Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care

When a Child Interrupts

Little children are natural interrupters.  Even polite children interrupt.  They just don’t seem to care–or at least that’s how it can feel when you’re trying to have a conversation with another adult.  So how does a parent help a child learn not to interrupt?

It helps to think about why they do it:

Children interrupt because they aren’t adults yet. They simply can’t hold back the way adults do.  Waiting patiently for a turn to speak takes a tremendous amount of self-control-something that emerges slowly.

Children need to know why. Waiting to speak is based on realizing that other people have a need–and a right–to have their ideas listened to.  Adults understand that.  Children, however,  need an explanation.  Expect to explain more than once.  Children take in concepts a little at a time.

Children sometimes interrupt because they’ve been interrupted. It’s true that children repeat themselves.  It’s true that you often know what they’re going to say before they say it.  It’s true that some days they just jabber endlessly.  To a parent, cutting off a child’s meaningless chatter may not seem like much of an interruption.  But it does to your child.  And it teaches children how to interrupt others.

So remember these basic tips:  As self -control grows, interruptions will diminish.  Time is on your side.  Consider your child’s ability to understand when you set your expectations.  Give your child simple reasons for not interrupting.  Often your best solution is a few minutes of being close.  Offer your lap.  Sit together in a big chair.  Give a hug.  In other words, enjoy some uninterrupted time with your little interrupter.

Posted by karen on Monday, October 19, 2009 12:16 PM

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