If you have a child, you have daily interrupting, whether it is while you are on the phone, talking to another adult, writing an email or text, talking to another of your children, or deep in thought. It happens to us all. Here are some tips to stop the interrupting while giving your child your attention, and doing it with one easy rule.
Stop the Interrupting While Giving Your Child Your Attention
Child are full of ideas, and exciting things to say. They aren’t skilled at holding their thoughts for long, and because of this lack of training, they want to tell someone about it the moment it comes to their mind or they may lose the idea all together. This is the reason behind the constant interrupting that happens in a child’s life.
Most of the time, it is the mom that bears the blunt of these interruptions and many times, we as moms, can become unaware of how it can affect the way others feel when you allow these interruptions to be a consistent distraction to a conversation they are trying to have with you.
Many years ago, my husband and I took a parenting class that taught a simple rule that will help children learn how to properly interrupt and in doing so, gets your full attention in a polite way for those you are in a conversation with or giving the opportunity to allow attention to shift to them.
This one simple rule is called ‘the interrupt rule’.
Depending on how consistent you are with implementing the interrupt rule, you can make a world of difference really fast. The thing that I love most about this rule is that it demonstrates how important your child’s ideas and thoughts are you to, while respecting others at the same time.
Here is how the interrupt rule works:
A child is taught to ‘interrupt’ or ‘get your attention’ with their hand, not their mouth.
How this looks is very simple. Your son wants your attention to tell you something that is important to him, but you are listening to a friend talking with you. Your son may not realize he would be interrupting, because you aren’t talking, but by learning to use his hand to get your attention, you will become aware he wants or needs you while still respecting you and those you are talking with.
The parent is taught to ‘confirm their desire’ by placing your hand over theirs, but this doesn’t give them the permission to talk just yet.
If your child has ever repeated “Mom” several times because you didn’t respond to them right away, you can turn this gentle gesture of a hand placed on your arm with a repeated ‘hitting’ to get your attention. Teaching your child from the beginning that you know they want your attention, and you will give them it as soon as you by just placing your hand on theirs, is all the reassurance they need.
Be sure that your child fully understands that your response to his or her hand isn’t the permission to talk, but your assurance to listen in just a moment.
The parent then gives complete attention as quickly as possible by giving eye contact and keep it with their child.
It is so important that you reward your child that has learned to implement the interrupt rule your attention as quickly as you can. The younger they are, their idea or thought is quickly lost, so waiting more than a few seconds can prove too long for them to remember, and will only frustrate them with this method and they will resent using it.
It is really important that use this opportunity to demonstrate how to be polite to others who are speaking, and show them how to use the phrase ‘excuse me’, when interrupting another person that you are in conversation with.
Prior to looking your child in the eyes, say “Excuse me for a minute, my son needs my attention.”
Next, look at your child in their eyes, and that is the only thing they need to know that they not only have the permission to interrupt, but now has your full attention. Keep your eyes on them, as you would the person that was just talking, and when he or she is finished speaking, be sure to praise them for their proper use of the ‘interrupt rule’.
You will need to instilling the interrupt rule when it isn’t done correctly.
Children will need a lot of practice to do this correctly, so be sure to be patient and allow others to know that you are in the training stages and to have patience with you for any extended interruptions while you are working to create character in your child.
When your child doesn’t use the interrupt rule correctly, stop him or her immediately, even though you may be demonstrating an interruption yourself. Then follow through with a need for an apology to the person speaking. “Manual, you interrupted Mrs. Jones. Please apology to her and use your interrupt rule.” At the same time, you will want to take their hand and place it on your arm.
As a courtesy to the other person, allow the child your attention after the apology is done. Prior to giving your attention back to the adult, remind him or her that he needs to use it properly or he will need to practice his self-control for 5 minutes.
Interrupting for an emergency requires one more step.
It didn’t take too long for me to see the need for another step to this interrupt rule that we learned, and that was when my attention was needed due to a hurt child, but I didn’t know it was that important and required my child to wait nearly a minute for the opportunity for my attention. I felt horrible!
That day, we implemented the emergency interrupting rule, that follows the exact same steps but instead of placing the hand on my arm, they place it on my shoulder and will get my attention the moment they do that.
It works AMAZINGLY!
The interrupting rule works for adults as well!
The way of interrupting works so well that I have used it to interrupt my husband or other adults when I need their attention during a conversation. My older children still use it from time to time, as well.
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