Interrupting: 6 Ways to Get Your Child to Stop

This morning, as my husband, Henry, was talking on the phone, our youngest child Madison kept interrupting him with urgent questions like, "Daddy, where's the small screwdriver?" "Dad, Daddy—do you have any batteries?" "Dad, Daddy, Daaaddy, why won't my microscope work?" I watched with amazement as Henry tried simultaneously to hush Madison and finish his call.

Kids interrupt for many not so good reasons. A child may interrupt because he likes being the center of attention or because of bad manners or impulsiveness. Youngsters interrupt because they are wired to believe the world centers around them. However, by seven years old, it's reasonable to expect your child to find a polite way to ask for your attention.

Teach Young Children Not to Interrupt

Every mother I know has difficulty talking on the phone without little ones interrupting. You can deal with this situation in several ways:

1. Use a cordless phone. This will enable you to carry on a conversation while keeping track of your kids. In this way you can intervene or alternatively get off the phone before your kids get antsy.

2. Think ahead. Before making a phone call, ask your kids if they would like to sit and read a book or draw a picture. Or, spend some time talking with them. When I get home from work, I typically need to return about 10 phone calls before I can relax. I've learned that the best way to make my calls without interruption is to first give my children my undivided attention. Once my kids begin to wander off to do their own thing, I go make my calls.

3. Keep kids busy. Give a younger child a junk box filled with interesting objects that he's allowed to explore while you're on the phone.

4. Respond to interruptions. If your child interrupts while you're talking, say, "I'll help you, but not until I'm off the phone," or "I want to hear what you have to say, but you'll have to wait until I finish talking."

5. Thank them in advance. Increase the odds that your child will cooperate by showing appreciation in advance. Instead of giving a warning, "Don't pester me while I'm on the phone," say, "Thanks for keeping yourself busy while I chat with Grandma."

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