Monday, May 28, 2007

Parenting advice needed: interrupting

Can some of you offer some tips? I have a 4-year-old who regularly interrupts people. My husband and I aren't usually chatterboxes, so it's not like we don't offer ample time for her to speak. We've explained the proper way to enter into a conversation (numerous times), and we've role-played. So far, it's not sticking. I like to find punishments that fit the crime, since I don't think spanking is appropriate for every infraction.

Anyone have any good ideas for incentives and/or consequences for this problem? Maybe it will end up coming down to a spanking issue, but I thought I'd try some other solutions first.


Granny said...

Steph, I think that one of the best teachers is making the child wait even longer for something she wanted. "Emma, since you couldn't wait and had to interrupt Mommy's conversation, you must now go in your room and sit for five minutes and then you may come and tell me what it was you wanted."

A couple of times of this and it will sink in that interrupting is really self-defeating.

Be sure to let her know that it's always okay to interrupt in an emergency--but she should memorize early what YOU consider an emergency to be: someone is being hurt or threatening to hurt someone else, property is being destroyed, someone is throwing up, etc.

Tami said...

Oh, Steph, I hear you on this one. I have no advice to offer, because we are still working on this - with all FIVE of them! Unfortunately, it also seems to be a genetic deficiency my girls have inherited from a long line of interrupters on their father's side. :)

Kim said...

One mom I heard would sit her children in the corner for interrupting a phone conversation. They would have to sit there until the conversation was done, which could be quite a while!

Kelly said...

I may have a tip to help you out. I actually learned of this idea from my pastor’s wife, Jennifer. She and her husband have five children and they are the most respectful, obedient, delightful children I have ever met. I firmly believe the two of them should write a parenting book. Their methods are simply, deliberate, and very effective.

When your child needs to speak to you, but you are in the middle of a conversation, your child should place their hand on your leg. This is the signal that they need your attention (assuming of course there isn’t an emergency situation). Jennifer said when her children were very young she would place her hand on top of their hand, that was on her leg, so that her child would know she would be attending to them soon. Jennifer said that if her children were interrupting she wouldn’t respond to them until they’d given her the signal. Therefore, there’s no pay off for inappropriate behavior. As time goes by, and the children use the signal correctly, eventually they are just able to wait for a chance for a break in conversation to express their need. A physical signal is no longer needed.

Hope this helps you in your situation with Emma.

Barb Clemens said...

Stephanie, all I am reminded of was when Emma's greatgrandfather Todd was her age, grandmother Shirley taught him to whistle when he needed to use the restroom. This worked great instead of him interupting until he was @ a friends house and you guessed it. He whistled himself into an accidnet. The best laid plans of mice and men. Aunt Barb
Wasilla, Alaska

Anonymous said...

You could try telling her that if she interrupts, no matter what she wants, the answer is NO. After being refused simple requests a few times, she will soon get the picture.

Jen said...

I agree with Kelly, who said to have the child place their hand on your leg (we used an arm), but not to wait for a break in the conversation. I think the child should wait until you speak directly to him/her and ask them what they need. If you teach them to wait for a break in the conversation, you are just reinforcing interrupting all over again.

And I would definitely do the opposite of whatever they want if they do interrupt. That works wonders! Goes for whining, complaining, etc. as well.

Stephanie said...

Thanks, everyone, for the advice so far. We've implemented a combination of several of these suggestions, and I've seen lots of progress. It doesn't seem to be happening nearly as often, so we're going to keep working on it.