While shopping with her son, 3-year-old son Vishnu, Priya met her friend Srimati. No sooner had the two friends entered into a conversation than little Vishnu started pulling his mother saying, “Mamma apple juice, mamma apple juice.” A packet of apple juice in the store had caught Vishnu’s attention, and he wanted it immediately. Vishnu’s impatient and interruptive behaviour left Priya with no option. She took leave of Srimati, promising to call her back later that day.
It is common for children to interrupt their parents or other adults during a conversation. While children may have genuine reasons for causing an interruption, it is not a habit that earns appreciation. Therefore, it is important for parents to teach their child how now to interrupt a conversation or join one. But how would you do it?
Let’s begin by understanding why children interrupt a conversation.
Why children interrupt a conversation:
No matter how much parents teach children not to interrupt, the young ones are impulsive and tend to forget what they have been taught. Most of the time young children tend to interrupt when they want to ask for something, tell us how they are feeling, participate in a conversation, or simply feel bored. Older children often interrupt when they want to present their point of view during a conversation.
What should parents do:
While teaching children, especially young ones, not to interrupt, parents should remember that they won’t learn the lesson in a day or two. It takes time for children to internalise good behaviour and make it a part of their habit. So, be patient, for children will need a little bit of practice. Let’s understand how you can train your child to not interrupt.
1. Model respectful communication: Children usually model their behaviour after their parents. So, model respectful communication skills for your child to learn and follow right from the time they are young. While conversing with your child, listen patiently to what he is saying and speak only when he has finished.
2. Teach respectful communication: Talk to your child about the importance of respectful communication and teach her the rules of the same, like waiting for her turn, saying ‘excuse me or pardon me’ before interrupting and so on. Make your child understand that no one likes being interrupted and that interrupting a conversation is rude behaviour. However, while teaching all these, also tell your child that it is okay to interrupt during an emergency, like if she wants to go to the restroom, or she can smell smoke and so on.
3. Practise taking turns: Engage your child in a conversation to help her learn and practise how to talk only when it is her turn. However, before beginning the training, lay down some ground rules like allowing the other person to finish before talking, not talking for too long and so on.
4. Ignore interruption: If your child has the habit of interrupting a conversation to seek attention, then try to ignore her and carry on with what you are doing. Stopping your conversation to pay attention to her will only reinforce the habit of interrupting and gaining attention. if your child is persistent, tell her that what she is indulging in is rude behaviour and that you will attend to her once you have finished talking.
5. Acknowledge your child: When your child tries to interrupt your conversation, and draw attention to himself using the words ‘excuse me’ or ‘pardon me’ or the signals that you have taught him, attend to him immediately. Also, praise him for remembering the good manners to reinforce the habit.
Not trying to interrupt and knowing how to interrupt a conversation are important life skills that every child should learn. Not only does it help good communication, but also helps an individual maintain a healthy relationship with others around him.
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