Sometimes, kids can be frustrating. Every parents knows this deep in their bones. But there’s one particular behavior that can drive even the most patient adult nuts: when their kid won’t stop interrupting. For some reason, “Mommy’s talking right now” never seems to do the trick.
What’s a better way to rid children of this rude and irritating habit? Life coach Kirsten Berger says there’s an easy four-step technique that will teach your children how to be polite when you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone else that includes acknowledging their desire for attention and thanking them when they successfully wait. Watch Berger demonstrate in the video below:
People’s reactions to the method on YouTube were mixed. “Excellent approach!!!! Will do this tomorrow. Thank you. :),” wrote one user.
“Wow, wow, wow. I never looked at it that way,” wrote another. “When my son interrupts me like that and catches an attitude, I look at him sternly and he stops. But your technique is an amazing one that I will be using. Thank you.”
Others felt that while the technique might make kids go about it more politely, they’re still interrupting you. “This didn’t teach more than letting them interrupt you anyway but with a polite response from the mother. Useless,” read another comment.
Kate Baltrotsky gave Berger’s method a try with her 4-year-old daughter, but found it was worth it to put her adult conversation on hold in order to give her daughter her full attention for a minute or two.
“A child lives completely in the present moment until they are about 7 years old,” she wrote in the Huffington Post. “When they have an idea or something to say, they need to say it NOW! They don’t need to say it in 30 seconds from now, or in five minutes from now. Their enthusiasm lives in the present moment and when they need to express that enthusiasm, it needs to happen immediately. There is nothing wrong with that. Sure it’s a little chaotic sometimes, but I’d rather that than to squash their enthusiasm.”
“Kids this age [preschoolers] crave their parents’ attention and they haven’t yet learned that there are times when it’s not appropriate or possible for parents to provide it,” Beverley Cathcart-Ross, parenting expert and Founding Director of Parenting Network, explained to Today’s Parent. “Preschoolers are black-and-white thinkers. Love is either being given, or it’s gone. It makes no logical sense to parents that a child who’s enjoyed your undivided attention all morning becomes intensely demanding the moment you’re on the phone or stop to chat for a minute with a neighbor.”
Cathcart-Ross says it takes time for children to learn that interrupting is inappropriate, but that you can head off an interruption by giving your child information. For example, before making an important phone call, let them know you won’t be available for the next 15 minutes. Cathcart-Ross also recommends showing your kids the same respect you demand of them. For example, don’t interrupt story time to take a phone call.
If all else fails, just remember—they’re kids! Sometimes they’re going to interrupt, but eventually they’ll learn to wait their turn.