How to gently stop your young child interrupting your conversation

Sunday, 5 July 2015

You're familiar with the scene, you're talking to your partner or a friend and out of nowhere your child interrupts.  Multiple times.  You try explaining that it's rude or that they need to wait until you've finished talking yet it keeps happening.

The thing is, they're not being rude.  Often they haven't even fully grasped the concept of what rude is in a social setting (other than bad words).  They're not thinking about interrupting you, it's not a premeditated action.  They'll get an idea or thought in their head and they just need to share it, instantly.  They have no idea how long you'll be talking for, when you'll stop or even if you'll stop.  Often they'll mistake a pause for an end and interject.

They're not trying to be rude.  They're excited by the thought that's in their head that they need to verbalise to you.  It may not be important to you, but to them it is important.  Very important!

When we chastise them for interrupting, they often don't translate it as their action being in the wrong.  Instead they often take it to mean what they have to say is invalid.  That you don't want to listen to them.   You both feel put out, yet for different reasons.

They need the acknowledgement that you know they're waiting, that they're not waiting in vain.

The Dude has always been a great one for interrupting.  Constantly.

I read somewhere on Facebook about a gentle technique for them to wordlessly let you know they're waiting for their turn to talk and for you to likewise wordlessly let them know that you're aware they're waiting.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  I must admit my first reaction was mumbo-jumbo claptrap.  Good in theory but couldn't imagine it ever working, at least not with my willful Dude.

Basically, if your child wants to say something to a grownup and the grownup is in conversation with someone else the child gently places their hand around your wrist.  You, in turn, gently clasp their hand/wrist.  It's silent, it's subtle and takes seconds yet in these precious seconds you have acknowledged that your child is waiting.  When you're ready for them to talk you let go.

I had to try it, if only to prove my inner skeptic right that this was indeed utter baloney.

Imagine my surprise when it worked.  Seriously.  I explained it once to him.  He's never forgot.  He didn't question it, he just accepted it.   If anything he's the one that has to remind The Husband and Things One & Two about it when they forget and try and shake his hand off!

He doesn't even seem to mind whether he has to wait one minute or five, because he knows that as long as i'm clutching his wrist back, I know he's waiting.  No butting in, no whining and no frustration.

I just wish i'd known about this simple yet incredibly effective technique sooner, it would have saved so much confrontation and discord.  It's respectful of both the parent who's in conversation and the child who's wanting to speak


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