when your child is present. If your child starts interrupting, stop the conversation and say to your child, “It’s my (or Daddy’s) turn to talk right now. Please wait until we’re finished. Then you can have your turn.” Turn back to the other adult and continue the conversation, ignoring further attempts to interrupt. When you are finished, thank your child for being patient and give him his turn to talk–uninterrupted.
  • Teach your child to put his hand on your arm or shoulder when he needs your attention. He must silently wait to talk until you turn and give him your attention. This is a good way to stop interruptions when you are on the phone.
  • In school, the polite thing to do is to raise your hand instead of shouting out what you want to say. Try playing school with your child to show him how this works.
  • After you have told your child to wait, don’t make him wait too long. At first, it will be very difficult for him to wait; increase the wait time gradually, but always thank your child for being polite and patient.

The Outcome

These techniques may have to be reinforced and repeated many (many) times. Eventually, they will sink in if you, your spouse, and the other adults in his life are consistent. Be sure to let your child’s teacher know tha you are teaching your child to stop interrupting. Grandparents will be happy to cooperate, too.

Remember, this is teaching your child, not training him. Comment positively about this polite, respectful behavior whenever you see him waiting for his turn.

And Here’s God, Getting in the Last Word

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  -- Ephesians 4:2

Grace is real–

Judy, the Default Mom

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