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Do your kids interrupt you?

Updated: Dec 23, 2020

If the answer is yes - don't worry, this is common.

However it is advantageous to get on top of this.

Kids are quite spontaneous and in their excitement they just have that need to speak!

For most children, holding back is not something that comes naturally.

It may be very tempting to let them interrupt. They pester you and it makes it hard for you to concentrate on what you are doing or saying. Or you may be on the phone. Plus, for example you may have even tried to get them to wait. How about that time you made them wait and then they have forgotten what it was they wanted to say. This is all common practice.

For young kids, the world is all about them. It is a learning curve to begin to think of others in life.

Short term memory is still short at this young age. This makes it harder for them as they really will forget what they are going to say .

By age 7 you can expect them to have learnt to wait. From age 3-5 it is best to teach them but without expecting them to wait too long.

What makes kids interrupt

They may be bored

They may be anxious or stressed and needing reassurance.

It may be that they haven't learnt to wait. They haven't got the tools. So they don't stop to think.

May be they haven't learn the social norm of waiting and impatience takes over.

Their belief is that what they want to say is important

They feel, or know, they will forget if they don't speak immediately.

What's the advantage of getting on top of this?

Whenever we teach a child something there is a reason.

It's not just for the here and now. It is also with consideration for their future.

Although often we feel it is okay for them to interrupt, there will be times when it isn't okay. Regardless, teaching your child that it isn't right to interrupt is a skill to learn as early as possible. The sooner we teach children a new lesson the sooner they can start to practice it.

Interrupting is considered bad form in society as a whole. Therefore your child will be more polite if they learn to wait . It is also good practice to consider others and to let them have their turn. Turn taking is an important part of conversation.

In this day and age where parents are concerned about high social media usage we may be wise to place extra emphasis on teaching our children good communication skills. Joining a conversation is a skill to learn.

It is also important to give your child the message that they are not the most important person. If you stop talking every time they want to speak then you are giving them two messages

1. that they are more important than you .

2. that what they have to say is more important than what you have to say.

This isn't good for you as the adult either.

Often adults focus on their children and begin to neglect themselves .

How do we teach children not to interrupt.

As mentioned earlier - you may have tried to stop them interrupting. They may have forgotten what they wanted to say. The ensuing frustration may have caused you to abandon that idea.

Here are some tips:

* Preparation and planning is the place to start.

Before you make a call or visit with a friend, or speak to your partner, tell your child that they need to be quiet and not interrupt you. Set them up to 'win' by providing something for them to do. If they try to interrupt while you are talking, politely tell them they must wait. This way they know they won't get what they want when they interrupt you.

* Explain that it's considered rude to interrupt (except for essential reasons - eg safety)

* Have realistic expectations (for your child's age and stage)

* Praise for playing on their own

* Praise for not interrupting

* Don't let interrupting be effective.

* Acknowledge that they wish to speak - a look or hand gesture.

* Model good behaviour yourself. Listen to your child without interrupting.

* Ensure you give them some one on one attention so they don't always have to wait.

* Start small . Practice. Acknowledge. Only keep them waiting a matter of seconds to start with. Then build up to one minute or two minute intervals


Children will attempt to interrupt. This is normal. Part of your role as parent or caregiver is to teach them not to interrupt. Tell them why waiting is good and model the behaviour you want. Take time and patience to teach this to your child. This is for your benefit and theirs.

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