In a child’s little world, everything they have to say is super, duper important mum and has to be told right NOW. But learning not to interrupt is a critical skill for young chatterboxes (and much-needed for mum’s sanity).
The reasons little nippers interrupt are usually pretty simple: they’re bored, they’re impulsive and they’re still learning social etiquette. So with all these in mind, there are a few simple ways to teach children how to wait their turn when they want to speak. The key is consistency – choose a method and stick with it. Eventually, your talkative tyke will learn the art of patience.
Here are 7 simple tricks to stop children interrupting.
1. The hand squeeze
By far, one of the simplest (and sweetest) ways to stop a child from interrupting, but still let them tell you they need you, is the hand squeeze. Tell your child if they need to talk to you, but you’re already talking to someone else, to come and squeeze your hand. You squeeze their hand back to acknowledge that you know they want to say something, but they have to wait.
2. The stand still
When excited kids want to tell you something, they usually begin jumping around, trying to get your attention. Instead, tell them that if they need your attention, they should stand completely still. Acknowledge them with a nod, and have them wait quietly until you’re ready to speak to them.
3. The finger
This works well as a progression if your child is still too little to quietly let you know they need you. If they interrupt, simply hold up your finger so they know you’ve heard them, but understand that they need to wait their turn.
4. The egg timer
This tip is perfect for kids that find waiting really hard when you’re on a phone call. Give them an egg timer and tell them they can’t interrupt you until it goes off. Just keep in mind that younger children will probably only be able to wait as long as it takes to soft boil an egg – around three minutes if you’re lucky!
5. The ‘excuse me’ card
Make up a card with the words ‘excuse me’ written on it. Whenever your child needs you while you’re talking to someone else, they can hand you the card and then wait. Make up different coloured cards – if they need you urgently they hand you a red card, or if it’s not too urgent, a green card.
6. The book method
Some children respond beautifully to rules told through stories. The book My Mouth Is A Volcano ($13.70) teaches interrupting children how to manage the words that want to escape their mouths.
7. The hand-on-shoulder
This method is similar to the hand squeeze and just as gentle. Tell your child if they need you, but you’re talking to someone else, to place their hand on your shoulder (or arm if they can’t quite reach). Then place your hand over theirs in acknowledgement, and as a way to reassure them that they’re important.
Keep in mind that whatever tip you use, it’ll take a bit of time for any talkative toddler or chatty child to get the hang of holding their tongue.
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