Every kid does it.
It happens while you’re on the phone, or talking to someone at the store, or just having a conversation with your spouse.
In exasperation we usually say something like, “It’s rude to interrupt,” or “Stop interrupting me when I’m talking to someone.”
Are we saying what we really mean though? We don’t necessarily want our kids not to interrupt us, especially if something is very important for us to know. What we want them to do is to be respectful of what we’re doing. So instead of telling them what NOT to do, what if we taught them how to interrupt respectfully?
Here are four steps to teach your kids to interrupt respectfully:
1) Have your child touch your arm, hand, or leg—whatever they can reach.
2) Have them wait until you have a break in the conversation.
3) Reassure them you know they are there by touching their hand.
4) Ask them what they need when you have a break in your conversation.
The best way to teach this is to do some role-playing. When we were teaching it to our kids, we would often use our time together around the dinner table. After dinner, we explained what we wanted them to learn and then we practiced it over and over. We had some fun with the role-playing like I pretended to be having a conversation with one of the kids and daddy had to interrupt me. This modeled for the kids how we wanted them to handle interruptions.
The best part of this is that Mark and I began to use this with each other. If Mark’s standing in the church lobby chatting with people on Sunday morning and I need to get his attention, I’ll walk up and put my hand on his shoulder or touch his arm and wait. When there’s a break in the conversation, he’ll turn and ask me what I need.
It’s a respectful way to interrupt for any age!