Teach Your Child not to Interrupt in One Simple Step

How to Stop Children Interrupting in one Simple Step - An Everyday StorySee these two?

How to teach your child not to interrupt - An Everyday StoryBoy do they have a lot going on. Often times they are just BURSTING to tell me something and will come straight up to me and tell me what’s on their mind regardless of whether I am already talking to someone.

Well they used to.

That was before I saw this truly genius little technique from a friend.

I was chatting with her one day when her (then 3-year-old) son wanted to say something. Instead of interrupting though, he simply placed his hand on her wrist and waited. My friend placed her hand over his to acknowledge him and we continued chatting.

After she had finished what she was saying, she turned to him. I was in awe! So simple. So gentle. So respectful of both the child and the adult. Her son only needed to wait a few seconds for my friend to finish her sentence. Then she gave him her complete attention.

My husband and I started implementing this straight away. We explained to Jack and Sarah that if they want to talk and someone is already speaking, they need to place their hand on our wrist and wait. It took some practice and a few light taps on our own wrists as gentle reminders but I am so happy to report that the interrupting has all but stopped!!

No more, ‘wait‘. No more, ‘Please don’t interrupt‘. Just a simple gesture; a little touch of the wrist. That’s all.

Give it a try. It works!


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265 comments on “Teach Your Child not to Interrupt in One Simple Step”

  1. learnwithplayathome Reply

    Thanks for the reminder. This is a great little technique that I must start implementing again with my kids. Pinned 🙂

    • bETTY wILLER Reply

      Consistency, Thou art a jewel. and FAR MORE RARE! Be consistent in your teaching whatever method you use. This sounds very effective.

    • Kim Reply

      This is the sort of thing I’m looking for! Real techniques! Being a new Foster parent to two toddlers ages 2 and 3, I need help. This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Shannon Reply

    One of those great “Growing Kids God’s Way” tricks! We did a class when our older children were small but I had forgotten to teach this w/ our little ones – thank you for the reminder :0) Another good one we need to practice again is “Couch Time”……

      • joysez Reply

        Kate, couch time is when you and hubby sit together at couch and have 10-15mins time together uninterrupted (from kids).

        • Kate Reply

          Oh yes. I like the sounds of that. Just connecting each day and not taking that relationship for granted.

        • theholtgirls Reply

          We have teens now, and use this still. Something else that helps is our “If you interrupt to ask, the answer is automatically No.”

          As for couch time, we just sit down and announce “The kissing shall now commence!” (insert smoochy noises) and the kids run from the room! hee hee

          • Seriously

            Good job teaching your children that parents being affectionate is gross.

          • Zenka

            “Seriously” – why did you feel the need to say something hurtful and small there?

            Most kids go through a phase where they think mushiness of other people – parents or not – is gross.

            Handling it with humor sounds spot on.

            I don’t understand why you felt like sniping at someone over it was going to be helpful.

        • betty Reply

          My husband and I have done this since we were married and all through the child-rearing years. 20 years later and we still do this every morning…drink coffee and talk! It’s our favorite time of the day. Now we’re facing being empty nesters in a couple of months, but our friendship has survived so it’s not so scary (well….a little scary;-)

          • Kristy

            Showing affection in front of children is anything but gross to them. It teaches then that mommy and daddy love each other.

        • theholtgirls Reply

          David, you wrote a perfectly capitalized, spelled and punctuated sentence – I suspect you could come up with a more intelligent approach than hitting.

          Your suggested trick is common in unpleasant places. I challenge you to try for uncommon. 🙂

          • Cloyd Vanderhaag

            that’s the most intelligent non-condescending response i’ve ever heard someone on the internet give someone with an opinion they don’t agree with. While I’m personally not against spanking (this clearly isn’t spanking and i don’t approve of it either) I’m mightily impressed by your response. There has been a slight increase in my faith in humanity.

          • Ohioriverchicks

            My faith in humanity is surging as well! Bravo for kind, thoughtful people!

        • Kate Reply

          Are you suggesting that slapping a child across the face is an appropriate way to help children learn to navigate social situations respectfully?

          I will always choose kindness over fear and violence.

          • Michael

            Violence breeds fear, fear breeds resentment, resentment breeds anger, which breeds rebellion.

        • Abby Kidabby Reply

          I will go against everyone else’s responses and take this to mean “gently place your hand on the back of the child’s hand instead of their wrist”, although I’m certain it’s not what you meant.

    • Colette Reply

      ahhh the interrupt rule, from growing kids Gods way, it does work…most of the time 🙂

  3. expatsincebirth Reply

    Thanks for this post. I am convinced that in many cases this kind of technique is very useful in the communication – not only with children. Especially when listening is involved. When we want our children to listen, instead of telling them from the other room, standing in front of them and maybe touching a shoulder make them focus better. With adults this may seem weird in some cultures, but in others it’s ok to touch one’s hand or shoulder. – I’m still trying to find a solution for when I can’t offer my arm or wrist, like when I’m driving (and already involved in a conversation). Do you have any suggestions?

    • Kate Reply

      Yes. I think you are so right. I’m not sure about in the car. We struggle with that still too. I might ask my friend and see what she does.

      • MamaWolf Reply

        Yeah, I’m also curious about when in the car or otherwise out of reach. I have been trying to get my 5-yo to stop screaming for me from across the house to ask a question… so far, no success.

        • Lu Reply

          Don’t answer them until they address you the proper way. Just ignore them.

          • Kate

            I don’t think you are being respectful or modelling good manners by ignoring the child. I think we want to teach our children (through our actions and our words) how to navigate social situations with dignity and respect. Ignoring a child does neither of these.

          • Rob

            I agree with Kate; instead of ignoring them, answer in a voice of appropriate volume. Then you can honestly tell them that you answered, but you didn’t yell because it’s not appropriate. You can also tell them you’re sad for them that, because they chose to yell, they get a consequence. Then stop; let them figure out what to do with that information. Don’t tell them what they should learn from it, & don’t engage in a debate or succomb to a bunch of “why” questions.

        • Kate @ Teaching What Is Good Reply

          In training our children to not scream from across the house, we had specific Practice Times. We would have the child be in another room from us and tell them, “Now we are going to practice Good Manners in asking me a question.”

          If they screamed, I would say, “No Betty, that is not respectful to scream at me. Please come into the room and speak to me face to face.” And we would have them walk over to me and address me. And we’d all applaud that it was done right! Then we’d practice it again and again until they came to me right away without the screaming.

          Lots of practice, lots of reinforcement. We would do this several times a day and several days in a row until it was becoming the Default on how they spoke to me.

          In the car, we’d have them raise their hands (of course, there were 10 of us so it got pretty loud and busy with so many different conversations) and if they didn’t get noticed right away, we taught them to say, “May I have your attention, Momma?” And I’d either stop and say, “Absolutely” or “One moment please.”

          It CAN be done, it just takes a lot of work on our parts, lots of consistency and making sure we are keyed in to the needs of all our family members. But a joy and blessing in the long run with respectful well-mannered children, confident that they have a voice and will be heard!

          • day

            I don’t think Lu has it entirely wrong, but maybe she didn’t say that before you ignore them, you need to tell them a time or two what is expected. Then once you’re sure they’re clear on what they need to do (ie come to mom instead of yelling) then is the time to ignore when they yell. When you don’t answer, they will come looking. Then when they arrive and speak to you, you praise their good behaviour, “Thank you for coming to talk to me honey, what is it you need?”. Bad behaviour doesn’t always need to be punished, ignoring it sends a powerful message when used in conjunction with good information and positive reinforcement.

          • Desiree

            I agree with day. I have spoken to my son on multiple occasions about the correct way to handle questions from another room. Once in a while he will forget and yell “Mom, can I…” from the other room. After a brief pause you hear him say out loud “oh, yeah.” Then he happily trots to me to ask the question. I answer him without even mentioning that he yelled from the other room, because he already knows what he did wrong and took steps to correct the behavior on his own. Problem solved. 🙂

          • jess

            Training is a term used for dogs. Teaching is for children. You speak as if you train your children like dogs.

          • Kate @ Teaching What Is Good

            To train: “to develop or form the habits, thoughts, or behavior of (a child or other person) by discipline and instruction.”

            I’m sorry if my use of the word train offends you. It IS an appropriate word for use with children, adults, soldiers and people in general.

          • Denny

            (Child places hand on wrist. Adult acknowledges gesture.
            After a pause to complete the adult conversation, we turn to the child.)
            “Okay, what was it you wanted to tell Mommy?”
            “The cat’s on fire.”

        • Jana Reply

          Ugh, I can’t stand that bellowing from another room in the house. After the second “MOM!”, I say “I’m in the _____ room”. That helps them remember to COME to me.

          • MamaWolf

            The worst part is that I have a baby as well now, and he is often napping when she decides to scream for my attention– like at bedtime, when she’s already tucked in and he’s already asleep. DH and I are watching TV, and out of nowhere “MOoooooooOOooM! DaaaaaaAAAdddd!” …At which point I curse under my breath and run through the house at breakneck speed before she calls out again, praying the baby either didn’t hear her or settles right back down. And she *does* yell a second (or even third) time if we don’t yell right back to her that we’re coming. Uugh. No matter how many times we’re all awake and she yells and I tell her she needs to come to where I am to talk to me, she Still. Does. This.

            I swear I think she knows she can manipulate me with noise. Keeping that baby asleep is my top priority. *L*

        • carol Reply

          I’d suggest ignoring him [so he doen’t get mileage out of his unacceptable behavior] until he comes into the room where you are and then asking him to respond in a quite tone. If this doesn’t succeed try a short time out whenever he screams at you and then having him “practice” what he wants to say in an acceptable volume.

        • Sommer Reply

          My kids yell at me from across the house but instead of answering, I just tell them to come here. I won’t yell back an answer but I also don’t want to ignore them. If they need to tell me something they can come to me to say it at an appropriate volume.

        • jenean Reply

          We use This method with my nephew and in the car he asks once and then puts his hand on his head so we remember to address him when we r finished talking. Then at least he feels he is doing something to remind us he is waiting.

        • Nod Smleh Reply

          When my kids would scream across the house at me, I’d scream back, “I’m in the kitchen!” or “I’m in the bedroom!” That’s all I’d respond, and they would figure out that they had to come to my location to carry on a conversation.

        • Sue Reply

          On a different comment, I would like to reply to Mamawolf, 19 July 2014. She tells us the baby is asleep and child number 1 is not asleep yet, but yells out from bed in order to get mom to come. My request is that MamaWolf try to give up her tv time with daddy. Child number one is lonely in her bed. I was that child and could never fall asleep. I needed desperately to be held. One night my father let me fall asleep while I had my arm around his neck. When I awoke in the morning I thought “Oh! My daddy stayed with me!” I thought he was still there but it was my stuffed animal instead. Another insight is that my mother had a baby sister that would asked to be hugged. They would hear her saying “Hugga me! Hugga me!” but would not go to her. She was 3 years old and my mom was 11. I know about her cries for hugs because my grandmother explained to me that was part of the anguish of losing her to a drunk driver. Go to your child and hold her until she falls asleep. She is too little to be sure of herself all alone upstairs. ~mother of ten

      • Kathryn Reply

        I have always used the hand on the shoulder instead of the hand on the wrist. In a car that may make more sense. I do like being able to “reply” silently with your own hand on top of the child’s. Thanks for the tip.

      • joysez Reply

        Kate, if in the car, we practice something called quiet hands and mouth. It takes some practice where we have a few moments of quietness. So no music nothing. .(starting with 5 mins and so on) this happens when it gets really hyper in the car. Then if they have anything emergency I hv my arms to acknowledged then stop the car if possible. My kids know that I will attend to them when I stopp the car.
        Another pointer about the uninterrupted gesture is not to deprived them of situations thats of urgent. I tell my kids that if its an emergency they hold my hands/thighs n whisper to my ears urgent/emergency. Which then I would stop my conversation.

      • Cat Reply

        I believe making a statement of truth is important, yelling in a car or anything that is distracting to the driver is dangerous. Simply pull over the car and not move the car until everyone has settled down giving explanation that it’s dangerous or distracting to the driver who wants to bring everybody safely to the next destination. This usually is only done a couple times and kids realize the importance of safe driving and the car voice.

    • Cami Reply

      Hi. I have a 5 yr old and we use the technique where he says “Excuse me Mum” and then I raise my hand to signal to him that I heard him then finish that part of my conversation then ask how I can help him. I keep my hand raised until I can speak with him so he knows I haven’t forgotten.

      • expatsincebirth Reply

        Yes, Cami, my kids do the same. I can’t always raise my hand and keep it raised until I can speak but eyecontact, if possible (i.e. in the car, while driving, one gaze into the rear mirror has to be enough…), needs to suffice. I think that children need also to learn that there are moments where they just should wait until one is ready. – All kind of signs work beautifully if accompained with a gaze and a smile 😉

        • Kate Reply

          I think that is a nice gentle approach too. I like the hand on the wrist because it seemed subtle. And yes a gaze and a smile is all really that is needed to show the child that they are not being ignored, that what they want to say is important to you and that they will get their turn to talk soon.

    • Mary Ellen Reply

      I have not used this wrist/shoulder trick, but my 3 year old and 8 year olds are pretty good about saying “excuse me, mom” when they want to ask a question while I’m talking to someone else unless, you, know they’re going to die because they’re “starving.” haha

    • Patti Reply

      For situations when you can’t offer an arm or wrist, try simply showing the letter “i” hand formation from sign language…all fingers/thumb down (as in a fist), with only the pinky finger straight up. We tell our daughter the word “interrupt” starts with the letter “i” and when we show this sign, it’s her reminder she’s interrupting and to please wait. We hold it up until we finish our chat, then direct our attention to her while putting our “i” down so she knows it’s her turn.

  4. Anissa Reply

    Such a simple, but fantastic idea – adding this to the parenting ‘back-pack’ – thank you!

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