It doesn’t matter if I’m on the phone, catching up with my husband when he finishes work or talking to my friends, my 3 and 5 year old seem to always be pulling my clothes begging for my attention and shouting ‘mama….mama….mama…MAMA!!!’. I love it that they have so much to say and want my attention but sometimes I just need to do something else for 5 minutes.
I know they don’t do it to deliberately irritate me but I can’t help but be irritated by it! So I’ve put my teacher cap on and had a think. What would Mrs Pettitt do if this was happening in her classroom? (It’s so much easier to be a teacher than a mother!). The following is what I came up with and have been trialling.
A Simple way to Encourage Children to Stop Interrupting
- Model the desired behaviour;
- Give them a simple signal they can use to let us know they want to participate/attention.
So, we have been putting this into practice in a very simple way. Every time one of my kids interrupts, I ask them ‘is it your turn yet?’ to which they either reply ‘NO’ or ‘I don’t know’. Then I explain that it isn’t because I was already talking or doing something and tell them that when I finish what I was saying/doing then it will be their turn.
Now, sometimes this works just fine but others all hell breaks loose because they just cannot understand why they have to be the ones waiting for a turn!
The signal we have been using is either a squeeze on my leg or arm. I then need to acknowledge this by holding their hand and look at them.
This seems to be working ok so far and I think that they enjoy having some control over the situation. Sometimes though, they still have a huge melt down because they just cannot wait a second longer for mama’s attention. I suppose that’s ok since they is still young and learning that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their needs all the time. This is however something they need to learn and will ease their future social interactions.
I should add here that sometimes children just need to tell us something there and then and are not able to wait because it really is urgent e.g when they need the toilet, they are hurt, they did something that requires your immediate attention. At the end of the day you are their parent and you know your own child. You should be able to tell when this is the case.
Give it a try and let me know if it worked for you. Do you have other strategies you use to encourage your little ones to stop interrupting and wait their turn?