September 26, 2023

Simple Steps on How to Teach your Kids not to Interrupt


It’s typical for children to appear impulsive at their initial stages of growing up. However, to most people, you can improve your child’s level of patience in a short period if you know the right way.

What causes children to interrupt?

Parents, unarguably, have a huge impact on supporting their children learning to avoid interruption. However, before we come to the “how”, we need to understand the “why first”. Three main reasons motivate a child to interrupt his or her parents’ conversation.

Wanting Attention

One of the common reasons for a kid to interrupt during a conversation is that he or she needs attention. 
This might lead to a bigger difficulty if it is not corrected right at the time of execution. Specifically, when a child is not given warnings for their interrupting behaviours at home, he might repeat this negative type of behaviour at school or in a classroom environment. 
He would frequently find his name written on his classroom board and might get in lots of trouble with friends or teachers due to his unwillingness in letting other students have chances to “shine”.

Poor examples from surrounding people

Children copy communication manners and behaviours from their parents regardless of their positive or negative characteristics.
Occasionally parents do not have their senses fully turned up to realize that their kids are interrupting given that this style of communication has already a normal standard in their family daily conversation. However, no family members willingly feel understood, accepted, or fully validated when this negative style of communication in their families are pointed out.

A way to cope with their uncertainty

Sometimes children might feel that they need an opportunity to communicate with their family members which might lead to their interrupting behaviours.
If this kind of situation persists, they would either decide to give their needs up and inwardly retreat their feelings, or they might deliberately interrupt others’ conversation just for the sake of relieving their uneasiness and their needs for affirmation.

When Kids Interrupt: Tips

Before parents dig deeper into specific actions to stop their children’s negative interrupting behaviours, experts suggest that instead of quickly, short-temped reactions, parents might consider brainstorming within their minds of what might happen inside their children’s heads. 

Is there any chance that they might have any pressing needs? If this is a possibility, following up by encouraging to share deeper. If their children hesitate to answer, make sure you comfort him or them by asking whether he or feels uncomfortable during the discussions.

The ensuing list provided you with the most possible reasons for your children should-not-have behaviours. Based on this, you could facilitate the parents-children discussion more efficiently.

Discuss “In-time interruptions”

Children often find it tough to comprehend the concept of the “right moment”. Therefore, you could provide them with examples of these “right-for-interrupting” moments, for example, in the case that someone is in trouble or hurt. Later, you could follow up by requesting your child to brainstorm other similar examples.

Talk about manners and proper ways to interrupt

Guide your kids on how to pause a moment during conversations, notice approval signals, could be a look or nod. Emphasize the moments when it is appropriate for the “Excuse me” words to be uttered out. 

Catch the “right-act” situations

If you catch the opportunities when your child remembers to wait for the approval signals, such as a look, a nod or a pause, immediately offer them positive praise. Approval rarely does not work with children. If you are aware of your children’s good behaviours then say something positive toward them, your child would likely perform it again. This concept is defined as reinforced positivity.

Make them wait

When a child commits interruptions, do not answer immediately unless they are highly urgent. You may request your children’s patience by telling “I am busy right now and will try to talk with you as soon as I could.” After that, find an appropriate moment to get out of your current conversation. At this time, you could turn to him or her and say: “I am listening to you now. What can I help?”

Find mutual signals

Agree with a set of signals which could be used to communicate wordlessly. These signals would help your children to indicate the needs of your presence, politely, when you are stuck in the middle of a conversation with someone else. It could be a nod, a wink, a slight arm squeeze, or a gentle touch on your hand. 
When you notice such a signal, you should repeat it to show your kids you are aware that they need you and you would do your best to be with them as soon as possible. If your conversations persist longer than expected, you could repeat the signal to your kids every once in a while, for a reassurance purpose. This might satisfy the children’s attention needs and control their willingness to interrupt.

Notice your kid in advance 

If you plan to be busy with an important call or a guest visiting, prepare your children’s mindset in advance. You might lead a conversation with them with the likes of the following sample: “Grandma will visit us. We will discuss some adult topics which could take considerable time. Do you think that you could get your toy boxes out to enjoy something interesting while we are discussing?”

Be a Model Good Behaviors

When you are too excited about something, you could, similarly, jump into the negative act of interrupting others. Hence, it would be best to keep that in mind while you share a room with your children. Watching you letting others expressing their ideas and presentation interruption-free might educate your children about the importance of respectful discussion. 
Furthermore, adults should also be fully aware of not interrupting their children in moments that they are talking about. You should perform the same actions you teach your children as the likes of waiting for some pauses and saying, “Excuse me”. Then you could start sharing your planned thoughts.

Children naturally interrupt their parents until they are taught or self-learned not to do such behaviour. Parents need to keep in mind that this is for a child and in their perspectives; interruption is necessary in most cases. Kids, in their early stages, normally find it hard to be patient. Therefore, parents must coordinate with kids to develop a sense of right-time interruption. 

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Adeyinka Meduoye

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