Doing Life Together

child-1629537_1920Reader Question: My eight–year-old daughter constantly interrupts when I am talking with another adult. I have told her to stop a thousand times and she continues. What can I do to stop this? I feel it is rude to interrupt adults.

I agree. It is rude and your daughter needs to learn to wait for her turn. Part of the problem is that you keep telling her and she continues to get your attention. It is your attention that keeps her doing more of the same. Your words do not mean much.

So, here is what I suggest. First, let her know that interruptions are only OK if there is an emergency. Review what might be considered an emergency so she is clear on what constitutes an emergency.

Other times, her interruptions will be ignored and she will need to practice waiting until mom calls on her. Then, tell her that when she tries to interrupt you when talking to another adult, you will ignore her by not looking at her or answering her. Create a hand signal between the two of you to use as a reminder. This can be a raised finger or hand, but don’t give her eye contact. Show her the hand signal and practice. Do a role-play and ask her to interrupt like she usually does. Show her what will happen now.

When using ignoring, you cannot attend to her at all. This means do not talk to her, look at her or ask her to wait. Completely ignore and use the agreed upon signal. After a few times of you sticking to your guns and not attending to the interruption (you can tell the adult you are talking to what you are doing if feel this is necessary), she will eventually give up and stop interrupting. The reason this strategy doesn’t “work” is because parents attend to the child in some small way rather than completely ignoring. It only takes a look or a word to give attention and reinforce interrupting. Therefore, you have to be committed to the ignoring strategy and not give in to her persistance.


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